Anxiety and Fainting
Do people faint with anxiety?
We do not faint when we are feeling anxious. Fainting is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure. When we are becoming anxious our blood pressure increases; heart rate increases and pushes blood around our body at a higher pressure. A lot of people feel light-headed with anxiety, but this is not a signal of fainting. Some people report a fainting experience when fears of fainting started, but on exploring what happened, the faint usually had another probable rationale, such as dehydration, heat, illness, etc. Read more about what anxiety can do to your body here.
A fear of fainting is one of the main concerns in Panic disorder
Blood and Injury Phobia
The one exception is ‘blood and injury phobias’ when people do faint, triggered by the sight or blood related thoughts (usually specific images). Again, down to Mother Nature, when we cut or see ourselves bleeding 'she' wants a lowered blood pressure to reduce the blood flow - making us more likely to survive an injury. This response (call the vasovagal response) can become triggered at a lower threshold, activating the nervous system slowing the heart rate and dilating blood vessels, all resulting in drop in blood pressure. At these times we can feel woozy... but the woozy feeling can be a trigger to anxiety. Importantly, when blood and injury phobics faint it happens when they are not anxious; they are fearful of situations where it might happen. In these cases, triggers such as seeing injection needles, immunisation, taking blood, GP surgeries, and are commonly avoided. Over time, unpredicted 'screen images' and pictures can trigger this so someone might avoid going to the cinema or looking at magazines. Blood and injury phobias are rare conduction but are physically safe and generally really easy to treat with cognitive behavioural therapy.