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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 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.

    I completely understand. I have the exact same thoughts! I’m currently sat downstairs at 1am worrying if I’m going to be sick, and I’m only making myself worse because the more anxious I get the more nauseous I feel. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone with this awful phobia. I did spend years in CBT therapy, but recently I feel like it’s all come back again and I have no idea why :/ x

    My anxiety is it’s worst at night because I know this is the most likely time it can happen as the immune system slows down when we are tired. I wake up in the middle of the night constantly evaluating how I feel and if I’m ok. I like in a shared house so I feel like if someone gets ill it’s out of my control and I will catch it. I listen every time someone enters the bathroom and my heart races. It’s so bad and I don’t know what to do.

    this is 2 years late but omg i have the same thing and it’s every night. i’m only 13 and i’ve been struggling since i was 3. i also am scared to sleep in case i wake up nauseous. how old are you

    i am the same exact way as you, i know you don't know me and i know this is crazy but i would really like to talk to some of you guys, i've been dealing with this fear since i was 7 alone and i want someone i can talk to and cope with.

    It doesn’t sound dramatic at all my whole family thinks I’m nuts I’m writing this now as I’m really worried that I’m going to throw up as I have not felt like eating all weekend and I think I will be but I just want my pain to end and want a life back, but there’s one person who always listens, god! He is the person who I know has stopped my vomiting so many times before. I love this community and just want the best I have tried counselling at school and out of school but it hasn’t worked. My mum suggested cbt therapy that apparently switches negative into positive and makes you appreciate things better and I hope I will not throw up tonight or ever I haven’t been sick since may and it was years before the last time, thank you for letting me read your comment it has made me feel much better, thanks

    This happens to me too! Every day-night it will happen. I would recommend seeing a counselor. It has helped me a ton! Sometimes some little things can trigger it and you do not notice. For example, if you are afraid of going to college it can trigger it. If you get worried in the car, bring a bag or a (V) bag. It will get better soon enough! I have not been taking medications and I have been getting better without taking them! We all just have to power through it. I know sometimes it feels like nobody understands and there is no stuff online, but you just have to remember that if it did happen you would be feeling good right after.

    I feel the same way. This fear keeps me from doing many things in my everyday life and it prevents me from doing things that I know I’ll regret not doing. I’m a senior in Highschool and I feel like I’m missing a bunch of my “last’s” with my best friends because of my stupid fear. I’ll skip out on trips that could be so fun and I keep purposely dodging the question of doing a “senior trip” with all my friends. I just want it to go away. I want to he fearless and live my way not under the control of my fear. I’m starting to lose hope and I keep wondering what will happen if I never get over iT. :(

    It's good to know I'm not the only one like this. You have it more extreme but even at this moment I'm trying to avoid someone because they were I'll and I feel so bad but I cant help it. I feel I'll now even though i wont be but I'm glad i read your comment.

    I’m 17. I’ve had this since I was around 9. I’m actually sick right now trying to figure out how to cope with it in some way. I usually go to my mom and just her being there will help me calm down a bit but she usually gets really aggravated and yells Becasue she doesn’t understand what I’m going through. To her it’s just something silly I do to get out of school. I’m so embarrassed that I have this. If I feel even the slightest bit upset to my stomach I start to freak out Becasue I fear I’m going to throw up. I pray to god saying please fix this. Please don’t make me throw up. I hate that I have this. I tell my self I’m not going to be sick but then my stress gets really high Becasue I think I’m going to get sick. I just want this to stop. I don’t like it. I’m 17. I want to be able to go and hang out with my friends and not fear that I’m going to get sick if I eat that or something. I usually find comfort if I’m with my mom or my grandma. But I can’t always be with them. I wish there was some medicine or something that would help me not be scared of this.

    I know how you feel, I have emetophobia and my younger brother spent the whole day tossing his cookies today. He even passed out. I'm terrified, but trust me, the suspense is worse than the actual feeling. Remember that. I'm sorry you are sick, but if you do throw up, you will get rid of the virus quicker. Also, the first and second time you throw up probably feel the worst. Most of the time after that, it's just dry-heaving. You aren't alone, if you feel really sick, go to your bed and (with a bucket if you want) relax. Read a good book or scroll through your phone. If you feel truly bad, try a heating pad. Hope this helps, sorry that your sick, hope you feel better :)

    I don’t want to get over it. I just never want to be nauseous and barf again, EVER! I HATE HATE HATE IT ALL! And I am so scared of getting norovirus note than anything.

    I have a terrible fear of watching people vomit and my four year old son current has a stomach bug. I never new how trying dibilitating this fear is. I have such a fear of the act of vomiting more so the the actual action of vomiting. I’ve never been so nervous in my life 😢. I feel like a horrible mom bc I’m so scared and watching his every move

    I have a massive fear of sick. When someone feels sick I have to leave the classroom and get a panic attack. Even at home I feel terrified. I can’t sleep as I dream about sick and that makes me wake up with a panic attack. I can’t stand the feeling of being ill and when I have been sick I won’t eat for 3 weeks, maybe even 4. As I am 12 I go on school trips which scares me because of the amount of people with travel sickness. I can’t go on planes or any kind of transport without fearing that someone else will be sick. Even if someone comes into a classroom with a buck for water. I think someone feels ill and it gets me in a panic attack. If anyone could help my instagram is heyitzshibs.

    I have the same issue. But mine when i think that im going to throw up the fear I have is scary. I had this feeling yesterday and it stuck around me for an hour. My body tempeture goes crazy I get sweaty hot then I get ice cold. I start to act strange whenever I hear the word food I get more worried. I tell my Dad about it then I start crying and sometimes I actually do throw up and i just can"t get over it

    I am 16 years old and I have been batteling with my phobia for over 5 years due to unfortunate experiences with vomiting and people around me getting sick, my fear is so strong I avoind people, I barely leave home, I miss alot of school, I cant sleep, and Im scared of eating. The reason why im scared to eat is because Im worried that the food will make me vomit. I go to therapy once a week and I visit my psychiatrist once a month. Tho I get professional help, Im still very much struggeling non stop. Im stressed and woried and I dont know how to get trough a day without having a panic attack over my fear of getting sick. I feel like no one understands what Im going trough and how painful it is.

    Hi im only 12 years old and when I was abaut 7 years i started to freak out when my litle brother vomited in the car.(he get sick after being in the car) And i remember very clearly one time he vomited behind me in the car an i was petrified because it smelled horrible and it was my mom got enoyed and said here and gave me a paper with vomit on it and i whas having a hard time breating normally and my mom said stop being a drama queen. I was altso freaking out because it was like 3 hours left and I couldn't stand the smell of vomit. But i altso remember when i was abaut 9 years old i vomited and it felt great to get it out of me. Right now i have ate too much and i feel like vomiting but i just can't can i get some help please🙏🏻

    I have the exact same phobia I shake and shake all night and I get so scared. I really want to overcome this fear. When my mum was sick last night I was shaking and so scared bc I don’t want to catch it I hate getting sick. Please help me I’m only a teenager. I have really bad anxiety, why am I so scared

    I’ve been feeling sick for a week all I have eat is nannas and dry toast I csnt get the thought out of my head when I feel like I’m going too vomit I run about and drink loads of water I’m scared too eat incase I vomit

    I have the same issue. It use to only be if I was out at a restaurant or eating publically that I would struggle with this but just in the last two months it has transpired into all the time and it has really interfered with my health. I’ve lost weight because of it and while I am doing a little better-it’s still a struggle. I’d love to connect with you or anyone else on this thread! Please find me via Instagram - miss.laura.leigh or Twitter @misslauraleigh

    Hi, I'm so sorry to hear that. I'm 15 and I have the same fear. I never really used to get it, until last year when I got sick with a horrible stomach virus and kept "you know" I hate the word. Anyway, ever since then, have been terrified of getting sick and then when a thought like that crosses my mind I start to feel a little bit sick and then I panicked and get anxious because I feel a little bit sick and the cycle continues. I'm actually feeling like this at the moment. I was fine earlier this morning and then all of a sudden I started feeling sick. I just want the feeling to pass.

    Hi, I'm 16 and have servere vomit phobia. I started to feel sick every day 10 months ago, but have always had the phobia. I always avoid social situations and even sleep with a bucket by my bed in case I am sick through the night. I feel sick everyday, not just an upset stomache but like I may be sick. This phobia has messed my life up as I had to do exams with it and I probably failed because of it, it has made my friendships more complicated and my family don't really understand.
    My mum wants me to get a job and I've told her how much I struggle to go from day to day life but she doesn't understand. I wish this phobia would just go away, doctors have done so many tests but nothing has come back as an illness. I do have CBT which helps a bit but not a lot, mum believes I am throwing my life away but it's not me it's my anxiety and my phobia!

    I understand EXACTLY how you feel. I Had a very bad stomach bug last year and ever since I have been so scared that it will happen to me again so I'm always on guard, I even avoid social situations that involve people being close together like discos just in case someone has a stomach bug but hasn't started showing symptoms yet.
    I fear nighttime so much because that's when I got my bug and whenever I wake up at a similar time I start to shake and sweat and panic like mad. I also sleep with a basin sitting at the end of my bed and no matter where I am, the first thing I always do is check if there's anywhere I could get sick (bucket, plant pot etc.) Just in case I need to.
    Its a really bad phobia and I have tried everything to get rid of it or at least ease it but its still there ? Its really taking over my life

    Omg! This is exactly how I am too! It makes me feel so much better that I'm not the only one! My fear literally started when I was 8 and had the stomach flu in the middle of the night. I'm 35 now!

    I'm 18. In my whole life the only time I remember vomiting is last year in 2017. I threw up in the day in January and it wasn't bad and I got bad food poisoning (I think) in june and that was the worst experience of my life. Ever since then (more than a year ago) I haven't been able to sleep without a tv or my computer on a movie or a series to distract myself so I usually only go to sleep in the early hours of the morning. Yesterday I threw up again , my doctor said that I might have gastro. Whenever I think there's something wrong with me , I google symptoms and check how to treat and insist on going to the doctor. No one really understands my fear, when I feel nauseous I shake uncontrollably and can't stop thinking about it. I hate being alone when I've been feeling nauseous, I get very depressed. I avoid places and foods which I don't trust and also all fizzy cooldrinks. I haven't been myself lately and there is not one day that goes by that I don't think about my phobia.

    Hey um my name is Janette I'm 18 also and I literally left so dumb googleing this type of thing because I think is so stupid how I can be afraid of throwing up. But I know exactly how you feel and I think it's ruining my life also. Anyways, do you have an Ig? I really want to talk to someone about this who actually understands. It'd make me feel like I'm not alone on this.

    Hello!

    September 30, 2017

    In reply to by Janette

    I have the exact same thing!! And it would be awesome to talk and actually have someone who understands what's going on.. My mom was supportive of me in the beginning when I had to take the subway, but now she's getting annoyed that she has to talk to me every single morning and afternoon when I'm on my way to school. It has quite literally taken up my life and I've missed so much school and so many social gatherings just because of this.. What's your instagram so I can add you?

    It's so nice knowing I'm not alone even though I wish none of us had this fear. I have anxiety always which makes my stomach upset which makes me even more anxious because I think I'm going to throw up. I avoid anyone with a stomach bug or nausea and have to disinfect everything if I think they've had it . If you need someone to talk to my Instagram is todye407

    Hey my name is Ashlin (I’m 17) and I have this also and I think it would be great to discuss this with someone as I don’t know anyone in person who shares the same anxiety. My instagram is Ashlin.macintyre if you’d like to talk about it :)

    Kate Usher

    November 20, 2017

    In reply to by Janette

    Hey, I've been experiencing the exact same thing for a couple of months now, my ig is k_usher18, IT would be nice to talk to someone who understands :)

    This issue is such a trouble, I’ve been dealing with this gastritis/acid reflux problem for 3 years now & I can’t seem to find a cure. I don’t want to take the medicine because of the side effects along the way. I now have some issue where two hours later after eating I get this pressure on my upper abdomen & the need to throw up, but I won’t do it, I have this phobia. Trust me, you are not alone. This is just affecting my personal life all over. Idk what to do at this point.

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