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An Overview of Hemophobia: Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Treatment

Hemophobia symptoms and treatment
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.Read more

Phobia is a disorder characterized by an extreme, persistent, and irrational fear of specific objects or situations. Generally, hemophobia is the fear of blood. However, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) categorizes it as blood-injection-injury (BBI) phobia [1*] .

According to the National Institute of Health [2*] , the disorder is prevalent since it affects about 3% to 4% of the general population. Read on to learn more about its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Fear of blood can be managed. Book an appointment with a healthcare expert to receive personalized recommendations.

Symptoms of Hemophobia

In people afraid of blood the sight or thoughts of blood cause distress or anxiety. Moreover, the condition can interfere with a patient’s life. For instance, one may skip a doctor’s appointment to avoid taking a blood test. Symptoms of hemophobia are evident if the affected individual sees blood, and these reactions can be emotional or physical.

Emotional Symptoms

  • Feeling unreal and detached from self.
  • Extreme anxiety.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Feeling as if one could die or pass out.
  • A powerless and helpless feeling.
  • An unsettling feeling in the stomach.
  • Desire to escape or disappear from a scene that has blood.

Physical Signs

Although the symptoms of blood phobia may be obvious, only a healthcare provider can make a diagnosis and choose the right treatment.

Diagnosis of Hemophobia

The phobia of seeing blood is a mental health disorder, and its diagnosis involves a psychological evaluation by a mental health practitioner. To make a formal diagnosis, the doctor uses the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:

  1. An excessive, persistent, irrational fear of seeing blood.
  2. The fear of blood persists for at least six months from the first experience.
  3. Anxiety or panic attacks as a response to the sight of blood.
  4. The extreme fear of blood is disproportionate to the actual danger it poses.
  5. Someone actively tries to avoid the sight of blood and has intense distress or anxiety when seeing it.
  6. The fear of blood interferes with a person’s daily routines.
  7. The patient’s irrational reactions to blood differ from the symptoms of other disorders, such as panic disorder, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Main Causes and Risk Factors for Blood Phobia

The exact cause of hemophobia is not clear. However, it has been established that anxiety disorders such as hemophobia can be hereditary [3*] . In some cases, the disorder is a result of direct traumatic experiences or hearing a narration of a frightening event. It is also possible to acquire the condition by witnessing a blood-associated event.

Aside from genetics and traumatic experiences, a few more factors may be an underlying cause of hemophobia. These factors include:

  • Caregiver’s Anxiety. If a caregiver usually gets anxious at the sight of blood, the minor in his/her care may develop similar fears. Eventually, the fear may evolve into a phobia.
  • Learned Behavior: Hemophobia can develop after witnessing others’ fear or discomfort around blood, particularly in early years.
  • Cultural Factors: Hemophobia can also arise due to cultural beliefs and societal conventions surrounding blood and disease.
A healthcare professional can help you identify the root cause of your anxiety and help manage it.

Risk Factors

  • Age: Although it may appear at any age, hemophobia typically starts in childhood or adolescence and can persist into adulthood.
  • Gender. Research [4*] indicates that women are more likely to have specific phobias than men. For instance, statistics show that the occurrence of blood-injury [5*] phobia is approximately 2.2% among males and 3.9% among females.
  • Personality Traits: Hemophobia may be more likely to develop in people who are more sensitive, nervous, or prone to anxiety disorders.
  • Other Phobias or Anxiety Disorders: Individuals who have other phobias or anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder or particular phobia, may be at a higher risk of acquiring hemophobia.
  • Medical Problems: Fear of blood can be made worse by some medical issues, such as anemia or low blood pressure, which can result in fainting or dizziness.

Types of Hemophobia

Hemophobia symptoms can manifest in many different ways; only seeing blood is not a single and absolute cause for experiencing anxiety and fear. Phobias can start as a fear of a particular stimulus but can become generalized with time.

Such stimuli can include:

  • Visual Triggers: Seeing blood, whether on film, in pictures, or in real life.
  • Invasive Procedure: Medical procedures involving needles, injections, or blood draws.
  • Fear of Injury: Fear of one’s blood or the blood of others, especially after accidents or injuries.
  • Medical Condition: Fear of blood resulting from trauma or another underlying medical condition.
  • Generalized: A widespread, all-encompassing anxiety about blood that may not have a single source but makes people anxious in various blood-related circumstances.

Impact of Hemophobia

Hemophobia can have varying effects on individuals. The effects depend on the severity of the fear and how it manifests in their lives. It can make everyday tasks such as going to the doctor, participating in certain sports or hobbies, or pursuing a career in emergency services or healthcare more challenging.

Furthermore, a persistent fear of blood can result in ongoing anxiety and stress. This, consequently, can negatively affect one’s mental health and overall general well-being. Blood-related situations or blood itself may cause sweating, dizziness, fast heartbeat, and fainting.

Overall, hemophobia can adversely impact an individual’s quality of life by impairing their ability to handle daily tasks, build relationships, and maintain emotional stability.

Treatment and Management of Hemophobia

Psychotherapy is the most common treatment for hemophobia. In severe cases, a doctor may also recommend medication as a part of a comprehensive plan. Therapeutic interventions usually used to overcome the fear of blood are discussed below.

Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT [6*] helps patients understand and confront their irrational fear of blood. Negative thoughts and beliefs can worsen anxiety and phobias, so CBT helps in questioning the validity of these thoughts and replacing them with rational ones.

Exposure Therapy

In exposure therapy, the patient is gradually and systematically exposed to experiences that involve blood. This continues until he/she develops a coping mechanism to get over fear of blood. 

Relaxation Techniques

Different relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises are very beneficial for treating anxiety and phobias. You can use these techniques to release physical tension, diffuse stress, and manage the fear of blood.

Applied Tension

The Applied Tension technique [7*] is helpful for patients who faint at the sight of blood. In the technique, a person tenses his/her muscles for timed intervals. The exercise happens concurrently with the exposure to the trigger. The tension helps the patient to watch a scene with blood without fainting.

Distraction Techniques

Distraction can help reduce fear and anxiety by redirecting attention towards something neutral or positive. Some techniques for distraction include counting or noticing all the objects with specific characteristics in the surroundings.


Imagery involves using mental images or visualizations to create a sense of calm and relaxation. Two effective imagery techniques for overcoming the fear of blood are:

  • safe place visualization such as a beach or a cozy room,
  • positive outcome visualization where an individual successfully copes with a situation involving blood without experiencing overwhelming fear.

These exercises can help one feel more prepared and less anxious when faced with a real situation.


When it comes to medications prescribed for hemophobia, the doctor may prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a well-known class of antidepressants commonly used to treat anxiety disorders.


Hemophobia is a distressful disorder that can interfere with a person’s daily tasks and routines. The fear of blood can cause difficulties during medical appointments, avoidance behaviors, and other challenges.

People with hemophobia symptoms should seek professional help to be able to have a productive life. If you notice any warning symptoms and want to manage them, healthcare providers at MEDvidi are here to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hemophobia (the fear of blood) is quite common. It affects about 3% to 4% of the population. However, the exact number of people affected by a phobia of blood may vary, and there can be differences in the severity of symptoms and their impact on day-to-day functioning.

It’s common for people to experience some degree of uneasiness or fear when they come into contact with blood, particularly if they have had unpleasant experiences that link blood to harm or danger.

While some sort of anxiety or discomfort around blood is normal, it becomes problematic when it causes significant distress or seriously impairs day-to-day functioning.

Like other specific phobias, hemophobia can be treated, yet the term “cure” may not be the most appropriate way to describe the outcome of the treatment. Many people with a fear of blood can learn to control their fear and have happy lives with the right help and support.


7 sources
  1. The psychophysiology of blood-injection-injury phobia: Looking beyond the diphasic response paradigm
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  2. Blood Injury and Injection Phobia: The Neglected One
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  3. The Genetic and Environmental Structure of Fear and Anxiety in Juvenile Twins
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  4. Gender and age differences in the prevalence of specific fears and phobias
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  5. Blood-injury phobia
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  6. A comprehensive group-based cognitive behavioural treatment for blood-injection-injury phobia
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  7. A specific behavioral method for treatment of blood phobia
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.