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.


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


Ken Goodman, LCSW, treats anxiety and OCD in Los Angeles.  He is the author of The Anxiety Solution Series, a step-by-step audio program, and Break Free from Anxiety, a coloring, self-help book for anxiety sufferers. Ken Goodman is an ADAA Clinical Fellow. Visit his website. 


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


    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?

    Hey Hailey, I’ve had this phobia for around 2 years now, and even though I don’t really know exactly what to say to help you though it, I just want to let you know that there are supportive people out there that want to help you, I also want to say that for me, talking about it every now and then with people I feel close to helps me. Also some days are much better than others so don’t feel like it’s always terrible, and don’t give up xx

    I know how you feel, I hate getting sick. Most of the time its the anticipation before you get sick, the shaking, nauseau and whatever else you may suffer from. Throwing up will only last a couple of seconds and then its over, you will feel much better. Its like going to the toilet, the feeling of needing to pee is uncomfortable but once you have you feel better. I feel the same way as you so when I feel lile I might get sick I think, itll only last a second then its over.

    I hope this helps :) would love to hear back from you

    Hi I’m faith, I’m 12 years old and this has been getting me for a while now. It is the worst thing that can happen but..... whenever I feel like I’m going to get sick I just breathe in and out very slow and tell my self “you will be ok,” “ there is no reason to even be sick”! And guess what no matter how bad I feel I never get sick. I just wanted to say that whoever is going through this you are going to be ok you can do this! It will be great in the end I promise just think positive!!

    I literally have the exact same thing. Whenever I feel a tad bit off it is the first thing that comes to my mind, and it takes hours to calm down. Every night before I go to bed I have anxiety because I am worried I could throw up during the night. I can logically tell myself it is silly during the day, but once I’m anxious at night it is a completely different story.

    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.

    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 !!