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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.

 

    every night is the worst because i feel so alone. i feel so sick at night and because everyone is asleep it makes it so much worse. i cant go in any car rides because i get really bad panic attacks and i think , "what happens if i get sick in the car". i dont go to school bc im afraid of getting sick or seeing someone sick or just catching a bug from school. i dont eat after people. i dont drink. i dont eat as much as i should but everytime i eat i get anxious. im terrified to hang out with my friends just in case. im 15 and ive only been sick twice and it wasnt that bad but im still absolutly terrified. it almost seems like i need to get sick so i know its not that bad but i cant. every single day i think im gonna be sick but i never do. it controls my life and all my thoughts hopefully one day i learn that its not that bad.

    I have a really bad fear of this and I WISH it could go away. Whenever I go to a place literally anywhere, my only thoughts are "what if I throw up, what if I throw up" and it makes me feel sick just thinking about it so it makes everything so much worse. And I had it worse when I was younger, and I'm glad it's gotten a LITTLE better... but when I was little I was so scared of going to school because everyone would always throw up. I would go home with a fever almost everyday because I made myself feel so sick from my fear. It was awful. And I feel my major fear is coming back and I don't know why, but it just prevents me from wanting to go anywhere because i'm so scared someone will throw up, or I will. I have major stage fright, im too scared to ride roller coasters, I don't like to go to movie theaters, or plays, and I'm scared to go to stores, malls, etc. all because of my stupid fear. But usually I try to fight through it because like I want to have fun. I just need help.

    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 especially suffer at night time when am trying to sleep and all I can think about is sick . I keep mints at the side of my bed and for during the day I have chewing gum I find this defo helps me . It’s the fear of when is it going to happen. I never like to leave my house unless I’m going to work and I don’t like sleeping over at anyone else’s house I just have the fear of what if I feel sick and I feel trapped that I can’t go home .

    This is one of the best things I’ve read today. I’ve been having this feeling for so long. It started affecting a lot of parts of my life. I’m going to try this. I really hope it works. I would love to talk

    When ever I get nervous about the V word my MIND starts to tell me that it’s the real thing this time and every time I end up believing it but then it never happens! What helps me is to sit on the couch and listen to music with my earbuds and just sing along to what ever song is on it helps a lot and then while I’m doing it and if I don’t think I’m hungry I slowly munch on if few crackers it helps a lot because when you get nervous like that you feel like you’re not hungry and if you like if you eat it’s gonna make you vomit quicker but every time it never happens so you have to try and tell yourself and trust me I’m not an expert either

    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.

    I had this one episode of vomiting in the summer a year ago and a few months after that I started having a very strange reflux issue. I found out that I have a reflux-like issue that is so bad that the partially digested stuff goes all the way up to the base of my throat and it feels like the time when your actually sick about 5 seconds before you throw up except it's all the time, literally 24/7 but the few hours furthest away from a meal.

    This gives me vomit phobia as well and my life is controlled completely by it. It's like how people with addictions are taken over and controlled against their will by the addiction, but with avoiding every possible vomit sickness. I get rashes and cracks in my hands from washing them so much, my bathroom towel is damp from the previous washing when I go back, I check the date on every packaged food I eat, and the list goes on an on. It's a true nightmare and I just can't take it anymore and I'm sure none of you all can either. Thanks for making me less alone.

    I have had v phobia since I was 4 I had the worst stomach bug... I go to therapy and that is helping... I feel nauseous every hour. It goes away when I am with friends and family, but then once I think of it again I freak. It has ruined my life but I’ve had it for so long that I’ve learned to manage it. I’ve had many panic attacks and was diagnosed with OCD... my biggest tip is to make sure you know that it is just your mind no matter how nauseous you think you feel... I hope this helps!

    Hey! I have the exsact same issues you do, you had mentioned that you check dates on food as well, I do this and my friend pointed out that not only do I have emetaphobia, now I also have cibophobia. You should check that out on google cause it sounds to me like you have that too. I hope we can get through this!! Take care!

    I have an ig if you want.. smominsnail98.. I also need someone to talk to.. I'm currently panicking right now about it..

    I have this phobia since I was a toddler and it’s ruining my lifeI’ve always wanted to talk about it but no one understands me I get mocked for it

    Everytime i have an illness, i ALWAYS look up the symptoms. i am so scared of throwing up that i stop eating in public places. that has a lot to do with anxiety too. i am scared that i will throw up at school and when i don’t eat, it makes the stomach pain worse. so i feel like i’m going to throw up even more. this happens for like 3 weeks but then stops and then happens again. My family doesn’t understand and whenever i do eat it is really tiny bits because i am scared that if i eat too much at one time, i will throw up!!

    This sounds just like my problem, I was diagnosed with mild gastritis, and now feel acid reflux, every morning when I wake up I get the feeling of food stuck in my throat. I know get a pressure on my stomach after two hours of eating. I’m really trying to treat it, but don’t know how. It’s making my social life bad, I really can’t do anything with me having to think about that thought in the back of my head. Please let me know if you find a cure!! I really need one.

    I’ve had this fear since I was a young child and I can’t shake it. I don’t sleep at night anymore bc of the fear I waking up and getting sick. I am ALWAYS feeling like I am going to “V” and can do nothing to control the anxiety/panic.

    Reading your comment is exactly how I feel, I can relate. I need some noise in the background or someone in the same room as me to relax. I feel like I can’t enjoy things without worrying about throwing up, please I’m always so scared of catching bugs and I’m only 14. I thought I was the only person who felt like this

    My fear started when I was around 5. My brother was a very picky eater (and he still is) and whenever mom told him to eat something he dislikes he tries to throw up. I've seen him throw up so many times. Also, at age 7, I had eaten a lot of popcorn very late at night. I went to bed right after. At 1:30 AM I woke up, put my mouth facing my pillow and threw up (very quickly I did that). Ever since, I have been scared that either I will throw up or somebody else will throw up on me. Only one person has ever threw up on me and I can't blame her, she has car sickness.

    Same here!! 5 yo and I had a bad stomach bug and I’ve thrown up once since then (3 years ago and I was in complete shock) and I’m now 31 and terrified of getting ill. This year has been much worse in regards to panic. My stomach gets upset and anxiety follows or vice versatility every night now. It’s really interfering with my life. I am not THIS and yet it’s beyond familiar. I’d do anything to get rid of it. Except get physically ill. Ha! Please, No.

    I am 37 and have a beautiful 9 year old daughter. My phobia has always been there but it got worse after a car wreck I was in in 2002. A couple of weeks later I felt so nauseous one night and stayed in the bathroom. I never got sick but I feel sick daily. My daughter just had a stomach bug and came home vomiting and diarrhea. I instantly began shaking and covering my ears in my room. I hate the way I am. Thankfully I have my sister to take care of my daughter. I haven't been sick yet but I have lost 9 pounds in the last 10 days because I can't eat. It is not fair to my daughter especially. It has taken over my life and I don't know how to get it back. It is the anticipation. I ask God over and over to please spare me. It is ridiculously stupid but I can't control it.

    I can relate so much! I got really sick before I went into labor with my son and that experience was so traumatic. I fear mostly the night time because I was up sick and felt so lonely. I think my biggest fear is feeling out of control of my body. I avoid places that might cause me to vomit, and if someone tells me they had a stomach bug I avoid getting close to them, even if it was WEEKS ago, even with my own children. I turn into a total freak, washing EVERYTHING in the house 1000's of times. It's so comforting to know others feel this way. I thought I was crazy

    I’m very nervous to have children because I have this phobia. I refuse to get physically ill if possible. I don’t want to have the extreme anxiety while pregnant (for myself or child that I need to nourish and stay healthy for) and then the general germs they bring home once born! I love kids but I sometimes feel like my bubble is all I want to handle. I turn in to a crazy lady if I think I’m going to be sick. I dislike that about myself but I’m working in accepting it. I just wish koine had this phobia as well as no one had to get sick. EVER. It’s a joy crusher.

    Hi, I have the same exact fear. I’m looking for people who share the same phobia as me to talk to, maybe it’ll help with coping. Can I have your Snapchat or instagram?

    I feel the same way. It is the worst during flu season and the holidays where everyone is in close proximity. I have 3 children and anytime any of us have stomach aches I freak out. When one of them actually throws up I get scared...like true fear....I can't move in fear I will get their germs on me and catch it myself. I constantly wash my hands and disinfect everything...its exhausting and starting to rub off on them. I know its crazy to be afraid but I can't help it. I feel horrible I can't be with my kids when they are sick and that I have so much anxiety during the winter to even go to work.

    This phobia is interfering with my abilities to be a mom. My biggest fear is that my daughter will throw up. I obsess over over to the point I shake and bring myself into a panic attack if she throws up. My husband takes care of her while I'm outside taking deep breaths, getting fresh air and trying to stop myself from shaking. It's embarrassing and I hate this. My phobia steamed from some traumatic experiences with vomit as a child. I need help as I can't be the good mother I am to my daughter. I'm considering hypnotherapy. Anyone tried it and was successful? I'm willing to do anything. I can't run away...I'm the mother. I can't act this way anymore. It's not okay. I'm tired of being a basketcase:(

    I have this exact problem, I fear going to bed as I am scared I willl get sick in the night. I also get anxious in social situations and check for the near exits so that if I am sick I can get out.. for example I really struggled at a funeral a few weeks go as if I walked out people would of noticed!! Being worried and my stomach turning the caused me to have diarrhoea!! I also like you avoid going places!! I spend most of my time at at home with just my newborn. Glad I'm not alone in this.

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