If you suffer from emetophobia, you may find yourself structuring your days around avoiding scenarios where you or someone else might throw up.

If you find yourself indulging in the following or similar behaviours then it could potentially hint at the suffering of emetophobia

  • discarding foods that you associate with vomiting
  • eating in small portions, being excessively cautious of where and what you eat
  • washing hands, dishes, food items like fruits and vegetables, and kitchen tools excessively to get rid of any smell or germs
  • avoiding taking medication that could cause nausea
  • avoiding travel, parties, public transportation, or any crowded public space which may make you nauseous
  • having shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or increased heartbeat at the thought of vomit

These behaviours are interrelated with mental health symptoms, such as:

  • panic at the thought of not being able to leave a crowded area if someone vomits
  • anxiety and distress when feeling nauseated or thinking about vomit
  • persistent, irrational thoughts linking an action to an experience involving vomit

People with specific phobias like emetophobia are usually aware that their reaction to the object of their phobia isn’t typical. For example, you might do everything in your control to avoid eating food cooked by someone else although that isn’t normal for other people.

Causes of Emetophobia

Phobias like emetophobia usually develop after an incident involving the feared incident. This might involve:

  • feeling extremely sick in public
  • having bad food poisoning
  • witnessing someone else throw up
  • having someone vomit on you
  • having a panic attack during an incident of vomiting

Emetophobia may also develop without the aforementioned, this leads to the belief that genetics and your environment may play a role. For example, having a family history of anxiety disorders may place you at a higher risk.

The disorder often begins in childhood, and those adults who have lived with emetophobia for all their life may not even remember the first triggering event.

Getting the right treatment for emetophobia is imperative as it usually harms the patient’s daily life. It may take some time to find the right therapist and treatment for your needs, but the result is usually worth the time, patience and effort.

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