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Overcoming a phobia of needles

Posted at 4:10 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 13:12:26-05

While you probably don't describe getting a shot as fun, some find that needle downright frightening.

"It's an instant panic. I get clammy, queasy, nauseous, shaky, sweaty," said Alyssa Moody. "Everything you'd get in a really stressful situation."

Moody says when she was younger, she would even faint from her fear of needles. About a quarter of American adults share that fear and an estimated seven percent avoid immunizations because of it, according to the CDC.

Cheryl Carmin, a psychologist at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, suggests overcoming a needle phobia with exposure. Placing yourself increasingly and repeatedly closer to what you fear.

For example, you can begin by looking at drawings of needles, then photos. Then, try watching videos of immunizations until you can finally work your way up to get an actual shot.

Another psychologist suggests reducing anxiety by relaxation techniques like mediation. Distracting yourself during a shot can help too. Moody says that is one thing she now does.

"Keep my eyes focused on something other than what's happening on my arm or wherever else I'm getting the shot, and that makes it tolerable."

If you have a severe fear or phobia, it might be time to seek medical help. But it is a good idea to do that soon, it may take a while to work through your fear and more COVID-19 vaccines will become available in the coming months.