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by Ken Goodman, LCSW
Fear of vomiting emetophobia

If you have a fear of vomiting, just reading the title of this article might make you a bit queasy. The mere mention of the "V word" might send you into a state of anxiety. If you can relate, I encourage you to press on despite your worry, so you can take the first steps to overcoming it.

Emetophobia?

No one enjoys vomiting and everyone thinks it’s disgusting, but most people are not afraid of it. But if you suffer with this type of phobia (specifically known as emetophobia), you are not only repulsed by the idea of vomiting, you fear it. Many people say that the anticipation of vomiting is often worse than the act itself.

And because you don’t know when it will happen, you are constantly on guard, rearranging your life to ward off any possibility of puking.

What Causes Nausea?

Stomach discomfort and nausea can be caused by motion sickness, a stomach bug, food poisoning, excessive eating or drinking, food intolerance and…anxiety!

That’s right. Anxiety and worry can cause stomach discomfort and nausea. And if you don't vomit when you’re anxious…you won’t!

Treatment Works

Treating vomit phobia is best accomplished through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP). Treatment involves correcting faulty beliefs, reducing avoidance, and confronting challenging situations step-by-step. You are given tools, a new perspective, a winning mindset, and a strategy for facing your fears. Your motivation for ending your suffering is important because the therapy does take time, hard work, and courage. You must have self-discipline and determination to win. And if you do…you can beat emetophobia!

Also by Ken Goodman:

Additional Resources:


About the Author

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Ken Goodman, LCSW, treats anxiety and OCD in Los Angeles. He is the author of The Anxiety Solution Series: Your Guide to Overcoming Panic, Worry, Compulsions and Fear, A Step-by-Step Self-help Audio Program, Break Free from Anxiety, a coloring, self-help book for anxiety sufferers, and the Emetophobia Manual, for those who suffer with the fear of vomit.  Ken Goodman is an ADAA board member and Clinical Fellow. Visit Ken's website.

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Now available- Ken Goodman hosts an ADAA webinar on "Overcoming the Fear of Vomiting." Watch the video on ADAA's YouTube channel.

 

    i relate so much to this, it’s really good knowing i’m not the only one going through this. the only time this makes me feel anxious is when i’m going to bed, when i hear the word vom... and when someone around me that i know is sick and it makes me feel really yuck thinking about it. although the last time i was sick was at my year 8 camp because someone else was sick and i worried that much that i was sick and now i’m year 10. but it makes me feel a little better knowing i’m not the only one feeling this way

    I feel the same. I actually feel sick right now and just had a panic attack. I’m 13 and hate throwing up. I went to a therapist to help and got better for about a year until I got the flu. I had a panick attack after I through up and felt I couldn’t breathe. Reading through these comments makes me feel better and I’ve calmed down. Hopefully I don’t get sick and I just pray and text people and read to feel better.

    Hi cammi , and everyone ! I suffer from this to , I don’t know what your guys experiences were like throwing up , but I was terrified in 3rd and 4th Grade , I was always missing school and I always felt queezy , and I never threw up , until I went to therapy I started to get better , and I went to this doctor and she helped me so much ! She said are you smart , and my parents said well yes she is pretty smart , and she said well , smart people and kids over think things and that’s why most of us are so terrified of something that we honestly can’t control , when I was in 5th grade , I got the flu and threw up once , and after I laughed and I said , I can’t believe I was so scared of that , I feel better now, and currently I’m 13 and I’m terrified of throwing up again , it randomly came up and I was terrified to eat , I’m better with eating now , but still afraid of throwing up. Which is weird , but mainly I wish we could all convince ourselves that it’s human nature , and we can’t control if it happens or not so just try to remember that , I know it’s hard but try to remember, and guys your not alone 🙂

    currently im having a panic attack sitting in my room alone at night, worried to wake up my parents because i feel like theyre frustrated with my phobia. the slightest tummy rumble and i spiral into insanity. right now im shaking and crying and guzzling pepto straight from the bottle. i just really really dont want to throw up im so scared, so so scared.

    Honestly wake your parents up if need be. I do it if I'm really bad and cannot calm myself down. Just ask if one of them will sit with you and talk with you for 10minutes so you can start to calm yourself down. That's what I do when I truly feel so sick I think I may throw up. Or even message a friend. They may not be awake but sometimes even just the act of writing down how horrible you're feeling helps ! That and distracting yourself are my two biggest pieces of advice that are what usually can help me. Pull out your phone and play a calming game that requires you to focus or read an article about something completely unrelated or watch a youtube video. Sometimes its just a matter of going through things and working out what works best for you !! I hope this helps even just a little :)

    I’m 12 years old, and my phobia is a bit different, it’s a fear of vomiting while I’m feeling nauseous. So, I’m not constantly thinking about nausea, but when I do feel nauseous I freak out and start shivering like crazy. My whole body starts to shake as it is holding in the vomit. I always sit down, and wait for it to go away, and since it’s in spasms, whenever the slight feeling goes away, I drink an anti nausea medicine. Believe me, I sit like this for 2-3 hours! It mostly happens at night time, I’m not sure why. But I’m awake until 1:30am... I usually get really really tired, so I prop my pillow up and rest, and I end up falling asleep while sitting down. I’m super scared of vomiting, so I try my best to avoid it!! I also get nauseous when others around me say they are nauseous especially my friends or family members. Also when anyone vomits I get nauseous! I hope this goes away but I don’t know how to make it goooooo helllpppppp!!!!!!

    Hi Elise,

    If you're really worried about it maybe try talking to someone about it and maybe see someone about it?
    I have also tried talking out loud to myself when I think I'm going to throw up and just saying "but what if you don't. What if after freaking out for ages you end up being totally fine?". I know this is not always going to help because it doesn't for me but it does sometimes and it makes me rationalise it a bit more in my head.
    Also my number 1 tip is to just distract yourself. Its not always easy but especially in the middle of the night I pull out my phone or laptop or even if you have a book or something to try and keep your mind occupied it tends to help. Because I often find that once I try to distract myself with something that I need to focus on in order to do, I usually think less about how terrible I'm feeling!
    I really hope you're okay !!

    So I’ve had this phobia since I was about 4 years old and my mum told me that one day when I was 4 I saw sick on the floor whilst on holiday and I started screaming and panicking and I hated it, I can’t really remember my reactions but I always remember seeing the sick even at such a young age. When i was in school I was fine it didn’t really bother me and I was sick a few times and I just got on with it and the same with high school and college but over the past few years my anxiety has become really severe where at night time I get really bad attacks and shake and feel like I’m going to be sick I have to either get up and walk outside with fresh air or put a film on that I like (shrek) and it calms me down and I fall asleep the last time I threw up was 9 years ago from food poisoning so I know that the anxiety doesn’t make me sick because I never am and my immune system is brilliant my family never get sick and same with me but that’s what I don’t understand is why the anxiety is still there when I know I’m not going to be sick I’m just telling myself I am. I’m worried for having children and living with my partner because of them being sick and I can’t get away from that whenever my parents use the toilet in the night time it wakes me up and I put my fingers in my ears just incase there being sick and they never are! This has gotten me so depressed and suicide because I just think when will it end I will never get over it and I’d rather just die than live with it any longer. I am also taking the pill for the past couple years so I don’t know weather that has heightened my anxiety at all,if anyone wants to talk or just ask questions and advice then my Snapchat is abbeyriggxo glad I’m not alone

    I've always had the fear of throwing up. Whenever I feel nauseous, I'm worried I'll throw up. I have always exaggerated thoughts in my head like the obvious one,"I'm going to throw up". Whenever I go to public restrooms, I hear someone cough and I exaggerate that they're going to throw up, even though it was a simple cough. Up to this day, I avoided using public restrooms, which sounds ridiculous. My phobia gets worse every year and I feel like I need to see a therapist but at the same time I don't want to.

    I’m 16 years old, I have had the fear of throwing up for a very long time now. As I’m writing this rn I’m having an anxiety attack and trying to figure out how to calm down. I find this happening most often when I am about to fall asleep I start shaking and all I can think about is I’m going to throw up. Almost every time I don’t because I do everything in my power not too. I usually pace back and forth shaking very bad and sometimes pinch myself to try taking my mind off it. It’s currently 1:42 am. And I can not sleep. I’m searching for help on how to get rid of this fear and anxiety.

    Cristina Imparato

    August 2, 2019

    In reply to by Alyssa staten

    So basically i threw up today and yes I have a huge fear but I threw up from drinking too much (not fun) and I did everything in my power not to throw up, I scratched my necks really hard drank water chewed gum basically everything to try to keep myself from throwing up but it didn’t work and I ended up throwing up water. When I would dry heave I would literally have no control over my body and it would squeeze my stomach and the literal thought that went through my mind was if it happens it happens, but I think the real fear is vomiting in public for me. Like vomiting was almost as bad as I thought it was but since I only threw up water it just felt like I choked on water and coughed it up, and then after the first time my body violently threw up water and that’s the one that hurt. So I stopped drinking water and slept. After 3 hours I felt better but I didn’t eat anything yet and still felt sick but when I did end up eating I felt a lot better. Moral of the story if you don’t want to throw up don’t do thinks that could potentially cause you to throw up and I’m proud of myself for finally throwing up because I’m a little over my fear now but it went from 100% to about 75% so I still have this fear of what if I do it again randomly. But I promise you you won’t throw up in the middle of the night unless you normally throw up when you get sick. To calm down I listen to nostalgic calming music or just a regular calming song I happen to listen to that calm my anxiety. For me my anxiety made me feel like throwing up but I feared throwing up which gave me anxiety. But the thing that haunts me after throwing up today is the image that keeps on repeating in my head of my just throwing up. Like it makes me want to cry knowing I did it but like I’m really really glad it’s over and I wouldn’t ever want to do it again. Still very fearful of throwing up but I felt like I’ve grown a little since I threw up. Also since I haven’t thrown up in a while I was in denial that I would throw up so I was just kinda of standing near the toilet throwing up on the floor but the third time I threw up I finally just threw up in the toilet. It was really just a growing experience and I didn’t cry while puking I would just reassure myself with words like “wow you’re doing amazing” “look at you getting over your fear” “congrats we finally threw up” like I knew this was a growing moment but for people that still haven’t thrown up for a while please don’t think that throws up will help you get over your fear. It might but like only slightly but alway remember that life is short and you only got one to live. So what if you sent spend one day in your life throwing up you’ll forget about it eventually. But yeah there’s always a 50/50 chance you won’t throw up in your life time and I know how crucial it is that you don’t throw up but I’m here for all of you if you need to talk about your fear of throwing up 954-805-6413. I will listen and share my side of the fear and we can get through this fear together. Love you :)

    Hi I’m Nora ever sense I was little I have had the fear of throwing up…even the word vom…scares me every time I have a stomach problem I fear the worst I was doing pretty good for a little bit until I got the flu it scared me so badly but just talking to someone for a little bit can help I hope this helped you!

    Idk my background. But my daughter is 8 an same thing you are going threw. Now I use to have it an got over it. But I didn't know it had a name until I came to this site
    Crazy. I will tell her doctor about it. Thanks.

    Im shaking rn im scared, and i keep remindidng myeslef of the lats time i vomites, my stomach hurts but ik that its not possible to have the stomach bug sjnce we are in corna and cant catch t im just scared and nervous.

    I’m 15 and have the exact same this like it’s mostly as night I’m shaking and crying and my mum always calms me down and I avoid sleeping round other peoples houses in fear I might be sick at there I hate it and I with I couldn’t get rid of it bc it has a massive impact on my day to day life and I’m always leaving school earlier then I should bc I’m afraid I’m going to be sick in school it’s affecting everything I do and I want to get rid of it

    If you'd like to talk id love to I'm 15 as well and I dont really know when mine started
    ..but mines...well its something..i contemplate suicide just to not throw up.
    Taking the 'id rather she's saying to ajother level

    Id also love to talk to you if you ever need comfort because always needing to talk to someone cause in always feeling sick cause my anxiety.

    I’m in the same boat as you, I’m 13 as well and this has taken over my entire life, but it’s not just me throwing up, it’s also everyone around me, I recently went to an amusement park and I wouldn’t let my friend eat and then go on a ride. Even if they knew they wouldn’t throw up. My sister is feeling nauseous and I just spent 3 hours in my parents room and I’m considering sleeping in my moms office. It just consumes me.

    I am fine if I throw up because I know I feel better after it. I am almost 13 and when I am in class and someone claims they don’t feel well i begin to panic and shake. I will continually ask questions making sure they are alright and tell them to leave the class if they feel like they are going to puke. I have got permission to leave the class if I feel anxious but that also worries me about what others think. I was sick on the plane last year because I heard someone being sick. The year before the a boy puked everywhere and I felt sick during landing. I get very anxious but my mum thinks it is stupid. I really don’t know what to do and need help to cure my phobia. Anyone that can help me please contact my snapchat weehollie123!!

    My brother had just a simple stomach ache and I totally freaked out and got so scared that I was in my room forever just sitting their crying scared. It’s so hard to explain how I’m scared to my friends. The reason I have this is because my brother barfed on me one night when I was about 3-4 yrs old. Ever since then I’ve had this phobia of people throwing up in front of me. ?

    Hi I’m Ellie and I’m 12 years old I and my fear has taken over my life and because of it I miss out on a ton of activities it felt great to be looking at all your comments because Ik that you all feel the same but when I’m around nobody is allowed alcohol and my mum always tells me to leave the adults alone but I can’t its like there’s a force pushing me towards them. My problem is not healing at all I take therapy but it isn’t working my sister is hungover right now she has been sick a couple of times and I just can’t control my anger and my anxiety I’m scared but I still want to kill hope some people will understand where I’m coming from ? Thank you for reading

    Hello, I'm turning thirteen in a few weeks and I'm going through the exact same thing as I type. I was in the store with my sister and mom and I started to get an upset stomach. Ive had a history of my sugar levels dropping and getting the same feeling, but I ate right before we left. The whole time we were there, I was shaking and couldn't sit still because I started getting really nauseous and knew in the back of my mind that I really needed to throw up. We got home and I went to the bathroom and started panicking, crying, trembling and getting an anxiety attack as I sat in front of my toilet. I looked up he phobia, then how to overcome it, and I was brought here. My mom asked if I was okay and I explained to her that I really needed to throw up but it have me too much anxiety to do so. She suggested I just go lay down and take my mind off of it.

    Hello! I have had the EXACT same situation. Anytime I ask my mom she says I’m going to be fine but that someday it will happen. Unfortunately that gives me anxiety and I get Panic attacks too. I’m always looking at expiration dates and it has gotten worse since I don’t trust that whatever I’m eating is ok. I’m 13 and I haven’t thrown up for 5-6 years. Th last time I puked was because I had not eaten at all, then before that because I had the flu (9yrs ago). I don’t know why this happens to me but I have some tips:
    1. After throwing up I remember feeling way better and the best thing is that you hardly remember it.
    2. Usually if you haven’t been sick for a long time that means that you will be fine unless you get really ill. ( Severe stomach bug). Once a family member got sick and they did not throw up Mainly bc of strong immune system. If you want to make it stronger I suggest Orange juice and vitamin C
    3. I naturally have low blood pressure there fore I tend to get nauseous once in awhile but It makes me feel better because I know the cause and a way to fix it. (Nuts or salty foods)

    I hope this helped a bit and know that you will be fine ?

    Yeah I have the same thing but I remember vividly the last time I threw up. I remember what I ate and now I flip my lid when I eat that food. We had it for dinner tonight and my sister said she doesn’t feel well and it just makes me feel worse. I’m constantly asking are you alright and trying to stay away from the issue.

    I have had this extreme fear of throwing up since I was very little. I keep checking expiration dates and panic about it a lot. I remember the last time I threw up and what I ate. When my siblings say they feel sick or even have a stomach ache I constantly ask if they are ok or if they are better. The more they say no the more panicky I get. I usually just stay as far away from them, go sit in my room, and sometimes cry. This phobia is taking over my whole life. HELP

    I'm In the littoral exact situation, im 13 F, and I haven't puked in 5 years. But ever since I did, I've had an extream fear of puking. About a month ago my stomach hurt in the middle of the night and I started crying. I ended up having a panic attack and it was the worst feeling ever. my mom helped me. I really want this fear to go away, It's starting to affect my day-to-day life.

    I have had the same problem with not vomiting at all, I haven’t in the last 5-6 years. My parents think I’ve gotton so bad with the phobia my body is too scared to from the anxiety! I really wish this would just go away, yesterday my sister throw-up and I had to go in the car with her and I started crying so much because I didn't want to get in with her, I just wanted to go to my grandparents house away from all the mess.

    I feel the same way and I got a stomach ach and I was in my 5th period and now everyday I get scared I might get a stomach ach and puke in class. I am always asking to use the bathroom and every time my stomach hurts I cry and freak out. I get such bad anxiety about it and I hope it stops one day but it really disturbs me in class and it prolly disturbs my teachers when I’m asking to use the bathroom. And even at home it disturbs me and I am always cautious so that I won’t catch the stomach flu and puke. Anything that you can puke from I try my best to avoid that thing. I wish there was a cure and I hope it gets better

    I remember when I was 3-4 I puked a lot but I didn’t really care because my mind wasn’t developed that much until I got the stomach bug when I was 8 that gave me acid reflux and anxiety. Ever since u would be terrified then when I was 9-12 it was great until June 2018 when I got food poising from Wendy’s. I was have so much diarrhea and in the middle of the night I puked. I was terrified. I was happy though because I thought to my self “wow now I won’t throw up for another 5-6 years but I haven’t but in September I started feeling queezy and I’ve been feeling it ever since I miss like a week of school and as I’m fighting this I think I have the flu but I don’t feel it in my stomach I feel it in my throat I’m praying it’s just gurd or something I just hope i don’t throw up. My legs feel weird and I think I might have diarrhea but my stomach feels normal and my throat feels weird but I’m not cold or sweaty and I’m have an anxiety attack

    Ok so I have acid reflex to it sucks , and I have a fear a throwing up to , Adam currently I’m on an acid reflex medication called prevesid , I don’t know talk to a doctor , it really helps , like soooo much ! And I get all this guys I am terrified to throw up , but hey you feel better after , so when your actually sick , pray that you will throw up , it sounds crazy but it’s true .

    I’m 13 too, I haven’t thrown up since 2nd grade and I’m petrified of it, rn it’s 1 am and it’s the first time I’ve stayed up from this, idk what to do and I just want it gone,

    Same! I haven’t vomited in 9 years then I vomited. I was fine but then one week later I didn’t eat and when I did I would get nervous and I though I would puke. Even though I knew I would.

    Wow I never knew about this phobia intill I red this page I thought I was always the only one that had this phobia i had it since I was 8 I have gone on a plane a few times I would feel dizzy, nausea and sore throat but I have never actually puke. On TV I hate watching people puke and I freak when I hear the word(you know). I also am scared to go on rides at the fair and in cars, to doctors and
    dentists I have fell a bit better that I am not the only one.

    Hi. I’m sorry to hear that. I’m the same way & right now my anxiety is worse than ever. My mom got the stomach bug last night but I’ve been at my dads house & now i’m at my boyfriends for the night. I’ve been constantly praying I don’t get it. It’s 1am & I feel nauseous probably from anxiety.

    Same here. I’m 14 yea old F and I haven’t puked in 5 years. Last time I puked wasn’t a long time ago. I remembered everything and the pictures in my head are haunting me everyday and night. I don’t know what to do and soon my dad is going on vacation and I’m going to be all alone with my mum, but he thing is she works almost 24/7 so I’m alone most of the time. Every night before I go to bed I always have this though like “what if i wake up at night and feel sick and need to puke”. If someone have any tips for me then please feel free to messege me or contact me on instagram:nikiss05 or Snapchat:nikiiee005

    I know EXACTLY how that feels I’ve been struggling with this since I was your age and I’m 18 right now I still have a rough time. When I do get nauseous or scared I feel alone and end up shaking and crying with a panic attack your not alone and we can get through this

    i’ve had the stomach bug twice in my life. i’m 15 and the times i had it i was 10 and 14. i am dead scared of this phobia and ever since i got sick(church was in january and it’s now june of the same year) there isn’t one night where i don’t feel queasy but every single time it’s caused by my anxiety of it. i have never vomited because of my anxiety and what helps me is watching videos on my tv or on my phone or playing phone games to take your mind off the anxiety. i’ve looked up so many ways that will make you vomit and tonight was one of those nights. i searched up will you vomit if you lose blood and it’s very unlikely. i picked a scab and lost a good amount of blood from yesterday and today but know you will get through this and you will not die

    Hi, I understand this and the last time I’ve puked was 4 years ago. Ever since then, I’ve been worried about puking since I don’t like it. One thing that helps me is to walk around and take deep breaths. Sometimes it start a conversation and all of the sudden I’m not worried anymore.

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