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How to overcome a strong fear at the sight of blood?

Q: I am an 18 year old female from UK. I have had a strong fear of blood (haemophobia) for most of my life. My mum said it all began when I was about 3 and was having my blood taken in hospital (as I had been very ill) and the nurse told me to watch the blood and I did and then fainted. I tend to react by fainting most of the times and even the smallest amount of blood makes me panicky, break into cold sweats and then faint. It tends to only be other peoples blood though. If I have fainted recently then I feel very paranoid for the next couple of weeks that it will happen again. I also feel that how I react depends on the circumstances, for example I am most likely to go paranoid/panicky and faint if I am in unfamiliar circumstances around people I don't know that well, where as if I am in a secure environment where I feel comfortable I feel I can fight the feeling better. I was just wondering if cases like this were usual and if there was any advice I could get?

A:1. A psychiatrist might prescribe medication of the fluoxetine (prozac) type. 2. A psychologist might use psychological treatment to desensitise you to the sight of blood. Each has advantages and disadvantages. A medication trial might be effective only for as long as you stay on the medicine, and you have a long life ahead of you. Of course, medication might work and the phobia might not recur if you try going off the medication in 8-12 months. Psychological treatment might take months of weekly effort.

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