Help! I’m Afraid of Vomit – Conquering Emetophobia
GroundWork provides in-person sessions in Central Florida, and virtual sessions to clients residing in Florida, Maine, Vermont, South Carolina and Montana. We provide therapy for children, teens and adults struggling with emetophobia.
What is emetophobia & the fear of vomiting?
Emetophobia, or the fear of vomiting / throwing up, is a surprisingly common fear that affects an estimated 8% of people worldwide. This phobia is often misunderstood, with many dismissing it as a trivial or irrational fear. However, for those who suffer from emetophobia, it can have a significant impact on their quality of life, including difficulty in daily functioning and avoidance of social situations. In this blog post, we will explore the impact of emetophobia and the effective exposure therapy that can help sufferers overcome this debilitating fear.
Emetophobia can manifest itself in various ways. Some sufferers are afraid of vomiting themselves, while others are afraid of being present when others vomit. The fear can also extend to objects such as food or even the word “vomit.” This fear can cause a considerable amount of stress and anxiety for those who suffer from it, leading to constant worry and avoidance of situations that could potentially trigger their fear.
Emetophobia’s impact on your life
The impact of emetophobia can be far-reaching, affecting both personal and professional aspects of a sufferer’s life. Sufferers may avoid social gatherings such as parties or even dinner dates in fear of encountering the object of their fear. Emetophobia can also lead to difficulties in everyday functioning, such as avoiding certain foods or even missing work or school due to fear of illness.
Effective CBT therapy for emetophobia:
Effective treatment for emetophobia involves exposure therapy. In this therapy, patients are gradually exposed to the object of their fear in a controlled environment with the guidance of a therapist. The goal is to desensitize the patient to their phobia by slowly increasing exposure to the feared object. This therapy can also involve cognitive restructuring, helping patients reframe and challenge their fear-based thoughts.
Research has shown exposure therapy to be highly effective in treating emetophobia. Patients experience significant improvement in their symptoms, including decreased avoidance behaviors and reduced anxiety. It is also essential to note that exposure therapy should always be supervised by a trained therapist. Self-exposure or exposure without proper guidance can have negative consequences and be counterproductive to treatment.
Finding the right help
Living with emetophobia can be incredibly challenging, but help is available. With the right treatment, you can overcome your fear and reclaim your life. If you’re struggling with this phobia, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional support and guidance. With a combination of exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring, you can face your fear and gain back control over your life.
Emetophobia is a common but often misunderstood phobia that can have significant impacts on one’s quality of life. It is essential to recognize the fear and seek proper treatment to overcome it. Exposure therapy, along with other treatment methods, can be highly effective in treating emetophobia. If you or someone you know is struggling with this fear, reach out to a professional for help in overcoming it. Remember, with the right treatment, it is possible to conquer emetophobia and regain control of your life.
Emetophobia Common Symptom list
- Avoidance of germs
- Overuse of OTC mediations and Zofran
- Significant reassurance seeking / questioning family members
- Intense fear or anxiety when encountering someone who’s ill
- Unusual washing or cleaning habits
- Avoidance of air travel, or boats due to motion sickness
- Food avoidance, particularly foods thought to cause illness
- Avoidance of medical TV shows, movies, or other media depicting vomiting or sickness
- Anxiety when hearing words like “sick” or “vomit”
- Increased heart rate, shortness of breath, or nausea when thinking about vomiting
- Seeking constant reassurance that they or others are not going to vomit
- Restricting activities based on the fear of encountering someone who might be sick
- Refusal to eat food that has been prepared by others or outside the home
- Avoidance of large crowds or public places due to fear of germs being transmitted
- Feeling overly anxious when someone around them is coughing or sneezing
- Unreasonable fear of becoming ill after touching everyday items like doorknobs, handrails, or other items used by a large number of people
- Avoidance of activities that could potentially cause vomiting, such as roller coasters or amusement park rides
- Persistent thoughts and worries about getting sick with an illness or virus
- Avoidance of medical care due to fear of being diagnosed with a serious illness
- Refusal to take prescribed medications due to fear of becoming ill
- Extreme anxiety when someone close to them is sick or appears to be developing symptoms of an illness.
- Overly cautious behavior in public restrooms, such as wearing gloves and using hand sanitizer frequently
- Anxiety when food has been prepared by others or outside the home, due to fear of contamination.
- Trouble sleeping due to persistent thoughts of vomiting or becoming ill
- Becoming overly concerned with the cleanliness of their environment and items they use
- Engaging in avoidance behaviors, such as staying away from certain places that may have more germs than others.
- Feeling anxious or scared when traveling by plane, bus, train, or any other form of public transportation due to fear of becoming ill.
- Difficulty eating out at restaurants or trying new foods due to fear of food poisoning and contamination.
- Becoming overly concerned with one’s own health and physical symptoms, leading to a fear of contracting an illness.
- Avoidance of medical treatments or procedures due to fear of becoming ill or vomiting during the procedure.
- Refusal to engage in activities where there are crowds, such as concerts, sports events, or amusement parks due to fear of contamination and germs.
- Engaging in obsessive behaviors related to hygiene, such as excessive washing of hands, avoiding touching door handles or other surfaces commonly used by the public.
- Avoidance of contact with animals due to fear of contracting an illness from them.
- Refusal to eat certain foods based on a perception that they are unhealthy or contaminated.
- Feeling overly anxious around people who are coughing, sneezing, or displaying any signs of illness.
- Unreasonably checking the Internet or other sources for information about illnesses and symptoms.
- Avoidance of public restrooms due to fear of germs and contamination.
- Refusal to share eating utensils or dishes with family members or friends due to fear of contracting an illness from them.
- Feeling overly anxious or panicked when around people who may have recently been sick with an illness.
- Refusal to drink tap water due to fear of contamination or germs.
- Spending excessive amounts of time researching and attempting to prevent becoming ill with a virus or other communicable disease.
- Avoidance of shaking hands with others due to fear of contracting germs.
- Refusal to attend school or participate in activities due to fear of becoming ill from exposure to other students.
- Becoming overly concerned with the safety and cleanliness of food preparation, storage, and handling.
We’re Here to Help
At GroundWork, we provide specialized treatment for emetophobia using evidence-based practices such as exposure therapy. Our experienced therapists can provide guidance and support to help you facing your fear and overcome it. If you are struggling with emetophobia, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help. GroundWork provides CBT and ERP for clients in Florida, Maine, Vermont, Montana, and South Carolina.
Courtney Hubscher was recently featured on Emetophobia Help; a nationally recognized podcast.