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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: Your Guide to Overcoming Panic, Worry, Compulsions and Fear, A Step-by-Step Self-help Audio Program, Break Free from Anxiety, a coloring, self-help book for anxiety sufferers, and the Emetophobia Manual, for those who suffer with the fear of vomit.  Ken Goodman is an ADAA board member and Clinical Fellow. Visit Ken's 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 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.

    I know how you feel, every minute you worry and day if you'll feel sick :(. I've had this since I was in the third grade and have feared my abnormal behavioral fear. I want to tell everyone who sees this that its hard , it's hard to open up to someone whom doesn't understand your pain. Embrassment , shame, depression and anxiety . It's difficult to open up bc you'll feel judged or be made fun of . Ik that feeling no one in my family or friend group know and it's hard , I want to cry bc I'm alone and I just want to relate with someone worth out being judged. My bestfriend mentioned that "getting sick " is easy idk why ppl fear it. I do , bc it's lack of control and I've been sick all my life and now I've had sezuires, respiratory infections chest infections ear infections, stomach viruses through my idle school year , and etc. But I know I'm not alone and you guys aren't either , but don't let this fear stop you from creating a family , having kids, getting drunk, or having fun bc we live once and we can't live in fear seek help

    Thanks if you want help or someone to talk to here's my Instagram duh.657

    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.

    your story is very similar to mine. The fear prevents me from going out with friends, going to the mall, going to school and even work. Most times when i get super anxious about possibly throwing up is when i feel stomach pain, see someone look unwell ( pale in the face n such) hearing someone talk about their stomach hurting, and half of the time its caused just by the thought of " what if i throw up" or "what if my stomach starts hurting". It is such a hard thing to deal with honestly but iv'e learned some coping skills for when i get anxious , such as...
    - focusing on breathing ; breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 4 and breathe out for 5
    do this as many times as you need
    - also the acronym REST: R- relax ( i use my breathing technique^) E- evaluate ( I state over n over whats going on in the world around me and how im feeling ex.- " I am driving home on the highway , i'm anxious because my stomach hurts. I am driving home on the highway, i'm anxious because my stomach hurts.") S- set an intention ( with this step I state out loud over n over how i want to feel ex.- "I want to feel relaxed and calm. I want to feel relaxed and calm.) T- take action ( taking action is basically what you will have been doing while using these steps, you've relaxed yourself(R) , you've realized that anxiety is trying to take over(E), you've decided how you want to feel and are starting to feel that way (S)

    I hope this helped someone :) this is what works for me

    I am exactly the same as this, being a teenager myself i feel like i should be able to go out and live life to the fullest, but just like you i stop myself because of my phobia i have become so isolated as a person because of my phobia that ive ended up cutting friends and family off and just staying in my room most of the time because im so upset thats its taken over my life, the last holiday i went on i was petrified when my boyfriend ate food that i thought would make him ill incase i had to see him/deal with him being ill!

    Omg I’ve never related to something so much! My parents think I’m craxy that I’m so obsessed with not throwing up. It’s literally the worst thing and when I feel sick it’s like the anxiety starts and never stops. I’m 18 as well and have never drank any alcohol because I’m afraid of getting a hangover and throwing up! So glad I’m not the only one

    I relate! I'm a teen that has this phobia and I get thoughts like that all the time. i have really bad anxiety for vomiting, and i have a stomach problem, so it triggers my anxiety and nausea. its horrible! i hate going to school, because im afraid ill vomit in class and be embarrassed!

    ive had this fear for a while now and ive managed to overcome it by doing everything to make myself sick and then i ound out its is not that bad and trust me it is litterally not the end of the world.just try to not think about it and if you do throw up just move on because its nothing to dwell on . let me know if this helped :]

    i feel the same way! i am always anxious that i will throw up in the middle of the night or during the day and when i feel nauseous i go into a panic. i know that the nausea is caused from fear, but i can't seem to let it go. all i want is for my dear to leave me alone

    I have the exact same thing right now... I have had this fobia since a child now I’m 17 I barfed a month ago the act itself wasnt that bad but the feeling I had before it... it was like a major panic attack. Now I get those very often and for a month I havent eaten well... Like some bread and a banana, if even that... I get panic attacks to almost every situation now. I would do anything to get my mind back to normal :(

    I totally understand. Thank you so much for sharing it makes me feel a lot better about my problems I’m dealing with everyday. I’m a teenager and I have the same issues as you but I have to be at class all day. My anxiety has shot through the roof with this phobia

    Thank you so much for sharing. I related to all the comments on here but I think I relate mostly to yours and it is very relieving to know there are others like me. I am closely approaching my thirties and ever since I was a teenager, I've been absolutely paralyzed with fear of vomiting. I believe it stems from my anxiety disorder and ocd. I had a panic attack once while suffering a stomach bug and I think I now associate vomiting with severe panic. And I've never really been able to overcome it. I get such bad attacks, even if I just feel a twinge of nausea (and 99 percent of the time, it's in my own head.) My attacks include: shaking, crying, excessive sweating, severe nausea, stomach cramps, extreme fatigue, mind racing, super high heart rate and more. Sometimes I can barely even talk and my attacks can last 15 minutes to hours. I keep trying all the time to overcome my fear and it's one of the most difficult things I've ever worked towards. Thank you again for sharing. Knowing you're not alone in your fears is comforting.

    I am in highschool at the moment and everything you said Is exactly the same for me. I had a stomach bug after eating at this pizza place ad ever since I have had severe anxiety attacks and worry whenever faced with eve the slightest feeling of sickness. I only ever seem to get it at night as I am the least distracted and just left to my thoughts. luckily for me, I have my parents tot support me a majority of the time when I get like this and they normally talk me out of it and say its in my head. seeing them so calm immediately calms me down.nice to know im not the only affected this severely by this fear.

    I can't drink I see all my friend drinking and I can't drink because the fear of been sick gets the best of me. I still does to this day even if I feel sick I freak out most times wish I was normal I've lost sleep I literally have to wait for the trembling to drain all of my energy to sleep and everyone is sleep during my episodes of this fear so I don't have no one to help i do try and take my mind of it but nothing helps I couldn't even set foot in a plane because I had full on panic attack because what happens if I need to be sick no way off. It happens to me at most nights too I'm awake shaking and I just don't want to do it anymore they have been time I've tried to commit suicide people don't see how it effects me now I no it effects other people I'm 16 and I've have this fear since I was 7 till then I was fine so I don't no what happened to me

    Hi! I have this same problem. I have been feeling so defeated because it is summer right now and the heat of the day will make my anxiety worse. I used to only get it at night but now is it all the time even in the mornings. It is making me change my whole life around my anxiety. I have found that ginger gum helps me. Ginger is great for the stomach and which leads to the mental side of feeling better. I hate how I feel and feel horrible knowing other people are going through this. You are not alone in this even though it may feel like it.

    I have the EXACT same thing. As of right now I’m in a state of panic bc I woke up anxious at 3 am. I know I’m fine but I still freak out for no reason and get scared I’m going to throw up. It had ruined so many days of my life

    I fear throwing up. I start to shake and cry and my anxiety goes through the roof. I wish it would just stop and go away. It’s so bad I beg god to take it away Bc I think I can’t get through it. I’m terrified. I wish I knew how to get rid of it. This is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I avoid certain foods, I can’t go on long trips, if I even feel the slightest sick I don’t want to do anything. I don’t go places I don’t eat I barely even talk. I don’t understand where this phobia came from. Everyone else just gets sick but me I freak out. My fiancé tells me to just get over it but it isn’t that easy. I wish I could just not be afraid, that I could be scared of normal things like spiders or heights. But this is just one of my flaws. I hopefully will get over it eventually. I just don’t know how to start.

    I feel the exact same way you do about everyone being asleep ad being scared of throwing up. I have gone a long time without having a pain attack over being sick but I am having one right now as I type. I would really like to know if anyone has a way to try ad cope with this anxiety as it can really mess with my head and stop me from sleeping at a reasonable time. Normally if I get a pair attack about it earlier on in the evening, I will go to my parents as I am still in high school ad living with them. They ca always calm me dow by making me laugh and explaining I am being silly ad I am absolutely fine. Just hearing that makes me feel automatically better. For me, the best way to calm yourself down a little is to ask yourself what have you done today to throw up? Have you perhaps stayed at home all day? You have't been near anybody, you cat have caught anything. as log as you have't necessarily been I the room or ear someone who has just throw up with a sickness bug or currently has one, you have a low chance of throwing up. reassure yourself of this and watch something that makes you calm. for me its a certain Netflix tv show called Jae the virgin that just has a lovely feeling to it. I hope this helps and please reply back if you have had similar experiences as it would be ice to know im not crazy. :)

    I also fear sleeping! I’m always afraid of going to bed because I think I will be sick! I can’t handle a stomach ache or nausea at all, and I beg for medicine because I think it will make me better. People say ‘ you will feel better if you throw up!’ I say ‘yeah’, but I don’t really believe it and continue panicking! I also wish mine would go away....

    Trust me, I know how you feel. I never had this fear until that horrible stoumach bug that almost everyone I know got in December and ever since then, I've been terrified. Everyone makes fun of me for it because I ALWAYS feel sick, no matter what. It's really hard because I remember feeling good not even a year ago, able to do most things, not having to take sleeping medication because it's the only way I feel the nausea go away, and being TERRIFIED to eat anything. I've been so scared for flu season and with this covid stuff, it's been worse on me. It's ecspecially hard because I don't have school, therefore, I don't have anything to distract me from my surroundings because being at home makes it worse.

    I can agree. I also have a humongous fear of being sick. One stomach ache can sent me spiraling. If I feel unwell, my anxiety automatically tells my brain the worst that could happen, (usually the flu) in this coronavirus pandemic I check my forehead every night to see if I have a fever. And I hold my breath for 10 seconds to see if my chest hurts. It keeps me up and bothers me every night.

    I am so glad I ant the only one I fort I was ! Every thing ur going frew I'm exactly the same its awfull and no one understands my partner just thinks km weird if u ever want someone to talk to I'm always here it's nice to talk to someone who is going frew the same my email address is hayleyrgray87@gmail.com if u ever wanna chat x

    I am feeling the same all the time. I always worry about people judging me if I say that... I actually don't feel good (kind of like Imma p***) so I'm searching the web. Just wanted to say, Hope you will feel better soon and overcome this fear. <3

    Honestly i get this i have severe emetaphobia i feel sick all day evrry day. Im sick of it literally. I can't eat without feeling intensely sick. Horrible and i can't stop crying. I get into bad extreme panic attaxks. Its never made me sick even at my worst ones. Still never stops me worrying.

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