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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:

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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.

 

    Cristina Imparato

    August 2, 2019

    In reply to by Alyssa staten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I’ve had this fear of throwing up since I was about 5 years old. I threw up a medicine I took and never took that medicine again til this day, and even the word “vomit” traumatizes me. I hadn’t thrown up from the age of 5 up until last year when I had a stomach virus and was throwing up for a whole day straight. Every time I had to vomit I would go into a complete panic, having a full on anxiety attack before I actually threw up. Essentially, I felt better after I threw up, but every time scared me. I haven’t thrown up since but I still can’t seem to break and get over this annoying fear.

    Hi, I am 21 years of age and have been dealing with this phobia, along with some other mental illnesses since I was 8. In my experience, sometimes it gets better and you don't even think about it for months or even a whole year. Then life gets tougher and somehow this phobia sneaks back into your life unexpectedly. I do have a therapist but am too embarrassed to discuss the matter. My advice is if you feel nauseous or scared or uneasy, keep telling yourself its not real. Although it is so so challenging, I have found that a combination of telling myself it's not real, repeating a mantra, and deep breathing not only sets me back to the right state of mind but also makes me realize everything is okay. If you need help coping with the nausea, I suggest crackers, ginger tea, meditation or even mint gum. Not many people understand this phobia, I don't even understand it that well sometimes. Just know that you are safe and everything's going to be okay.

    Hey,
    I’m 21 and have this problem, when I was younger I had it but I got better threw therapy, I didn’t have it for next 10 years then January this year a little boy was sick in front of our table in the restaurant. Since then I have just got worse and worse. I want to leave my job I hate going out I have cut out foods I don’t think are “safe” I no longer eat meat in case it makes me sick. it rules my whole life I can’t do anything I used to go out and have fun and now I won’t leave the house and only feel safe when I’m walking or at my own house. I am having therapy again for it but I don’t know if it is helping. I am the worst I have ever been! I just want to feel better... I just feel nauseas and chest pains and stomach ache every day.
    Please someone help me I don’t want to ruin my relationship with boyfriend over this as I know there is only so much he can take.

    My fear started from when I was 11 I am now 19 - I would check food was cooked,check sell by dates, wash my hands, panic when I felt sick, stopped eating but the past three years of my life I’ve been good it comes and goes but I learn how to control it But when I was a kid I would avoid doing things like drinking alcohol or eating the food that made me last sick avoiding sick people and like many of you I haven’t thrown up in years but now I’m 19 and I got triggered and my therapist believes it’s because of my emetaphobia and the fact that when I was a kid no one believed me or took it seriously I suggest that you get the help now hit it on the head don’t just avoid doing things push yourself to do things or your body will think that the things you avoid are a danger and puts you in a vicious cycle of panic and anxiety this is like being scared of spiders and I was so happy to see that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way you have to force yourself to eat force yourself to go out and do things and expose yourself to your fear do not run away from it DO NOT AVOID the one thing my therapist told me I should be gettting CBT therapy soon but get the help now fight it because I’m fighting it too and I don’t want this to get the better of me , you can do it you just gotta find that strength, for me it has got better I did it on my own but I highly suggest you get professional help to help highlight what activities trigger your fear and expose your mind to them so you can change your behaviour towards it

    I once remember I was so scared about seeing someone being sick or hearing it and used to run away from every situation that included someone feeling sick or being sick. I overcame the fear once I started going out in clubs and seeing people being sick and so happy about it ! I saw my brother being sick once at home and 5 min later he was playing video games and was chilling . My ex gave me the stomach flu 3 years ago and was sick for the whole night but we played board games and watched movies ..... not as bad as it seems trust me what it looks is not what you get

    No, and I probably never will. I’ve suffered from anexity but I didn’t know it would go this far. I’m not really afraid of others puking but the sound that everyone makes just makes me sick and the smell of it. At night when I start having these panic attacks I try to calm my self down becuase I know I wouldn’t make the situation better by thinking I’m about to puke. I try to calm my self down by sitting straight up and try to think about good things even tho it’s like impossible, and my heart also starts racing. I don’t really have any problems with eating but after I’ve eaten I starting to have a panic attack and thinking “ what if I puke right know?” As soon as I get that feeling I just leave the table straight away and get out to get some fresh air and drink some water, it calms me down but at night time it’s like a living hell, never have I ever though I would be afraid to fall asleep.

    hi. from experience of throwing up first hand and witnessing one of my best friends throw up in his hands in front of me surprisingly has made it a little easier to understand. although the anxiety i get from the fear of vomit can sometimes be unbearable it does and it will get better.

    I've been dealing with ongoing nausea for over a month now. I'm not sure whats wrong with me. I'm hoping the doctors figure it out, because I have this phobia so strongly and have since I was a child. I can barely eat I can barely function. My stomach is killing me most of the day and it seems like I'm just living off if zofran right now...im so miserable and my fiance doesn't understand this phobia or why I start panicking because of it...its just pure misery and I feel so helpless especially since I'm a mom of 2...i can't handle hearing my fiance puke, it even bothers me when my children do it...i feel like such a horrible mom and fiance ?

    I am exactly the same. I have two young children and I get cared everyday incase they get sick or even worse..I do. I’m 34 and this has been going on my whole life but is getting worse. I’m actually going to seek help on Tuesday so fingers crossed it helps.

    I have always been a bit scared of vomit and feeling sick, but it was about five years ago when i did actually vomited and have been terrified ever since. I always would feel sick and was scarred to go anywhere. I am 15 now and have gotten better but am scared to start work or go to school or even just to a friends house. I worried most nights that i will wake up during the night and feel sick because i had do that before. Reading these comments i have all the same problems. I find if hard to talk to any one that doesn't have this phobia because all they tell you is that you just have to get over it and you will be find or something like that , but when you have that phobia it just not that easy.

    I just wanted to say please please speak to someone who can help you. I so wish I had when I was your age. I'm 31 now and I struggle so much now that my own children are bringing illness home from school with them. I feel like I have suffered with emetaphobia my whole life, but in reality I think it started when I was in my teens. I won't moan too much because you already know how controlling this awful phobia is, but please, fight it now so you can start to live the rest of your life without its hold over you x

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