by Ken Goodman, LCSW
Fear of vomiting emetophobia

Just announced! How to Free Yourself from the Fear of Vomit and Reclaim Your Life: A Healing Journey Shared by Therapist and Patient - Live Free Webinar - February 25 - 1:00 pm EST. 

The fear of vomiting can become so all-consuming and terrifying that eating becomes a struggle and weight loss becomes dangerous. As sufferers try to protect themselves from throwing up, their world shrinks until it becomes impossible to work, go to school, or to socialize. This was Kay prior to treatment. In this live free webinar, Ken Goodman, author of The Emetophobia Manual, interviews Kay, one of his former patients. Together they discuss her remarkable healing journey and how she freed herself from the fear of vomit and reclaimed her life. This webinar will be presented live giving viewers a chance to be a part of the conversation with plenty of time to ask questions of both guests. This is a unique opportunity to hear from the perspective of a therapist and a patient as you learn the key components to change and success. The webinar is the second of a two-part series and it is recommended that you watch part one prior to watching part two. 

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.


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!

Just announced! How to Free Yourself from the Fear of Vomit and Reclaim Your Life: A Healing Journey Shared by Therapist and Patient - Live Free Webinar - February 25 - 1:00 pm EST. 

Also by Ken Goodman:

Additional Resources:

About the Author


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.


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


    Hi Richard,

    Thank you so much for your reply to my comment. I have heard about this therapy but doubted whether it would actually make a considerable difference to my life. Although after reading how much it has helped you I may have to reconsider seeking someone out in regard to this type of therapy. For a long time I was quite determined to overcome it myself as I hate the thought that I cannot just do this on my own but I'm starting to realise that if it helps me (and in turn those around me) and improves my quality of life then why not.
    Thank you so much for reaching out and giving me hope. I truly appreciate it!

    Hello, I have always had this phobia. One time my sister got the stomach bug when I was 8 and I had major panic attacks for the entire week that I had to stay with a family member and away from my sister. She would cry and I think that is when the fear can about. I am now 22 and I can do it when I’m really drunk and not cognitively there, however when I hear someone do it I get panic attacks and tense. Currently, i am sitting on the couch because my boyfriend had food poisoning earlier in the night and I am so scared that he is going to do it again that i can’t sleep and i now feel like I’m going to do it. My heart rate climbed to 140 bpm and I ran to the rest room, nothing came up.....but my stomachs is turning and I’m trebeling. It is effecting my relationship because my boyfriend has a rather weak stomache and when he even says he doesn’t feel well, I lose an entire nights sleep. He told me he has been holding it in because i make him feel self councious of it, even though he doesn’t fully understand the fear.

    Hi Danielle,

    It is honestly so horrible isn't it. I totally understand what you're going through. That feeling when you feel nauseous and the anxiety just makes it worse and you build it up so much that you physically cannot stop shaking and making yourself feel worse and there's not much you can do to calm yourself down. I've spent a lot of time shaking uncontrollably unable to sleep because I'm worried I'm going to be sick so I totally understand what you're going through.
    I have no real advice to offer you other than to say that you're not alone and we'll all make it through it eventually.. I hope.. haha.

    Hi for me this all started when I was 7 and I would get the stomach flu every year on my birthday for 4 years or until I was 11 and to this day my birthday is still very difficult for me and I full of anxiety and it is 3:40 in the morning and I can’t shake this god awful fear please someone help me.

    Last year in February I was sick and from then to October it was Really bad I kept on felling like I was going to be sick now I fell better in my everyday life but if I ever have a moment it can be just as bad it is always lurking int the back of my
    head I had cartain things that help me get through it I would highly recommend using white noise when you go to sleep it works really well and listen to a app called clam with lots of amazing mediations

    Thank you for giving me hope that this may not last forever! I have always had a fear of vomiting but it started as a fear of others vomiting. This past summer I went through a tough time and a loss of pregnancy, through that I was nauseous for almost two months. I was barely eating anything and when I did, it was crackers. It’s now six months since and I still feel nauseous at least 5-6 days a week. It has caused me to eat bare minimum, I used to enjoy food and now am terrified I will get food poisoning from everything. I count hours from when I last ate and don’t eat out unless it is the only option. If I do eat out I get something I believe to be “safe” I think that feeling nauseous and the anxiety of being sick is worse then actually vomiting. I still get the shakes and an anxiety attack, even angry when someone around me feels sick or is sick. It something I wish I could stop. It is truly ruining my life. I know I was all over with this but it is nice to vent it out because no one on my life understands, they all just tell me I’m crazy, I need to get over it and just eat and I’m tired of feeling unheard. Thank you for helping me see I’m not alone.

    This sounds like me! I’ve always suffered from minor emetophobia but it took a turn for the worse when my husband caught a virus 3 months ago. It’s all I think about now. I’m afraid that I will catch food poisoning if I eat out and will too count how many hours it’s been since I ate to make sure I’m in the clear. I’ll think “it’s been 5 hours since I last ate. if I had food poisoning, I’d probably be feeling sick by now.” Its crazy how powerful the mind is. Mine is worse at night and I’ll convince myself I don’t feel well, which makes my anxiety even worse. I’m just tired of feeling this dread all of the time. I wish there was a magic pill to make it go away so that all of us who suffer could live without worrying about it.

    Hiya. Id love to chat. I have a massive fear of vomiting and I’m a single mother. It consumes my every day life. I seriously need help with this :(

    I have this phobia and have had it since I was 9 years old(now I'm 25) I can remember every time that I've gotten sick and praying that it would never happen again. I used to fake sick for days so I wouldn't have to go to school if someone in class had just gottem sick. And it's stopped me from getting on rollercoasters or pursuing a career in nursing or teaching ( because a child or patient could get sick). My mom was in the hospital and I felt horrible that I couldn't help her while she got sick. It's miserable! Every time someone says they don't feel well I immediately pray they won't throw up. I'd prefer any other physical pain than throwing up and I can't stand it! I'm even scared to get pregnant because of the morning sickness. I'm so glad I'm not alone but I can't wait to conquer this fear. I've had enough!

    I am 23 and have the same phobia and it’s consumes my every single day and it’s so frustrating and it’s getting to me badly today. Please reach out so we can talk about it I feel like it could help us both! my Instagram is lexi_triscari

    Thank you for this. I sent your message to my boyfriend and his response was “you wrote that didn’t you” I said no but how relatable is this to me. You are certainly not alone.

    Did you read my mind!! This is exactly what I have I’ve considered seeing a psychologist or therapist to see if they could finally help me get over my fear... but with COVID that process is taking such a long time! 😫

    I also feel most of the same things you do, Every day at school i sit and worry and have anxiety about everything i touch and if it might have a virus on it or something. there’s also certain things i won’t eat, like i heard lettuce and leafy greens were one of the main things that people get food poisoning from so i avoid lettuce at all costs, and i love lettuce. i rarely go out to eat anymore because i only trust myself cooking my food thouroughly and cleanly. and i will have panic attacks and anxiety every day because of this phobia, i’ve had it since i had i got a bad stomach bug when i was 7 and it’s gotten worse now that ive gotten older (I’m 19). I started Cognitive behavioral therapy but only made it to the first session and slacked off on going back, i get anxiety leaving my house and while driving, hope things get better for you and everyone on this forum cause it really sucks.

    I have a huge fear of throwing up. I would rather die than throw up, which seems like a lot. I also hate it when people say they feel sick. Right now 120 people in the high school are sick. When someone says they feel sick I freeze and full on start trembling.

    I try and ask people, casually, "So, do you feel nauseous or headache or...?" If they that they have a sore stomach, I FREAK OUT! I can't believe more people feel the same way as me!

    My fear of vomit started a while ago when I was in 3rd Grade (I'm in 8th now) and the fear still haunts me. Me and my mom decided to get Pizza from Papa Johns for dinner. After we ate I decided to go to sleep. While trying to go to bed tho I suddenly got the uneasy feeling that I was about to vomit. I went to my mom to tell her how I felt and then that's when it happened. I have never eaten at Papa Johns sine then because I was terrified that I might vomit again. There is not a day that goes by when I don't feel nauseous. I even take a little bit of Pepto Bismol everyday because it gives me relief. But sometimes it gets so bad that i lock myself in the bathroom and just sit next to the toilet scared to death that I might vomit. The fear and anxiety is even worse at public places especially school. A couple of times I even went to the nurse and just layed in there but still didn't feel better so I would leave early. This phobia just controls my life and limits me to doing things I want to do. If you have any suggestions to help me try and get over this phobia please tell me on here or on snap or insta.

    snap; exma_5
    insta; emmaenglish

    I've been like this for years, I didn't think there was anyone else out there that felt that extreme like me, stay strong it will ease

    I have this same exact phobia!!It's awful. It feels like it's taking up my whole life! I lie awake at night and the same thought......"what if I wake up in the middle of the night and vom.....I can't say it. I feel really anxious at school too.especially after lunch because I worry that I'll throw my lunch up. I NEVER actually throw up. Every time I'm anxious I feel like I'm gonna puke but I NEVER do. I feel really anxious when I'm away from my mom. I know that sounds dumb. But it isn't to me. I love my mom and she comforts me when I'm anxious. I hate this phobia!!!!!

    i feel the exact same way about my mum when i have my attacks.

    Literally if I have acid reflux I will be so scared, I try to convince myself throwing up is no big deal, but when my sis throws up i book it, so I’m glad I have somebody I can agree with

    I couldn’t agree more, I try to make excuses not to get on the bus, I try to attend clubs so I can go home with my mum or I get on a shorter bus rout. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about it, it ruins my life and I want to get rid of it as soon as possible; I’m just too afraid to get help/counselling because I tried telling my mum and she didn’t believe me, she just laughed it off and forgot about it when I really wanted her to help me. Not sure what I would do without these webpages.

    I get the exact same thing as you! If I heard about someone who feels/is/or has been sick, I freeze up and get super dizzy. Then, if I'm at school I'll try to get my parents to pick me up!! I feel so bad, but no one gets it! I am a teen and I have had that problem for almost my whole life! I am so glad I now know what I have and how to treat it! I am so happy to know others suffer the same as me and I am not alone!

    it’s a stomach bug going around now & a girl in my class had it, she sat in front of me & as soon as she said she didn’t feel good, i freaked out,my hands were sweaty & i was shaking so i texted my mom & asked her to come get me but she just said i’ll be fine & i was just thinking to myself that she doesn’t get it , i was so scared that she was going to get sick in front of me & now i feel sick, i hate this feeling so much

    My daughter feels the same way exactly.
    One time a kid vomitted in the her school bus and she was shaking, crying, became lightheaded and weak. Another time we were on a boat and her aunt felt nauseous and she started crying and became like crazy panicking and saying that she wanted to get out of there because she couldn't see the vomit, but we were on a boat and it looked as she was going to jump. I also remember another occasion in which I fell for a very high chair, while I was standing on a stool chair, and hit my head very hard in the concrete. I thought I was going to die and broke my skull. My daughter came to help me and brought some ice but she keep saying "please don't throw up! please don't throw up! you know I can't handle it.." I know cognitive behavior therapy is the best treatment but it is hard to find places like that around me. If anybody has other ideas of how I can help her let me know!. Thanks!

    Dear Holly
    I am nearly 39 and live in uk..I have exactly same phobia as you although I am now a nurse so am ok with looking after patients that puke. Infact I am almost obsessed with watching sometimes and use this as exposure therapy. But, what I do not want is anyone where I am staying to vom or for me to vom. Its been 20 years this year since I lost vommed. I get diarrhoea far more frequently. But the fear of vomiting makes me shake and go numb and I have to leave holiday destinations or rush home from wherever I am. The panic is awful. But I used to associate music that I heard with the time I saw someone puke and 20/30 yrs later I never forgot.

    I’m happy and relaxed to see I’m not the only one out there who has this fear that almost takes up every second of the day. As I grow older I feel like it’s worse and worse. Especially during sick season. I scroll through Facebook and if someone posts that they are sick or their child is sick with a stomach illness I freak out and watch that status for days and watch that persons profile to see when they’re feeling better. Couldn’t tell you why. Even if i haven’t been around that person. And I look to see if others comment and say their sick too to see how bad it’s still going around. I hear the word “vomit” or “my stomach hurts” out of anyone and i panic that they’re getting sick and then I’ll be sick because I was around them all day. I use so much hand sanitizer at work I know ppl are looking at me funny after a while. The second I feel nauseous myself I panic and immediately go to “I’m getting sick” and have to talk myself down before I make it worse. I’ve been having an issue since right before Christmas where I’ve just been so nauseous all the time and I’m unsure if it’s my anxiety with the sickness going around or if something else is medically wrong but every night/day when I’m feeling sick I say to myself “here we go” and I tell myself I’m getting a stomach bug and tell myself to get ready to be throwing up for 24 hours or more. I’ll sit in front of a toilet or trash can and just flat out panic. I’m a wreck because of my phobia! Especially in the winter months! I remember every time and every detail from when I’ve been sick with a stomach virus as a child. I remember back to even kindergarten up until now mostly every time I’ve thrown up. Most people can get sick and get over It as soon as they're better. They don’t panic just hearing the words stomach bug they understand that getting sick isn’t the end of the world. I wish I could be normal like that but I have this fear and phobia of throwing up and It takes up my whole entire mind most days. I’m glad there are others who can relate. I believe i should get some help because it’s not just a thought anymore it’s a fear that’s affected my life. I just want to be normal! Lol or half normal

    You aren’t the only one. I’m afraid of both. If it helps, I’m
    99.9% sure stomach bugs can only be passed through body fluids, so wash those hands a LOT if anyone does end up sick. Distract yourself from the fear (try to) and maybe hum something or listen to music. It’ll all be okay. :)

    It mostly happens at school. I haven't really heard of my case, but it's the sound that triggers me. If someone in my class feels nauseous or has been sick recently, I freak out. I also freak out and try to avoid others who will potentially get me sick. In a way, I'm scared of myself vomiting and someone else doing it.

    I have had this fear since I was In kindergarten, it has been the main point in my life. In fact it surrounds it. I am severely underweight because of this. I am 17 years old and weighing only 85 pounds. It isn’t healthy but no one understands. What makes it even worse is I have a 1 year old daughter. And as I’m writing this, she is sick with a stomach bug and has thrown up 2 times. My mom bless her heart took my daughter to my aunts house for the night. I freaked out and wouldn’t even touch my own daughter I’ve tthis fear, if anyone would like to talk and understands what I’m going through please Snapchat me- sunny0uT

    I can completely relate to all of your comments. I’ve always had a fear of vomiting but it has got so much worse since I’ve had children, and since the whole family had an awful vomiting bug six months ago. If anyone even says they feel sick I get a rush of panic, and have to ask what it is (because I need to know if it’s contagious). As soon as I realise it’s not contagious I’m completely fine. It’s so hard when you have kids because they are sick all the time, and I know I need to just accept that, but I am constantly worried about it. I also stop eating if I hear someone has vomited, because I’m so stressed about it. My husband really doesn’t understand, and it’s so hard for him when he feels unwell because instead of looking after him I go into full-blown panic mode. He just messaged me to say his colleague vomited, so now I’m sitting here freaking out. It is having such a huge, unnecessary effect on my life. And I’m worried I’m giving my children the phobia - when my daughter says she has a sore tummy she then usually follows up with “but don’t worry mummy, I don’t need to vomit”. I just wish this feeling would go away. But I didn’t realise how many other people felt like this, so it helps knowing I’m not the only one.

    hi, i am also 17 years old and i suffer from this same thing so bad. i am also underweight because i never want to eat anything because in the back of my head i always think i'm gonna throw up. i have practically stopped going to school because my fear controls my life. even tho i know i'm only 6 months away from graduating i still cant get over it enough to go to school. i lay awake at night crying and shaking and i sleep with at least one light on at light i'm so scared. i never really sleep anymore because of it . whenever someone in my family is sick i always have to leave and go somewhere else. i would love to be able to reach out and talk to other people about this who suffer.

    Hi I'm also 17 I understand exactly how you feel. I had to quit school because of my phobia. It's currently 2 am and I'm up freaking out. I'm underweight too and I'm constantly worried. My boyfriend doesn't get it and I feel like I annoy him when I panic. This is such a hard thing to deal with I feel like I'll never be able to have a drink or even kids someday. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who goes through this, makes me feel less alone.


    January 16, 2019

    In reply to by alexis

    I’m absolutely the same. I’m scared to eat or drink too much. I’m scared to go on the bus or even at school because I think I’m going to vomit. The worst thing is I feel nauseous all the time and I’m petrified that I’ll puke in a public place. I even stopped going training ( which I loved doing so much) because I’m scared that I’m going to puke. My parents and friends don’t understand so it will be nice to talk to someone who does

    I am 57 and have suffered with this since I was about 10. I have no problem if I feel or am sick myself but if someone else say's they feel sick............I'm off like a shot no matter what I'm doing or whoever I have to leave behind and I immediately get stomach pains and have the urge to defecate which kind of brings the saying 's..t scared' in to reality. We only have one toilet in our house so I worry about what would happen if my husband was sick and I needed the toilet at the very same doesn't bear thinking about! I have to force myself to travel on public transport and if on my own I would make sure I could listen to music through head phones just in case someone was sick. Socially, I will drive myself to christmas parties etc so that I don't have to travel with people that have had a few too many, again in case they are sick in the mini bus etc. I blame myself for turning my husband in to a man that feels he can't go out and enjoy himself fully otherwise I can't cope when he returns home. I could go on and on but would be hear all night. It is a very debilitating phobia that controls what I do. I have been to counselling over it twice but nothing works so I guess I will have to carry on avoiding certain situations for the rest of my life. I don't know anyone else with this condition so have never been able to talk to anyone who understands what I go through. I'm sorry that there are more of you that suffer with this but at least we can all sympathise with each other.

    I feel the same I don’t care if I feel sick I’m just worried about others just now my sister doesn’t feel well so I’m sitting in my room in darkness and a locked door it’s so fraustrating In school it’s absolutely horrible and I hate having parties because I know someone is going to throw up

    I am the exact same and it really ruins some days. Like at school I just think oh god what if they don’t get out in time and get sick on me and like it makes you rethink everything like wanting to sit in the inside seat so the person beside you can get out easily if they feel sick. I honestly hate it like I get panic attacks and just overthink everything.

    Often I’m really worried someone will throw up and I get anxiety attack’s. I start shaking and crying an hyperventilating and I’m only 12 years old and when one of my friends threw up in the changing room I just heard someone said she threw up I started crying and had to go outside and I was shaking and crying it’s severely bothering me and I want to not feel comfortable and have anxiety when others or my self is going to be sick

    I feel really bad for you! eventually it will get better I promise :)

    Hi I’m currently experiencing this right now and if anyone wants to help me get thru this right now then please please do :( I would appreciate it so much. I need someone who understands me

    Oh my goodness. This has been awful. Every single day of my life I just can't stop. I am constantly having panick attacks and I am almost always nauseas. BUT, I have not thrown up in nearly 9 years. I don't know what the heck is wrong with me, but I just honestly want it to stop. It is so hard to deal with this because you can't enjoy your family time! Something I love to do when I am freaking out is walk outside, or open a window, because the fresh air can just calm you down. Talk to yourself OUT LOUD. This makes sure your mind is occupied. Tell yourself, you obviously have an amazing immune system because you haven't thrown up in a LONG time, so why would get sick now?