Health Watch - A Matter of Mind: Needle Nerves

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about how your mind affects your health. Your attitudes influence the actions you take on behalf of your health. Vaccinations have turned dreaded diseases into footnotes in history books, but if you’re afraid of needles, you won’t get the benefits.

You’re not alone if you dread needles. Dr. Deborah Wiebe, a psychologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says needles are a common fear. You can manage this fear with some simple strategies. It may help to know exactly what to expect, so ask the health care provider to explain each step of the process. Distract yourself during the shot by using your imagination. Think about being in a pleasant, relaxing place, like on a beach, with the sun warming your body. Make sure you keep breathing during the process. Take slow, deep breaths and concentrate on relaxing your muscles. Different strategies work better for different people, so keep trying until you find something that works. A phobia of needles may require professional help.

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January 2011


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