Before the COVID Blows: Can Hypnosis Help Children Overcome Fear of Needles?

As Israel prepares to approve coronavirus vaccination for the 5-11 age group, the underlying questions remain whether, once vaccines are available, parents will take their children to vaccinate.

While vaccinations may be associated with many reasons, they may not have been sufficiently taken into account: trypanophobia – fear of needles.

According to a survey of some 15,000 adults in the UK by the University of Oxford, trypanophobia accounted for around 10% of vaccine hesitancy and offering treatment for the problem could give a major boost to the inoculation campaign in the country.

Different studies suggest that around 20% of the adult population suffers from the disease, and up to 50% of children and adolescents, as said the psychiatrist Dr. Alex Aviv.

Aviv, a professor at Tel Aviv University, is the Director of the Health Minister’s Advisory Committee on Hypnosis. Hypnosis offers an important opportunity to treat trypanophobia, as well as other anxiety disorders, including those caused by the pandemic itself.

“Hypnosis can be described as an altered state of consciousness or consciousness during which people are more open to receiving suggestions and therefore more open to listening to the advice of their doctor or therapist,” he said.

Medical staff receive their third COVID-19 vaccination at the Meir Medical Center in Kefar Sava, on August 13, 2021 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI / FLASH90).

Israel has one of the most comprehensive laws on the subject in the world, allowing the technique to be used only for medical purposes by qualified professionals, and never as a form of entertainment.

“The only reason to use hypnosis is for the good of people’s health, to help reduce pain, to heal a physical or mental problem,” Aviv said. “It should never be used or abused for a performance in front of a crowd.”

Furthermore, the law prohibits anyone who does not possess a valid hypnotizing license to perform the practice. Only doctors, psychologists and dentists can get one and only after undergoing special training and passing an exam.

“Usually we don’t address trypanophobia, because we take it for granted that children are afraid of needles,” Aviv said. “However, as we prepare to vaccinate them against COVID, we must be aware of the problem.”

Israel hopes to approve COVID inoculation for cohort 5-11 on Wednesday.

“The reason the fear of needles is so common is related to evolution,” said Aviv. “From early childhood, like all primates or other mammals, a child learns that pain is synonymous with danger. The puncture is very common among all mammals and they try to avoid it because it can cause very serious injuries and even death ”.

The expert pointed out that trypanophobia is not just a minor fear or preference, but rather a total anxiety problem.

“The fear of needles can lead to total anxiety attacks when someone is vaccinated, causing the heartbeat to race, high blood pressure, feeling dizzy or nauseous, fainting, sweating, tremors, shortness of breath, and insomnia.” , said.

“For this reason, children may really want to avoid vaccination and parents may allow it, either because they empathize with them or because they suffer from trypanophobia themselves,” he added. “Research has shown that someone can experience the phenomenon even when holding a child who is receiving an injection.”

However, hypnosis can help you overcome the condition.

“We first explore where the fear comes from, and especially if the child is not that young, we can explain the evolutionary reason behind it, adding that they now have the mental capacity to understand that vaccines are good,” Aviv said.

“Also, our most effective tool is what we call exposure therapy,” he added. “We show the child some syringes without needles, we give the child the syringe to hold them and through hypnosis, we work to reduce the symptoms of trypanophobia that they begin to experience, eventually the child can hold the syringe with the needle and play with it. the needle “.

Through this treatment, patients gradually lose their fear and stop experiencing anxiety symptoms.

“The problem can be overcome in very few sessions, between three and six,” Aviv said.

Trypanophobia isn’t the only COVID-related challenge that hypnosis can help with.

“COVID-19 has caused a dramatic change in the quality of life of people and especially of children and adolescents,” said Aviv. “Sometimes we forget that for them being with their peer group is really important for their emotional, psychological, physical and physiological growth. Disconnecting them from their environment can cause many problems, such as anxiety, depression, concentration problems, enuresis and insomnia. “

“In the last two years, I have also treated many children with viral warts on their hands or scurvy on their legs,” said Aviv. “While these problems are viral, stress can increase them and cause them to spread. Hypnosis can be a very good way to treat these problems. “

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