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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, 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. 

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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 feel the same as all of you. i’ve only been developing this fear since last year. every time i start to feel a bit off i start to pace around and overthink, if i do actually throw up it’s not as bad as i thought it’d be. i don’t know if i have emetophobia because i’m scared to feel sick or even be sick infront of people. i am even scared to be sick infront of my own family. i feel like it is emetophobia but i’m not scared of vomiting ? i just get really bad anxiety about throwing up. i get really scared to vomit continuously or even get a virus/ stomach bug. i can’t do anything from drink alcohol or even eat too much food because i’m scared i will throw up. my friend always talk about going out and drinking but i can’t because i’m too scared. my friends also sometimes force themselves to vomit because it feels good after they do so. i’m honestly scared to see people vomit. please if you have any tips help me out. emetophobia is putting my into a depressive stage and makes my life hell. all i do is cry 24/7 because i hate it so much and i just overthink all the time.

    Hi guys, i know exactly what are you zaljubi about im having the same shirt here,recently im afraid to go to the restauranata because im afraid id get nauseas and might vomit,but slowly very very slowly im Getting over it sometimes i break down but never give up never,just go with it and it ll all be ok

    I still get wary and anxious during stomach flu season, but it used to be much much worse. I used to want to die because I spent my days trying not to throw up. I never ate anything spicy or new, I never went on boats or rollercoasters after eating; I would starve myself 2 days before I would go to a theme park, and I was terrified of other people being sick. I was so delusional when I look back on it. I learned that i wasn't scared of throwing up, I was scared of the anticipation of not knowing when I was throwing up. I gave myself daily pep talks about how it's a quick moment of my life when I would throw up and it's not the end of the world. I tried lots of new things and worked on my anticipation fear. I know that there's really nothing to be scared of, and that I "will live" as much as I hate that saying.

    My fear is that I'm going to get sick in public and everyone will be like umm what is wrong with you. Walking around, praying usually help. Talking out loud helps too like it blocks our that voice in your head that's afraid. I'm starting a new job next week and the "what ifs" keep playing in my head. It sucks i wish it would just miraculously go away.

    Hi I am Zoe and I am ten years old I have have a fear of throwing up or (someone else throwing up) this phobia has been controlling my life for about 3 years now. I am constantly thinking and worrying that I might vomit I am always worried that I will wake up in the middle of the night and vomit. A few weeks ago a girl in my daycare vomited and I am still convinced I have caught it for that whole day I had been sitting in a corner (as far away from the puke as possible) crying, sweating, and shaking. I have never went one day without thinking about it (I try to talk to my mom about it but she seems annoyed) my dad didn’t really care it always made me feel better when he would wrap his arms around me and tell me it is oki and I was. I have had a hard time ever since he died in a motorcycle accident Father’s Day morning so now I just try to calm down and focus on something else but it never works I just go into full blown panic mode. I am always asking casually : heyyy soooo has your stomach been hurting? Are you going to throw up? I have lost weight and stopped eating if someone says they feel the slightest bit sick I flip out i keep a five feet distance at all times and I don’t eat for another sixteen hours til I am convinced I will be ok I hate this phobia and I am sorry for anyone else who has to go through this.

    Im just gonna name the things i hate most about this... "FEAR"
    1. Kids on the bus next to me say "hay loook, im gonna throw up" and pretend to throw up cause they think its funny!
    2. i get dizzy because im paranoid ill throw up
    3. I dont eat a lot of things, only a lot of canned foods and ramen i know wont go bad
    4. its worse at night right around the time i get tired, resulting in me staying up to about 4 or 5 am
    5. its interfering with going places
    6. its making me grow farther from my family and making me feel less human-like cause i dont interact. OK, please reply if you have any tips, cause i got NOTHING!!! tysm

    I am 21 yo F I completely understand how everyone in this is feeling. I’ve had this phobia since I was at school so almost 10 years, it consumed every part my entire life, I wouldn’t want to go to school, in every situation I was in i’d have to figure out the nearest route out/to a toilet incase I felt sick or someone around me was sick. If I was feeling sick or knew someone around me was sick I literally wanted to die which is a terrifying thing for someone at 16/17 and awful for my parents to here.. what we really mean is that we want this feeling to end. If I heard someone was sick I would avoid them for weeks, washing my hands every 5 minutes and got panicked when I hadn’t washed them. I got panicked if I heard the word sick or vomit and have to find out what was going on. This is when I started to develop anxiety, I realised I was having panic attacks about it, I occasionally do have these attacks in the day time but it’s usually always at night, having to wake my mum up to look after me. I haven’t been sick since I was 12, I never drink enough to put myself in that position. If someone was sick at a party my parents would have to come and get me early. I started seeing a hypnotherapist for a few months and he literally changed my life. I am in no way cured because it does come and go but I can live a normal life now without it consuming me. I still get panic attacks and feel sick a lot, but I have IBS and that mind gut stuff is all related, I feel sick when I get anxious but I am never sick and now I know that when I am panicking it’s because I feel sick because of the anxiety and not the other way around. If I’m stressing about other things in my life it usually gets worse, or if I’m having particularly bad IBS day. So i’d recommend to someone with this phobia to see a therapist or a hypnotherapist, I found it extremely relaxing, they do a lot of the work for you and you just have to do little homework’s each session and it always helped me through some of the other hardest parts of my life grieving etc. Speak to someone you trust about it, I have been laughed at a lot by people who don’t understand and you don’t need those people in your life. Still now I go to my friends who understand my parents are always there for me whatever time of day, wherever they are. I once called them at 1am while I was at uni and asked them to drive an hour and a half to pick me up.. they didn’t because they knew it was just my anxiety but if I had properly needed them to they would have. Breathe deeply, distract yourself, do something you know comforts you. I always put a light on, open the door, sit up, put a program I know on (friends) and watch it until I calm down and fall asleep. My mum always knows to check on me now if the lights on and the doors open , she’s precious. So just to let you know it does get better, I still haven’t been sick and I can tell you I’ve felt sick about 1000 times, I am always here if anyone wants to talk about it as I know talking to someone with the same thing helps a lot. Abthorne09@outlook.com

    Hi im 17 and I have suffered from Emetophobia for about few years now. aND man,, has this issue really been a pain in my gut! (literally haha) I found out about have Emetophobia just recently and I did have a few scary experiences which probably lead to my fear of puking.

    Growing up I always had stomach issues and it was very overwhelming for me sense at the time I didn't know what was wrong with me, But now that im older and went to more doctors I found out my stomach pain/issues its from both Food Intolerance and some mental issues! It help me out so much to be honest and I got finally understand what was wrong with me. But sadly I still suffer from Emetophobia because of the bad experiences with vomiting in the past, I hope one day to over come it and be my normal self again because gee wiz this takes a lot out of me every night. I've been losing a lot of sleep and weight because I fear I will wake up feeling sick and miss school ( my school is strict about absents) which does help either heh

    im 17 and ive had this fear for about 3 years and it affects my daily life i constantly have stomach achs from atressing about it, it effects me at work, school i somtimes wont eat for hour cause of it, and cant leave my house for long in the feat of gwtting sick i just really want to get over it

    Was offered acid tonight by a good friend and my fiancé was on board but my thought process circled around getting sick and I couldn’t move past it. Moved towards all the things I’d rather have happen to me and it was very destructive. It’s crippling but it’s good to know there are others like me.

    That’s all...my brain felt the need to reach out and this is the forum I ended up on. Hang in there gang.
    Dq

    so I’ve been dealing with this for years!! I’ve had a minor suicide attempt, attempted to self harm and been depressed. And it’s not FUCKING WORTH IT (excuse the language). Tonight I ate out in a Restaurant which is something I REALLY struggle because my phobia of sick and germs, And believe I know it’s hard but what really helped was changing my mindset. I went from ‘what if I’m sick or I catch something’ to ‘live in the moment’. I know its hard and omg the worst thing to hear someone say when trying to help is ‘it’s not that bad’ but it it too us the people who struggle on a day to day basis. I’m still not completely over it the thought of being sick scares hell out of me but I’ve just decided if it happens it happens I’ll deal with it when I get there. It’s took me a lot of work and very dark times to get here but I’m proud I am. And I would like to be a psychologist so if you need any help what so ever message me on Snapchat ‘Charishh4’ ANY TIME AND DAY EVEN IF YOUR FREAKING OUT X

    I have this phobia and it's getting worse everyday. The unfortunate thing is, I also have IBS and as such, I can be nauseous everyday in some periods. It's a horrible feeling, where I always am under the illusion that I have food poisoning, when it turns out it's just an IBS-nausea episode.

    My nausea can even wake me up in the middle of the night, where I'd not just get out of bed, but exit the house and walk outside at 3am like a lunatic, with shaky hands and shortness of breath. Interestingly, walking and doing something physically excessive kills my nausea. I guess it's an "exercise" for the stomach to get the food processed. My mind tells me staying bed will make me puke, and so I have to 'escape'. But it works, at least.

    I haven't vomited in over 20 years. Though I got a stomach virus 11 years ago and it messed up my life. I didn't vomit during the virus, but it did take a toll on my life - Made me lose over 10kgs (and I was already thin) and it made me anorexic. On top of that, it went for 14 days, where I even had minor relapses of it in the upcoming months. The virus never wanted to leave me. Because of that horrible bout of the stomach virus, I now dread the day I'd contract it again. That's why I get so intensely panicky and distressed when I have nausea. I'd rather get pneumonia and be hospitalised it instead!

    I have this phobia and I hate it. I feel O can’t love my life because I’m always thinking about.. “your gonna throw up” or “don’t eat that it made you sick last time” i threw up a lot in my life and haven’t worn the same clothes, watched the same shows or do anything I did that day.. these past few days I had a cold and when ever I wake up in the morning I have a stomach ache and one part of my head is like “this always happens your fine..” but then the bigger half is like “YOUR GONNA THROW UP!!” And what makes out worse is that I have anxiety so I often have stomach aches and I am VERY lactose intolerant.. I throw up if I even have dairy :(

    I had this fear when I was younger of choking on my own vomit which I think gave me emetophobia. Is this a thing and if so how could I overcome my fear?

    Where can I get help for my daughter, she has a terrible phobia or fear or anyone vomiting. She is a woman in her twenties has children and a husband. She has been fearful of anyone vomiting since she was young but the situation has worsened and now she goes into a panic state. She even would abandon her child or husband if they were vomiting. She would run a mile. Please where can she get help. 😥

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one that has this! I’m so terrified of throwing up. Of course my main symptom of anxiety is nausea so I’m nauseous after every meal or I think about puking (which is all the time) . Right now the stomach flu is going around and all I can think about it is if I get it I’m so scared. I don’t leave the house without ginger gravol, ginger tea, ginger ale, pepto and ginger candy. I feel crazy. I’ve got prescribed anxiety meds and I was too scared to take them because the first side effect is nausea

    i have has this fear since i was nine and im sixteen now. one time we were in class and everyone started screaming and freaking out. A kid upchucked gross. we all yelled nasty and my heart rate immediately went up like 100 beats per millisecond. i was shaking so bad even my teacher noticed. she got scared so she sent me to the office. my mom came to get me and took me to the doctor. that was the day i got diagnosed with severe/major anxiety. i got perscribed meds and still i have had countless anxiety attacks. i have had 5 in a day once that was awful. mom took me to the er for that one. im so glad i am not the only one who suffers and so sorry if you do too. -Denna <3

    I was sick February last year and for some reason it always worry’s me now it never used to although this year I’m not nearly as bad when I feel sick it will worry me more than anything but here’s some tips I hope help I listen to white noise and relaxing meditation called calm and one called headspace and white noise app .

    I am terrified of throwing up. The name gives me a sick feeling and the sight of it makes me think I’m going to get sick. I woke up today feeling really bad with no appetite and I started to feel like I was going to throw up. I have been popping nauseous pills several times today just Incase something happens. I’m scared to eat or drink. And even if it’s a small stomach ache sometimes I’ll think I’ll throw up and my mom hates it. No matter how I feel she says it’s everyday and I’m not sick. So the fact that I feel horrible today and am now crying and scared not knowing what to do or who to talk to is scary. I tend to look up illnesses I could possibly have and then search symptoms or stages of that illness and one that has been on my mind all day is a stomach virus/flu. Which sucks and people will throw up all day from that and violently which is terrifying. I want to go to the doctor to get checked but I can’t and I’m just scared, hoping I don’t throw up anytime soon and my stomach cramping will go away soon.

    so I worry about getting sick or eating bad food everyday I’m neseous and get stumach pains a lot and every time I panick and think I’ll throw up today I was at the nurses office and this kid came in and was like I threw up now I keep trying to remember if I touched the door knob or if he touched it I can’t keep living like this

    Ive had this fear my whole life.
    From a major case at childhood to minor case now.
    This fear hasn't completely gone away today, however it doesn't limit me like it used to. As a child, it was embarrassing and happened quite often, that fear, those panic attacks, heart beating out of my chest i couldn't even hear the word vomit, puke, or barf and terrified to whiteness or even hear someone vomiting. Pacing back and forth trying everything for the panic to stop. The other kids had quite the laugh at me in school, following made me an easy target for bullying. Only recently discovered this was an actual thing and realized i am far from the only one. This phobia has kept me very limited for more then half of my life. Im 35 now, and im not completely over this phobia but im not limited like i was. Once in a long while ill have a panic moment, but ive learned to talk myself down from it quickly. The words dont bother me at all anymore, nor does whitenessing or hearing someone vomit. I do however avoid people with a stomach bug, i rarely get sick myself. ive panicked more over nothing then i actually vomited. Its not a pleasant thing to do and im definitely not going to force myself to. I cant remember the last time i actually vomited being many years ago, but ive actually thought back and remember eating way too much and being miserable for 2 days because of it, and thought if i actually forced myself to vomit i woulda felt much better sooner. Instantly after getting sick of course i was shaking but remember feeling very relieved. When id get to feeling that way i would just try to focus on something else which wasn't the easiest sometimes it worked and others it wouldn't. When my stomach felt a little funny instead of jumping to.. oh no im going to puke.. to probably just gas or digesting what i ate earlier. I remember panicking more then actually puking so instead of jumping right to full panic mode, id assume its no need for alarm probably just a burp of fart.
    When in full panic mode which happens rarely maybe twice a year, i do pace and talk myself down, ill say things like ok your fine, how many times we been through this and nothing has happened, if you actually do its only gonna make you feel better tomorrow.

    Hi, I'm Ariah and I have Emetophobia. I had it for a long time in my life and I don't get sick that often the last time I had the flu was when I was 7 and am 22 now, I did throw up when I was 15 due to eating some bad popcorn and drink mix but I haven't gotten I'll since. Now I have more stomach problems due to a unknown stomach sickness I've had since I was 11 and it's getting worse as the years go on, the doctors don't have anything for me saying am fine but am not. So now when I try to vomit I just can't cause am so scared too. I rarely go out and when I hear people vomit or just mention it, I go in a very bad panic attack. My sister had food posioning from what she ate and the whole night I was freaking out cause I thought I would get sick too since maybe I ate the same thing but I didn't and I annoy everyone around me with it. Now when I do get sick they don't really care and say am making it worse cause of my fear.

    I am very scared of throwing up to the point where I will eat much less then I should and do not eat any kind of meat or fish for risk of food poisoning. Please help.

    I have it too, and I live in a house of 9, and most of the people here go to work, or school. I normally get a vomiting sickness once or twice a year. And knowing that I get it this often, makes it that much worse. Right now, my cousin, (she's 7) is sick with a vomiting sickness, and i have to watch her for a few hours, and she's sleeping in MY BED. Even though I'm a teen, I have this one stuffed animal that helps make me feel a bit better. Well, IT'S ON MY BED, AND SHE TOUCHED IT. So now, I have to throw it in the wash, and since I'm really scared right now, I really want it. I'm such a child :')

    i definitely have this fear. there is no doubt in my mind that i don't, as it's been apart of me for almost my entire life.
    i have reason to believe it's PTSD-related, too. that sounds silly, i know, but in 2009, during the H1N1 pandemic, i came down with the illness and was incredibly ill for a week or so.
    ever since, i've been incredibly afraid to gag, choke, or throw up. even the idea of being slightly nauseated stresses me out and can even lead me to have an anxiety attack.
    this fear prohibits me from doing so much; eating from restaurants, spending the night away from home, straying too far from a bathroom or garbage can, and even being in the same room as someone who may have been sick within the past few days.
    i'm not sure what type of treatment i should seek. if anyone has any suggestions, i'd greatly appreciate it. getting information from those who experience the same issues would be excellent, as well. thank you for your time.

    I always feel so bad sometimes and I have panic attacks some times hoping to god I don’t get sick but like rn right at this very moment I keep shaking uncontrollably in my bed feeling nauseous on and off it comes and then goes away but this happened to me once as a kid in like 4th grade I got into a small fight with my mom in the morning and I walked into class late and was shaking uncontrollably and then I went to the nurse and she gave me a blanket and I feel asleep and once I woke up I puked and my mom got me and took me home and I stayed home and felt horrible and I feel like that’s why I’m so scared bcs I keep shaking right now and I’m dwelling on the past bcs of it and I’m scared what happened in the past is going to happen again

    I am trying to figure out how to overcome some on my anxiety symptoms.. often times when I have an anxiety issue it feels like something is sitting in my throat and the though if eating or drinking makes me think I will throw up. Socially I cannot eat out some of the time because I will have Thoughts that I will be sick and then that feeling rushes forward. It’s like a trigger effect because I then start to think the what if’s. Please help!

    I’ve been suffering from this phobia for the past 7 years and just 2 years ago the fear got to me and I felt anxious all the time I got anxiety, I would constantly feel anxious when I’m alone .Somedays I would cry and wish this fear was over because I feel as if this fear is consuming my life and I don’t know how to stop it, even doing daily activities makes me anxious...I’m more sad than I am happy.Please help😢

    currently going through the same situation :/ i’ve been feeling sick all day, fever, chills, diarrhea and i feel so nauseous and like i’m going to puke. it’s 12:30am and i have a job interview at 8am tomorrow and i don’t even think i’ll be able to go because i’m so scared i’ll get sick. my boyfriend is sleeping and i’m sitting here shaking and crying. i’ve had this phobia since the first time i can remember getting the stomach flu at age 6. this ruins my life and i can’t ever really go out with friends and do normal things women my age would. no one understands and if you feel similar and want to talk, my snapchat is sara.miw

    Hey, i’m 13 and i have this phobia very serious, once my classmate said he felt like he was going to vomit, after this i was shaking and sweating, eventually i had to ask the teacher if i could stand outside, i’m even scared of the emojis, “🤢🤮”

    I have a HUGE fear when it comes to people throwing up!!!!!! And I mean huge!!!! I always feel like never going to school!!!!!! But I read the bible a lot and that helps! I also see councilers!

    I also shake, sweat, and cry! I hate this feeling a lot! Even if a classmate says I don't feel good I freak out!

    Could someone share their story on how them vom.. actually made them get over the fear?

    I feel like I have the highest form of this. I have a hard time getting out of bed if I’m nauseous because I’m too afraid to throw up. If I feel I’ll I will refrain from speaking because I’m worried if I talk I might throw up. I don’t ever let myself eat until I’m full because when I am full I feel sick and I don’t want to throw up. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t go to amusement parks or fairs. I don’t even eat out at restaurants or go shopping because I don’t want to get sick somewhere too far away from home. If someone doesn’t feel good I leave their presence as fast as possible, and if I feel sick no matter where I am I will go home immediately. I’m so malnourished and underweight that I’m worried I’m no longer healthy. I wish I knew how to fix this so I could live a normal life like everyone else. I just want to be able to go out with my boyfriend to a nice dinner and finish my meal and feel full and satisfied and not worry about vomit.

    Ever since seeing a kid puke on the bus I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it when will I puke? What happens if I do? It’s gotten so bad that whenever my family is sick I’ll stay away from them and I wash my hands like crazy. Even keeps me from going to school afraid someone will get sick. My family thinks I’m crazy and make fun of me for being scared and they don’t realize how much it actually effects me. Reading some of these comments helped me realized I’m not the only one

    I'm okay with a lot of things, but vomit isn't one of them. I can't stand the sight or the urge. My dog just threw up as I'm writing this and I can't clean it up, my arms got so weak they started hurting. I can tolerate the word, just the thought and feeling, or even seeing it makes me anxious.

    I think I have this fear because I was sick a lot as a child and I remember the pain in my chest, not being able to breathe and the tears in my eyes. I think my fear got worse with having the stomach flu 4 years ago. I avoid certain foods and over eating because I can still remember the urge and feeling of needing to vomit. I think I should let my psychiatrist know about this, since it's a cause of my anxiety.

    I have this phobia, too! I'm mostly patrified of catching a stomach bug. It started when I was in school and had a lot of these horrible bugs and other stomach issues. Once I had to throw up on the school bus and then in the class room. Ever since I get internal panick attacks just when someone says "my stomach hurts" or someone's stomach makes weird sounds. When I was in school and knew someone threw up or was at home because of a stomach issue, I pretended to have a horrible headache just so I could stay home and be "safe" and far away from a potential virus. I even avoided people who were ill for several days. I also can't eat certains foods anymore because they are not "safe" in my opinion. I don't even want to have children because the thought of morning sickness makes me sick, and also because children seem to catch stomach bugs all the time.

    As much as it feels good to know there are people out there with the same phobia as me, it makes me sad because I know how consuming this fear actually is. I’ve tried so hard to come to terms with the idea of getting sick or others around me being sick but I just can’t. I’ve found that breathing exercises sometimes help and walking around outside in the cold. But most of the time I feel helpless and like I’m all out of options for coping mechanisms.

    I have always hated being sick and its my second biggest fears orher than heights but tbh i think id rather be high up that feeling sick or being sick but most of the time when i feel sick i am either tired or i just have been exorcising too much at a late time while drinking at the same time as exorcising so normally i just rest my head and take little sips of water but also you may be hungry and therefore feeling sick so you sometimes just have to put all your rggs in one basket and eat something little to see if that was your problem otherwise there is nothing that you can do other that let it out it mat be horrible for like 2-3 mins but after that you will most likely feel better

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