Simply explained, Hemophobia or the extreme fear of blood, elicits a phobic reaction from the suffering individual at the sight of blood, which may or may not be his own.
Often, there is confusion between Hemophobia and the fear of needles. A person may be afraid of having his blood drawn which can be mistaken for Trypanophobia (or the extreme fear of needles). In fact; this common specific phobia is actually categorized broadly as blood-injection-injury phobia.
Unlike other specific phobias, the fear of blood phobia leads to some rather different symptoms which shall be covered later in this article. First, let us study the causes of Hemophobia.
Causes of fear of blood phobia
As stated above, there is a link between other phobias and the fear of blood phobia. The fear of needles phobia and hemophobia is one combination often seen in individuals. Some patients are known to display a phobia of dentists and doctors along with Hemophobia.
- In general, the fear of blood phobia is triggered by a fear of the field of medicine as it is often related to blood, injections, injury, pain and death.
- TV and movie images can also contribute to this fear. Halloween culture, gory bloody movies, serial killer murder stories etc have also been known to cause this phobia.
- Bleeding is often a sign or indication that there is something wrong with the body. Hence, hypochondriasis or nosophobias are also linked to Hemophobia. Hypochondriasis and Nosophobia are both characterized by a fear of falling sick or developing specific diseases like cancer, diabetes etc.
- The fear of germs or Mysophobia can also trigger Hemophobia since the individual is afraid of ‘catching germs’ from someone else’s blood.
- Fear of blood is also linked to the fear of death or Thanatophobia.
- The sight of blood often causes the individual to faint; s/he may fear embarrassing oneself by fainting, which is actually the body’s defense response to protect itself from further stress.
- As with other extreme phobias, the fear of blood can be brought on by a prior negative or traumatic childhood experience with blood.
Symptoms of Hemophobia
As stated above, Hemophobia brings on some rather different symptoms than those brought on by specific phobias.
The similarities with other phobia symptoms are: anxiety, nausea, increased heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking at the sight of blood. This is followed by a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate that leads the individual to faint, become pale or weak, which are not seen in other phobia reactions.
Fainting occurs because the brain does not receive adequate blood supply. Fainting or having a panic attack can be an ‘embarrassment’ to the individual who then tries to avoid seeing blood at all costs.
Hemophobics not only fear seeing their own blood or that of others, in some cases, they may even have an anxiety attack upon seeing blood of animals.
The phobia can sometimes consume one to the degree that it interferes with his/her daily life. The sufferer might refuse to visit a doctor or dentist or even see printed pictures of movies involving blood. S/he may lead a sedentary lifestyle in order to avoid sports related injuries.
Treatment for overcoming fear of blood phobia
Experts recommend the opposite of relaxation techniques which are usually suggested for overcoming other common specific phobias. In this method, rather than relaxing, the individual is asked to ‘squeeze his large muscle groups into tense knots’ in order to prevent himself from fainting. This technique is especially helpful for patients who faint at the time of getting an injection.
One of the major side effects of Hemophobia is depression or anxiety. A mental health professional can help provide a solution to overcome these conditions.
Hemophobics are also encouraged to gradually expose themselves to certain events or sports which are potential areas where blood may be present. This can help one slowly get comfortable with their fear. Behavior and cognitive behavior therapies as well as hypnosis and talk therapies can help hemophobics lead a normal life.
Jessie Bear says
I’m severely scared of blood but only in either the medical/biological sense, or pinpricks. Trigger warning for severe hemophobes and for self harm!
So basically I’m fine watching gory movies or grazing my knee, but that description image, which appears to be a pinprick, makes me nauseated just thinking about it. I’m fine with cutting, and even did cut myself when I was depressed as a teenager, but when I think of injections or blood pumping or anything about circulation, my wrists and the inside of my elbows feel weak and I get light headed.
If anyone mentions cutting circulation when there’s a hair tie on my wrist, or when people mention veins, cutting veins, blood donations, blood cells, blood clots, blood pumping in the heart or injections, I feel like I’m going to pass out. I never have though. I just sometimes need to leave the situation to breathe. I used to be afraid of the word itself, but now I only get scared by sentences like “the blood is pumped from the heart into the arteries to go to the organs”. Once in primary school, people found out and would tease me by saying the word blood or saying (huge trigger warning for hemophones) “what would happen if I pierced my veins? Would blood just come squirting out?” and I would scream and cry and collapse. Does anyone else experience this fear like this?
YES! I know this discussion is a while back, and you may not see this, but you just described me perfectly. I don’t mind playing video games with gore or seeing scenes from movies like that. But anytime something with veins or blood being pumped comes up, I feel like the insides of my elbows and wrists get weak in places where many visible veins are. I got loss in blood pressure and almost fainted a few times while being light-headed in school, specifically in anatomy and health classes. My wrists and elbows seem to be my most sensitive parts.
Mohammed Rizwan says
I got this phobia when i was in 8th standard and till now i have this phobia. My age is now 25.
I have seen many incidents when i was kid but i was normal at that time.
Now sometimes i faint or control myself.
Tv shows and other peoples blood is ok but looking at my own blood and my relations blood can cause me fainting.
I used to have this phobia when I was younger, like 11 years old, but I had never actually noticed it. Whenever someone brought up blood, I would feel dizzy. Particularly, one time, a kid in my class was talking about a comedian that made a joke about blood…. and as he kept describing that joke I felt dizzier and dizzier. Until I fainted, right out of the principal’s office. Also, I remember that when I was even younger (6 years old) and started losing teeth, it was much harder. One time I fainted right after I took a tooth out. It was crazy. Every time I lost a tooth, that would happen. Glad I don’t have this phobia anymore (even though I still have a lot right now).
I have this, nosebleeds are commonplace to me, and thats the only type of blood i won’t faint with.
I think i got it but cant explain why, only when i got wounded and see my own blood. But if its others blood it seems ok to me. Watching bloody videos and see others get wounded in front of me seems ok. Maybe mine is just a trauma.
I found out I had this fear when i cut my finger and fainted three times in a row. I still have this fear but it doesn’t only occur when seeing it. I can’t listen to a conversation where someone brings up blood too many times, it is also difficult to read the word itself as well as type/write it. It is hard to read an article such as this one, I have made my own technic that helps me. I will read as far as I can and if I start feeling nausea I pause close my eyes and list with things and picture them while focusing on my breathing. If it gets really overpowering and feel like I’m going to faint I will go to a different room squat and put my head in between my legs while going on my phone or reading to distract my mind. As silly as it may seem it was an accomplishment that I didn’t need to pause while reading this article or while I was typing this comment.
jemma aleton says
Proud of you for reading through this! I personally disassociate the word from the meaning when I have to read or write it and read it in my head as blue-d :)
I dont know why but i got into a wreck and i have no problem dealing with blood and i had a scratch on my arm and when i seen it i just passed out im still not sure if it was the wreck or the blood
Jannah Vincent Loves Pandas says
fear of blood TERRIFIES me…. i don’t remember HOW i got it, it makes me feel nauseated… once, me and my friend were hangin’ out, and she got a nose bleed. Instead of helping, I ran off… i didn’t ditch her on purpose i just felt… terrified of seein’ it…
I’m not really afraid of my own blood but when I see someone is bleeding I just run away ! Shut myself in a quite place ! My hands are really weak, I can’t even walk. I would cry as well ! All I can say to the blood is: Don’t come to me or leave me alone.
Jannah Vincent Loves Pandas says
same! I ditched my friend cause she had a nosebleed, i just quickly ran! Whenever I actually SEE it, i look away as quick as possible! If I am the one who bleeded, i look away or cover up ma sleeve or wherever i was bleeding! If someone else was… well, i would either; ditch ’em or look away quick
I was wondering if it makes anyone feel nauseated when you see too much blood? I have been a hemophobic since i was young but it seems to be getting worse. My husband was watching a game on youtube and it had a lot of blood and it started to really make me sick. Then i got sick. He said it was b\c it is based off of real gore, i just wish it would get better and go away.
I usually would get quite nauseated at the sight of blood. Recently, I fell and scraped up my leg, and the bleeding caused me to actually throw up. That was the first time I had had that kind of reaction. I’ve read elsewhere that the nausea comes from the drop in blood pressure, which is the body’s response to seeing blood in order to lessen potential blood loss.
Since that point though I’ve become hyper-aware of anything blood-related, because I’m afraid of having that kind of reaction again, especially in public. And that just contributes to the fear :/
corey castaneda says
I really understand, my cousin has it too. A great way for some is to try to slowly lead yourself to these videos or events, where blood might occur. By slowly getting used to the possibility of seeing it at any time, you might begin to feel little by little more comfortable. My cousin tried this and it really helped. Hope i helped.
I am a nurse?
I always feel dizzy when I see more blood even when assisting patients or when in Theatre during operation.
What can I do to overcome this problem because it’s growing up than before.
Aia Maree says
Thank you for the useful information. God bless.
help needed says
What was the first recorded case