Do You Have Needle Phobia?

Nobody enjoys getting a shot, but how can you distinguish simple distaste for a needle prick from a full-blown phobia?

According to Dr. James Hamilton, a family practitioner in Durham, N.C., and a leading researcher on needle phobia, needle phobia affects at least 10 percent of the population.

The condition has been defined by psychological experts only relatively recently and it's currently included in the American Psychological Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).

The following questions aren't scientific, and they are no substitute for an expert psychological diagnosis. But your final score on these items may point to whether or not you possess some of the psychological traits or risk factors for needle phobia.

Curious? Take out your paper and pencils and get started!

Question 1:

Do you believe that you have a phobia of needles?

A) Nope. They've never bothered me.

B) I think so, mainly because it hurts to get jabbed!

C) I believe I do, though I can't say that there is any logical reason for the intensity of my fear.

Record your answer and move on to the next page when you are done.

Question 2:

You're at your doctor's office, and he or she tells you that you will need to get a shot. Which of the choices below best reflects your reaction?

A) I roll up my sleeve and hold my breath.

B) I become anxious and begin to bargain with the doctor to avoid the injection.

C) I either "freeze" or suffer a full-fledged panic attack.

Record your answer and move on to the next page when you are done.

Question 3:

Have you ever avoided medical treatment because you knew a needle would be involved?

A) Never. Shots aren't pleasant, but they've never scared me away from needed treatment.

B) Maybe once or twice. But when push comes to shove, I'll get my shots when I need them.

C) I frequently avoid seeing the doctor any time I believe an injection is going to be involved.

Record your answer and move on to the next page when you are done.

Question 4:

Has anyone in your family ever been diagnosed or reported having needle phobia?

A) No.

B) Though none of my relatives have ever been officially diagnosed, there is at least one who always expresses their fear of injections.

C) Yes, I have at least one immediate relative who has needle phobia.

Record your answer and move on to the next page when you are done.

Question 5:

Please rate how bothered your were by the pictures that appeared in this quiz.

A) They didn't bother me at all.

B) I found them somewhat disturbing.

C) I could hardly look at them without feeling anxious or repulsed.

Record your answer and move on to the next page when you are done.

How Did You Score?

You're done! You can calculate your score on this quiz by giving yourself zero points for each "A" answer, one point for each "B" answer and two points for each "C" answer.

If you scored 0-4 it is unlikely that you possess the characteristics of someone with needle phobia.

If you scored 5-8 you seem to share some of the tendencies of those clinically diagnosed with needle phobia. Speak with your doctor to learn more about whether you suffer from this condition.

If you scored 9 or 10 it is quite likely that you have some form of needle phobia. Talk with your doctor to find out for sure whether you suffer from this psychological condition.

Questions based on information gathered from Needle Phobia: A Neglected Diagnosis, Journal of Family Practice, Aug. 8, 1995, authored by Dr. James Hamilton.

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