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Friday, March 06, 2009

Fear : An anxious feeling

Many a time you fear something intensely without reason. You get nervous facing it, although it is hardly a potent danger. Besides affecting your health, your irrational behaviour may even put you in an embarrassing position.

This is what happened with my friend - a freelance writer. Once my friend met with an accident and was hospitalized and he went to see her. The wound on her cheek was deep and bloody. My friend felt giddy and tried to control himself. But just as the doctor pressed it while examining, blood started oozing out. Before the nurse could wipe off the blood, my friend fainted. In his words, “That was the most embarrassing moment when the doctor started looking after me, instead of my friend.” Harsh is haemophobic – suffering from haemophobia, fear of blood.

Haemophobia is an extreme and irrational fear of blood. It is generally when you see your own blood. But at times you may even feel horrified seeing someone else’s blood – may be a man or an animal. Many backs start curling up and hearts starts racing just by watching blood and gore on television or in a movie.

A haemophobic usually thinks of injury or of death while looking at blood. There can be various reasons to it. It could be some even linking to blood; an emotional trauma experienced in childhood or adolescence. It can also be triggered by movies, TV, or perhaps seeing someone else experience trauma. Experts say, there is also a genetic component to blood phobia.

Yeah! I come to conclusion that, it happens due to a chemical change in the body. Changes in the serotonin levels in the brain trigger the fear.

Just as the genesis of the phobia differs, so does the way it reacts on an individual. People face either low blood pressure, or high blood pressure and variation in heart rate. They go weak in the knees; turn pale, and finally faint.

A study says fainting is the most commonly observed symptom. Many even start experiencing fear of fainting subsequently. Seventy per cent, or more, of the sufferers report fainting – not just once, but several times. In medical terms, this type of response is known as vasovagal syncope or ‘emotional fainting’ and it occurs as a result of reflex-like activity in the parasympathetic nervous system.

Why does it happen? The fear has a reversal effect on the body. The blood supply to the brain lessens and there is a lack of oxygen for a moment. This results in brief loss of consciousness. A study says, in a small number of people, periods of cardiac asystole (no electrical output from the heart recorded on an ECG) lasting several seconds have been reported during the faint.

The other symptoms include breathlessness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick and giddy, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full blown anxiety attack.

Certainly, the social and professional life of the person can get affected. It doesn’t really hamper one’s day-today life. But it may cause embarrassment if it triggers in front of others.

One of my friend - Sneha, a bank officer, shares her experience. “Once I got a cut while closing the wardrobe door. I was normal with it, till the time I saw that my finger was bleeding. And then I started shaking and crying and wouldn’t stop. I fainted and had to be hospitalized.”

Sometimes haemophobic are afraid to go out alone. It is not very common among haemophobic. It usually happens if the person had seen an accident in front of his eyes.

Many of us, said, "We had joined with the crowd to see what happened. Within few seconds, we started sweating and just passed out. We found myself on the hospital bed when we regained consciousness. We fear going out alone in case that incident comes to our mind.”

On the positive side, the fear of blood can be controlled. Physiotherapy can really help to get rid of it.

Since it causes fluctuation in blood pressure and heart rate, exercise Is best to ease strained muscles.

And finally, I must say that, “It is better to consult a psychiatrist for a detailed assessment and proper treatment. It is important to know one’s nature, the kind of life one leads, whether there is any stress factor, one’s past including details of childhood to treat a patient."

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