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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.

 

    I have this phobia n it causes me all these symptoms on a daily basis. This phobia was taking over my life so i turned to professional help n ended up in the mental hospital. While i was there i did millions of exposures related to vomit.

    I have this exact issue . always scared to go places, be in a space with people all around me. I always have to find out where the nearest bathroom is and I plan out what i'd do in my head if I had to throw up. it's really annoying and sometimes I just have to force myself out of the comfort zone to where I don't have access to the nearest bathroom ect. cuz rlly like if u throw up u throw up there's nothing u can do about it and everyone's been in the situation.

    It's nice to hear that I am not alone with this. I sometimes won't eat because I am afraid I will get sick. I've lost weight because of it. Sometimes I would go for months not really eating much or refusing to eat at certain times of the day.

    This is literally the exact same as me. Every night for the past two years I have this fear before I go to sleep to the point where I could cry. I know it’s completly irrational but I just fear having a sickness bug to the point where I don’t know what I am going to do for the rest of my life because I can’t go in living with this fear

    i have the same issue. i just wanna live my life as a regular teenager. sometimes if i have a little stomach ache i’ll stay up all night doing everything i can to get it to go away. it’s bad, my phobia is very bad. i’m glad we can relate :). hope everything gets better with you :)

    I’m the same way! I have had this phobia of puke for as long as I can remember.. I’m 22 years old now and if someone coughs around me I’m running away into another room in fear they might throw up.. if someone is puking and they are in the same place I am I’m turned away or in another room plugging my ears making loud noises so I can’t hear them puking...it has gotten a lot better sense I got older but when I was younger I would stay awake every night thinking I might puke and cry to my mom multiple times a night to help me feel better bc my anxiety would be so bad about it that I eventually would make myself feel nausea just thinking about me throwing up.

    I honestly feel the exact same way it’s actually pushing all the important people in my life away... I wanna change I wanna be able to live my life but I can’t go anywhere without feeling like I’m gonna get sick and then I panick... I can’t sleep anywhere unless there’s an empty trash can beside me and I’m knocked up on melatonin... I have been fired from calling in so often and it’s tearing my family apart...

    I have this phobia honestly so bad, I’ll stay awake just because I think I’m gonna puke when most of the time it’s in my head , I just wish I could change this about me I feel like everyone thinks I’m a baby I get to the point I cry and skate uncontrollably and ir sucks ignore I even think about puking I get nauseous I would like someone to talk to about this stuff someone who has this phobia in common

    I don’t know if you’ll ever read this but I hope your better. I have the same issue. And I hate it so much words can’t describe how much I hate it. What helps me is watching funny YouTube videos (particularly daz watches), smelling lavender, and lying down. And if you have a sister or brother venting might help. P.s i really hope your better because I know how horrible it is:)

    This is the comment that I have relayed the most to. This fear I have, has severely become worse since I got a job at a daycare...where the stomach bug is inevitable every winter season. I am writing back to you in an anxious state, because, even though I was not physically at the center when the stomach bug was exposed yesterday, I still live in fear that I have it. This phobia has truly impacted my life deeply. It has hindered how far I can go away from home, and has made me extremely dependent on people who have helped me through a bout of sickness. I fear I will never be able to truly grow up and venture out into the world on my own due to this phobia. I wish there was a simple fix.

    I totally get where you are coming from. I can count on one hand the times I was actually sick and throwing up. I have my weeks that are just awesome and I don’t think about it but then I have days just like what you are talking about. I used to not feel this way and the sad thing is I am now 35 years old and it scares me to death. When I can’t get out of the house like in the winter it really gets to me.
    It’s nice to hear that there are other people who are going through the same thing and have ideas or even ways in copping with this fear that sounds small to a lot of people but to us it impacts us greatly.
    I am no therapist but if anyone would like to chat when they are having this problem please feel free to email me a Patrick.massey7@gmail.com.

    I totally get where you are coming from. I can count on one hand the times I was actually sick and throwing up. I have my weeks that are just awesome and I don’t think about it but then I have days just like what you are talking about. I used to not feel this way and the sad thing is I am now 35 years old and it scares me to death. When I can’t get out of the house like in the winter it really gets to me.
    It’s nice to hear that there are other people who are going through the same thing and have ideas or even ways in copping with this fear that sounds small to a lot of people but to us it impacts us greatly.
    I am no therapist but if anyone would like to chat when they are having this problem please feel free to email me a Patrick.massey7@gmail.com.

    This vomiting fear is taking over my life I’m so scared to eat and when anyone has a bug around me or my family members get one in the house I have to leave I can’t deal with it,I’ve felt like for a long time I was just being silly an thought it weren’t a real phobia til I looked online it’s a really horrible thing to deal with I sit up all night shaking nausea making myself feel like I’m going to vomit.There isn’t a day we’re I don’t feel sick An I know it’s playing on my mind making me,I freak out when I’m up alone An I even get a stomach cramp incase I’m going to throw up and I feel like everyone thinks I’m being so dramatic.

    I'm feeling the same . I can't go to college or out with friends. it's ruining my life .I over think of an upcoming event and feel sick . I feel anxious all the time . I'm so afraid of this emetophobia. It limits my life in my room alone . I can't even eat something . It gets worse in college . I hope we all get well soon.

    I also have this problem majorly. I have to take prescribed medication because it’s so bad and I still have anxiety attacks almost everyday about it. I’m having one rn that’s why I came to read this. It’s 11:30 on a school night and I can’t sleep bc I’m the most nauseous and it’s keeping me awake. I can’t do some everyday things because it literally takes over my life. I think into the future sometimes that I will probably never drink because I’m terrified of drinking too much and throwing up.

    I completely understand where you are coming from. Hearing the word or the sound of vomit to me is like someone holding a gun to my head. The fear is extreme and I’m sure it came from my childhood. I’ve saw many ppl throw up and I think over time I’ve developed an intolerance. This fear preventing me from having kids and being around kids. at 26 I had a kid. During my pregnancy I vomited 2x due to a bug and food poinsening. Now my daughter is 3 and I worry she will throw up soon. It’s like it gets better with time but the anxiety of it happening is daily. I really hope I am able to help her when she gets sick. My normal first instinct is to run. ??

    If someone in class feels sick I get really upset and nervous and I don’t go out much with friends and I don’t eat stuff that could possibly make u ill , I’m only 13 it’s really hard absolutely ruining my life ;(

    this is not dramatic i fear of this every single day.i can do colds fevers ANYTHING as long as im not throwing up,and when i do throw up because ether i have a hangover or usally when i get sick its the stomach flu. i just cry im still young not in college just yet but, whenever im sick my mom will take me to get IV's and they make me feel so much better. this one time i had to make myself throw up because i was so hungover and thought maybe if i just threw up the feeling would go away and thankfully it did but the experience was terrifiying.

    I do feel bad whenever one of my friends get sick .
    But there's nothing I can do about it .Sometimes they ask me to hold up their hair ,but I say "no no no no I can't " with tears rolling down my face.
    The other day at school two of the people sitting right next to me were vomiting and I asked the teacher if i could move to a different seat for today because I was crying at the thought of them vomiting one more time.The teacher just giggled and said "Get over yourself its only a bit of vomit, you don't need to over react!"

    I feel your pain. This phobia has ruined many of my days as well. But to you and all of you reading this, please don’t make yourselves think you’re crazy. You’re not alone. We’re all here talking about the same thing! We’re all going to be alright.

    I most definitely have this phobia and have had it for years starting in high school. It affects me when I go to sleep, making me worried I will get sick at night, when I’m out with friends or family just doing something as simple as going out to eat, it makes me anxious to go on long trips or plane rides. Everywhere I go my first move is to locate a bathroom just Incase I have to get sick, and along with that not eating a lot of food and being hesitant trying somewhere new or being in a new area. Everything I do is affected by my anxiety to throw up, but sometimes reading that other people have this fear helps.

    As i were reading you’re comment all I thought is this is so like me it’s crazy, I’m also a teenager I’ve just turned 15 recently and have benn suffering with this for nearly 4 years now it’s horrible I stopped going school completely for 3 years because this fear led to me having acrophobia and I would not leave the house at all. Now I have home schooling so atleast I’m getting my education but would love to just go school again as it’s such a special thing which I didn’t realise until I couldn’t make myself go anymore I can now leave the house but will only stay around my area where I can see my home it’s not as far as I’d like to go as I want to go out with friends meet new people and go out with family on holidays\days out but it’s a step forward atleast x

    I’m about to start college in August and I’m ready to go except I’m terrified of being sick. I carry around nausea medication like it’s my life vest and I’m not enjoying my life to the fullest due to the fact that I’m scared certain things will make me sick. I went to a therapist for a while but she seemed to think that my fear was due to some previous trauma, so what she was doing didn’t help me. I’d really like to know what some people are doing to get rid of this fear.

    I am exactly like you, it ruins every day of life and at night I'm always shaking too and so anxious. I missed a 3 day camp because of this and I used to love camps but I'm so scared because the last time "it" happened it was on vacation. I try to distract myself but then I remember, and I remember exactly how it felt when "it" happened and I'm really afraid. But what makes me feel better is talking to a loved for support and having fun, you may remember "it" while talking or having fun but just say to yourself: I'm going to be okay, I'm going to be okay. I never knew somebody else had this fear but even worse. I am happy to know someone feels how I feel. Hope this helps to all of you people that have emetophobia: Stay strong! You will be okay!

    Hi, it’s scary how much I feel the same. I get the exact same thoughts as you do. Times when I have had a stomach bug before I fear that will happen again and it is so bad it does get me into some bad states, I’ve over come this before I used to have it when I was younger for years but I went for the therapy but took me 3 years to get over it. I had a time in my life when I did not have the slightest bit of anxiety and I was a different person but then I did get ill and ever since then it’s been my biggest fear again and stops me from eating and everything. I still go out with my friends but when I’m out I will more than likely have a panic attack. But it does take time and I know that if I got over it then I can do it again but god it is killing me. I feel like shit.

    Hey hun i have just read wot u put and I'm 100% the same..I wake every night and think I'm gonna b sick but I'm not... I know u wrote ur story a couple of years ago but would like to know if u have found a cure... I'm on Facebook Laura yates if u could message me... I can't cope any more ? xx

    I feel the exact same. When im out in public i always scan the room for the nearest trashcan. Its sad because i have had this fear forever but i just got worse in the past year or so. I dont know how to help myself, im 18 years old about to go to college and i havent even gotten sick since i was 7 years old. I think not remembering anything besides my traumatic memories makes it worse.

    I understand u completely I really do. I just tell myslef that everything’s gonna be ok I breathe and say to myself that if I do get sick it’s ok because it only happens for a day or two then it’s over and I’ll live

    I can relate completely to your experience. I have had this phobia for about 2 years now. It used to be that if someone mentioned the word I would panic. You would be surprised how many people have this phobia on many different scales so personally it is not stupid and don’t feel like it is because so many people don’t emphasise as the simply don’t understand :)

    I have just come across all the posts about fear of being sick. I have also suffered with this for many years. My fear also is more prevalent at night. It stems from hearing my father being sick at night many years ago I was about fourteen and although he was absolutely fine he made a lot of noise!!! Which scared me to death. I did have some hypnosis some years later which took me back to this situation which did really help me feel like I could go to bed without worrying so much. From one sufferer to another hypnosis and self exposure to situations around food travel social situations etc is the only answer which takes courage but it will release its grip on your life. . Avoidance of any thing in your life won't help get rid of it. Next year I have been invited on a cruise with my family a sure way of inducing my fears but I'm going to do it!!! Plan to expose myself to short boat trips locally beforehand so I can experience managing my anxieties before the trip. I hope my story helps you as you are not alone in this.

    Basically I feel the same way and my mum and stuff say and don’t I literally cry, freak out and even worse goggle stuff! I feel the a slight bit sick and start crying and shouting and completly understand and it’s worse when you family don’t get it!

    It doesnt sound dramatic at all ... I'm the exact same way ... I just finished eating a huge meal and now I'm freaking out and it's made me feel sick ... my fear of the stomach flu is so bad that I cant live alone with my kids incase they get sick ... its completely ruined my life ... i barely eat and when i got i eat so much that it makes me feel sick to my stomach ... I dont have a moral to this story ... just wanted to let you know your not alone .. I'm 25 and this phobia has taken over my life

    I have the exact same thing. It’s exhausting. It is taking over my life and I don’t know what to do anymore. Does anyone have any remedies for this? I live off nausea tablets and ginger tea and I carry it everywhere I go.

    Okay your emetophobia is this bad you should probably get counseling ,but if you don't there some self helps websites you can visit. But first I would suggest finding the cause of your emetophobia .If you take an emetophobia severity scale you will see there three sections .Social anxiety,Avoidance behaviors and anxiety over being sick.So for example if you emetophobia is hinged on social anxiety then tell yourself that people won't be disgusted angry or mean to you if get sick .A few tips I use for my emetophobia is when I go to bed I don't want to sleep because I might become sick overnight .So I tell myself ,that assuming I would get sick ,not sleeping wouldn't change anything .Also remember that the people who get emetophobia generally have only gotten sick like once or twice in their life where as the people who don't have emetophobia can't even remember when how many times they have gotten sick and don't worry about it.But the point is that you are a "throw uppy" person who easily gets sick .You rarely get sick if at all .I guess that's all but I hoped that was helpful.

    Im only 11, And this extreme phobia is controlling my life and I wish it will go away, I’ve had it for around a year and i hate it so much,I told my mom but she doesn’t understand how extreme it is, I cry everyday because of it, I never want to leave the house or go to a friends house, If someone feels sick in school I want to run out of the classroom but I’m a very shy person and I wouldn’t dare to ask to leave,This phobia is taking over my life so if anyone has any tips I'd really appreciate them!! ?

    Okay I don't know if it is just me but when I get anxious ,I also get nauseous .If this does happen to you,the best tip I have ever heard is that when you can't tell whether your nauseous or anxious to ask yourself "If I would win a million dollars by answering truthfully would I say I was sick or just anxious ?" .Now that is kind of unrealistic so I suggest substituting your own "million dollars".Another way is distracting yourself with something like a book,phone,music anything and if you still feel sick while this is happening then you might be sick.
    Also this fear is real and it is serious ,don't let people tell you otherwise.There is no cure for those horrible situations where someone is sick and you are trapped .But just remember you can't get sick by breathing ,you have to actually eat the germ .So although you feel like trapped and scared ,you will be fine if you just wash your hands before you eat .I really hope this was helpful.

    I’m also a teenager and everything you said is exactly everything I think/ feel. Like everything and the only wish I have is for it to go away because I can’t do anything now without worrying about myself throwing up everywhere I go. Thank you for sharing that so I know I am not alone. I got ocd from this because if I don’t do something the same or if something is different I’m suddenly like “what if I throw up because of this” and I know how you feel it really sucks.

    I know this is almost two years later, but I am the exact same way. My Emetophobia came into the picture just 5 months ago and it is BAD. And the reason I’m posting this comment is because my boyfriend just got sick in front of me and it scared the living daylights out of me. I was shaking, heart pounding, crying.

    I used to be totally fine as a kid. I mean, I didn’t like seeing or hearing people get sick, but I think everyone is that way. But now, I do not like even thinking of it. It makes my stomach hurt and then I’m afraid that I, myself, am going to get sick. I can only refer to it as “getting sick”, I can’t hear or say anything else or I freak out again.

    I’ve resorted to peppermint oil, CBD rubs, anything that provides that cooling, freezing feeling to my skin. I even use BioFreeze sometimes and it turns my skin green, but as long as it works I don’t care. I can’t eat all the way up to a full stomach, I don’t like going out of the house for long periods of time, I don’t like being in the car (pretty much ever), I can’t leave the house without mint gum, water, and/or peppermint oil. It’s literally consuming me. I have a therapy appointment this week to try and get some professional help and hopefully it will work. I really want to get back to my normal self again.

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