Emetophobia: The Meaning Behind The Fear Of Vomiting

Last updated by Katie M.

I’ve had a lot of incomprehensible fears, but the one that’s won hands down is the fear of vomiting. It’s called emetophobia, and I was traumatized by this phobia for a long time. Not taken very seriously, or even mocked, the fear of vomiting is actually one of the most common phobias in the world! It’s not a harmless fear, which is just temporary, it hides something deeper. All will be explained.

Emetophobia: The Meaning Behind The Fear Of Vomiting

How do you know if you’re emetophobic?

When you’re emetophobic, you feel deep discomfort at the very idea of vomiting. Beyond that, anything remotely related to vomit makes you uncomfortable 😥: talking about vomiting, seeing/hearing someone vomit, etc. Just writing these few lines makes my stomach churn 🤢! We even develop hypochondria as we’re afraid of catching an illness that makes us sick (stomach bug, our biggest dread). In fact, we end up fearing any situation where we’re likely to vomit: transport journeys, pregnancy, epidemics, contact with children, etc.

Limiting yourself because of the phobia

Emetophobia mainly affects women, which doesn’t help us, as vomiting can be a symptom of pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester 🤰. I admit that the idea of being pregnant paralyses me for this… The fear of vomiting is very disabling as it can limit our social contacts, but also change our behavior. Many emetophobics have for example eating disorders, in order to avoid any food that may make you be sick 😔…

Why are you scared of vomiting?

Emetophobia is considered to be related to other anxiety disorders that may trigger a fear of vomiting. It’s therefore mostly treated as a comorbidity (that accompanies other disorders). It’s true that it’s often linked to social phobia, panic disorder and agoraphobia. Nevertheless, it’s good to ask what’s really behind this fear of vomiting 🤔.

Loss of control, one of the reasons for emetophobia

It’s a bodily loss of a fluid that belongs to us and that we’re supposed to keep inside us. In reality, the fear of vomiting is one of the forms of the fear of losing control 😱. When we’re emetophobic, we fear not being able to control ourselves in front of others, we don’t want to lose control of our body. It’s as if our body is scoffing at us by making an unexpected invasion.

Personally, I think this is true, at least in my case 🧐. I feel that it’s unnatural to vomit and that food shouldn’t go back up the other way. I have eating disorders that hide deeper anxieties and of course, all of this is linked. The need to control my body is important as it reassures me.

How can you get rid of emetophobia?

So what can you do to cure yourself and no longer be afraid of vomiting? I’ve done a lot of work on accepting this phobia, and it’s eased a lot. Of course, I’m not 100% comfortable vomiting, and I’d rather turn my head away when I see someone about to be sick. I no longer have anxiety attacks when I feel like I might be in a situation that could make me vomit, and that’s a relief 🙏.

Therapeutic support is the key to being able to overcome emetophobia. Cognitive and behavioural therapy is the most adapted to phobias, as it aims to “reprogramme” our behaviours. The psychologist will identify the mechanisms at the origin of our anxiety in order to help us build a new way of thinking. CBT is particularly suitable for all types of phobias, but also for anxiety disorders such as generalised anxiety. Doing this sort of therapy really helped me to make progress with my deepest fears 🙌.

Editor’s note: Don’t wait!

Emetophobia, the panicked fear of vomiting, is a very disabling fear as it leads us to avoid many situations and thus affects our social life. The good news is that certain therapies such as CBT are very effective, so don’t wait to make an appointment, don’t let your phobia deprive you of beautiful moments with your close ones.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!


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