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.


    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 !!

    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.

    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

    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,