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Blood phobia Why can some people not see blood?

A small drop of blood can be enough to make women and men faint. This pathological fear is called "blood phobia". It is often associated with a fear of syringes, needles and surgical instruments of all kinds. An estimated three to four percent of the population suffer from a blood phobia. You are not only disgusted with blood or feel a slight discomfort. Their fear goes so far that they avoid going to the doctor - and thus avoiding blood draws, vaccinations and even urgently needed treatments.

This is how a blackout occurs

When they see blood, those affected struggle with violent physical reactions: The pulse and blood pressure rise only briefly - and then suddenly drop. The brain is no longer adequately supplied with oxygen. This leads to nausea, dizziness and, in extreme cases, fainting. "The special thing about the blood phobia is that the circulation slows down," says Dr. Matthias Vogel, specialist in psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy at the University Hospital Magdeburg. This distinguishes blood phobia from other "specific phobias". These are fears that relate to specific objects or situations. The spider phobia, fear of flying and heights are also included. With these phobias, however, the body reacts with a permanently high cycle.

Multiple causes

The reaction pattern typical of a blood phobia could be a holdover from the distant past. If our ancestors were wounded, a faint might save their lives. Because so the pursuers lost interest and the faster blood clotting decreased the risk of bleeding to death. However, this theory cannot be proven. There are a wide variety of attempts at explanation among doctors and scientists.

The causes of a blood phobia can be very diverse. Apart from genetic causes, learning processes are considered important. This means that you can copy fears in your environment or learn from others, for example from your parents, on the model. Likewise, blood phobia can be trauma based - think of illnesses one goes through.

Dr. Matthias Vogel

The increased fear of blood can only occur at an advanced age. Studies, Vogel said, had shown that people who were recently separated or divorced were more likely to develop a blood phobia. "Apparently, a phobia like this also shows a feeling of loneliness," suspects the doctor.

But what about menstruation? How badly does menstruation bother women? Can it even be the trigger for a blood phobia? "Surprisingly, there is hardly any literature on this. On the other hand, it is actually obvious - especially when you consider that women are more often affected by blood phobia than men. One can assume that it could also have something to do with the more frequent sight of blood . "

By the way: It doesn't take real blood to throw people completely off track. Fake blood can cause similar unpleasant effects. Just like an overly vivid description of a bloody accident. The good news: a blood phobia can be treated.

Often three to four sessions are enough. On the one hand, those affected learn to recognize the signs of an attack and, on the other hand, to better control their blood pressure - through the active use of their muscles in the arms and legs in order to maintain the blood flow and prevent the pressure drop.

Dr. Matthias Vogel

It is important that those affected face their fear, for example by looking at pictures of bloody injuries or, in a further step, visiting a blood bank.