The applied tension technique helps prevent you from fainting by temporarily raising your blood pressure. This can help if you have needle phobias or faint before an injection.

Many people are afraid of needles, shots, and blood work. But for some, the anxiety is extreme enough to be considered a phobia.

People with needle or injection phobias — known as trypanophobia — may experience physical and mental symptoms when getting an injection, including stress, anxiety, and fainting or loss of consciousness.

While you may need additional therapy to address what underlies those fears, you may find that the applied tension can stop you from fainting at the sight of a needle or during a procedure that involves a needle.

Trypanophobia is a fear of medical procedures involving the use of needles or hypodermic syringes. It involves extreme fear and you may avoid beneficial medical appointments or procedures because of it. Trypanophobia is a type of specific phobia.

Needle phobias can cause a condition known as vasovagal syncope, which is the medical term for fainting or passing out due to a temporary loss of blood pressure.

Though its cause is often unclear, experiencing pain or emotional distress are known triggers.

The applied tension technique can help prevent fainting when getting a shot. The technique involves tensing your muscles to artificially raise your blood pressure. This helps you stay conscious even if you have an extreme fear of needles.

The applied tension technique involves sitting in a chair and tensing the muscles in your body until you feel warmth in your face. Then, you relax your muscles, wait a few seconds, and tense them again.

Tensing and relaxing your muscles several times before the injection helps keep your blood pressure elevated during the blood draw or shot. This can stop you from fainting at the sight of the needle or during the procedure.

Before trying the technique, you may find it helpful to work with a therapist who can show you how to master it.

As a 2012 study reports, many phobia and anxiety-related therapies seek to help you relax. While this is effective for certain fears, feeling too relaxed may mean that your blood pressure is lower and fainting may be more likely to occur.

Though it can help you get through an injection, the applied tension technique doesn’t actually treat your phobia or the underlying reasons for your fears. There are however several effective methods to help you get over your fear.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is among the most common treatments for specific phobias.

This therapy involves facing what you fear in a controlled, safe environment with a mental health professional. Over time and with repeated, gentle exposure, you can learn to manage your anxiety response and understand that you don’t need to be afraid.

Research suggests that up to 90% of people with specific phobias respond to exposure therapy.

In a 2018 study, researchers found that exposure therapy combined with deep breathing and the applied tension technique was an effective treatment for people with a fear of needles.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may also help people deal with phobias.

CBT is a type of therapy that helps you learn to reframe how you think and respond to the world around you. In the case of phobias, it can help you to gradually change how you think about the thing that causes you fear.

A primary care doctor may be able to help you find a therapist, or you can search for therapists who are National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists certified here.

You can also check out Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource.

The applied tension technique involves artificially raising your blood pressure to help prevent a fainting response. Some people — especially those with a needle phobia — use it before medical procedures.

The technique involves tensing and relaxing your muscles to create a temporary rise in blood pressure. Though it doesn’t directly address the phobia, it can help prevent you from fainting in response.

You may find that exposure therapy and CBT may help you manage your phobias. Talking with your doctor or searching online may give you a good starting point for finding a therapist.