Emetophobia - Symptoms and Information

What is Emetophobia?

Emetophobia is the fear of sick or vomit. It can be fear of either vomiting yourself or fear of someone else being sick. It can be a very debilitating condition and is often misunderstood by many people including some doctors and therapists.

The effects and symptoms of Emetophobia can range from mild to severe. Although the majority of Emetophobics developed the condition in childhood and have had it for as long as they can remember there are also a number of sufferers that developed the condition as an adult.

Obviously no one likes vomit or being sick and the majority of people experience an appropriate level of disgust and dislike towards it which would be considered a normal reaction. However the big difference between a normal reaction and an Emetophobic response is that the Emetophobic experiences higher than normal levels of anxiety about vomit or being sick and even possibly feelings of panic.

While most people only think about vomit or being sick when absolutely necessary the Emetophobia spends much of their time thinking about it. Sometimes hours on end and this only adds to the anxiety caused by the condition.

Most phobias involve an element of anxiety however it’s not uncommon for Emetophobics to experience very high levels of anxiety due to the condition. In some cases even extreme anxiety and panic attacks. Emetophobia is essentially a combination of both a phobia and a severe Anxiety Disorder.

The Anxiety Loop

Paul Wright

What often happens is that the anxiety about vomit causes a fearful phobic response which understandably makes the sufferer even more anxious about the situation. This then causes a behavioral response loop in the neurology that goes anxiety > fear of vomiting > anxiety > Emetophobic response.

As a way of protecting themselves from being sick many Emetophobics adopt protection behaviors such as being fanatical about cleaning, food hygiene, not eating in restaurants, not eating BBQ’d food or anything that they think may have gone off. In some cases these protection behaviors can develop into OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

Other symptoms associated with Emetophobia

It is not uncommon to find an element of OCD in people suffering with Emetophobia. Given the combined effects of the fear, anxiety and OCD it’s not surprising that some Emetophobia sufferers can also feel a degree of depression due to how Emetophobia effects your quality of life.

Some Emetophobics dislike going out to social events, parties or any where that could mean being near anyone that is drunk incase they are sick. Many Emetophobics also dislike traveling by train or bus incase they come into contact with someone that may either vomit or catch a virus / bug from.

Emetophobics may feel anxious or possibly afraid of flying. This is generally not due to a fear of being in the air or of crashing but a fear of someone in the airplane being sick. Emetophobics tend to be very wary of anyone that looks ill or drunk and seeing the seat belt sign coming on due to turbulence will cause them to worry about people being sick due to turbulence.

Emetophobia and the internet

For many Emetophobics one of the most frightening things is hearing about any virus or bug going around whether it’s at work, their child’s school or nursery. And any news in the media about the Norovirus, Flu epidemics or other pandemics can cause highly elevated levels of anxiety.

Some Emetophobics will spend hours a day on the internet reading news reports about the Norovirus or whatever virus is in the news. In some cases it can be like a morbid fascination with the thing that scares them the most.

Because they fear being sick some Emetophobics on hearing the news of a bug or virus going round will deliberately eat less based on the belief that if they are sick having less in their stomach to bring up will either reduce the chance of being sick or make it less unpleasant.

Women and Emetophobia

Paul Wright

Emetophobia can affect both men and woman however the implications can be more upsetting for women. This is because the fear of being sick can actually make some women scared of getting pregnant or bringing up children due to the fear of morning sickness and / or the fear of having to deal with children vomiting.

The effects of Emetophobia not only leaves some women battling with their own fear of vomit they also feel very upset because they feel unable to comfort their own child when it is ill. Obviously being unable to be a good mother and properly look after your own children would be upsetting for most women and that only adds even more distress to what is already a horrible condition.

Emetophobia effects more than just the sufferer

Emetophobia is a condition that not only affects the sufferer it can also have a significant impact on the lives of their family and friends.

Emetophobia can be treated successfully

However there is hope because there are a number of effective therapies and treatments that can help alleviate and even cure Emetophobia. Many people can make either significant improvements or completely overcome Emetophobia.

Although the idea of sitting in a doctors waiting room can be scary for an Emetophobic as with any severe anxiety you should talk to your GP or other suitable doctor first to rule out any underlying medical cause for the anxiety.

Treatment options include CBT, Counseling, Psychotherapy, Medication, Hypnotherapy, NLP and a number of other choices.

At PhobiaGone we have over 14 years experience in helping people with Emetophobia. To find out how Hypnotherapy and NLP can help you overcome Emetophobia click here.

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