Local advice for those with a fear of needles

A general fear of needles affects 20 percent of the population and around 10 per cent have a phobia, says Michelle Wakerell

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A local hypnotherapy expert has shared advice for those worried about needles who might be dreading the coronavirus vaccine.

Michelle Wakerell is a qualified, registered and accredited counsellor, psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, who runs a business called Hypnotherapy for Change, based in Dalmally.

She said several people had been in touch with needle phobia – trypanophobia – which can affect up to 10 per cent of the population.

Around 20 per cent also have a general fear or dislike of needles – which raises issues about people avoiding the coronavirus vaccine, she said.

Their concern often stems from blood tests or medical procedures when they were young or is behaviour ‘learned’ from their parents, said Michelle.

People can suffer physical symptoms and avoid visiting their doctor or dentist.

She has produced some steps they can take in preparation for the vaccine and advises people to see a professional if they want to overcome a serious phobic condition.

BREATHING TECHNIQUE 

If you feel yourself getting anxious, practice a calming breathing technique. Do this three to four times a day for a week before your appointment.

APPLIED TENSION 

People worried about fainting can try an ‘applied tension’ technique to bring their blood pressure back to normal. Michelle suggests doing it three to four times a day for a week before your appointment. It involves choosing somewhere safe and comfortable to sit.

Tensing the muscles in the arms, upper body and legs and holding for 10-15 seconds.
Release the tension and just sit comfortably again. After 30 seconds repeat by tensing your muscles, holding and releasing again.  Repeat this 10-12 times

POSITIVE STATEMENTS 

Michelle said when we are feeling anxious, it can be really helpful to repeat positive statements and write them down and read them regularly and repeat them whenever you need some reassurance.

I can cope with this
It will only take a few moments
It will be over before I know it
I’ve got this
I can handle this
It takes longer to boil a kettle

THE APPOINTMENT 

Let the receptionist or the person making your appointment know about your fear of needles, it may even be possible to allow you extra time for the appointment.

Chat – Let the person who is giving you the injection know if you are worried as there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. They can help you to relax and distract you.

Count – Try counting slowly backwards from 100.

Relax – This will release tension in your muscles. Tense muscles may make injections feel more painful.

Breathe – Focus on your breathing, deep, steady breathing will help you relax.

Distract yourself – Don’t look at the needle. Think of your most relaxing place and see all the detail in your mind’s eye. Take a book or magazine. Listen to favourite music on headphones on your phone.

After the appointment give yourself a great treat because you deserve it!

PHOTO: NO_B51vaccine01