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Fear of Vomiting: Emetophobia

Most people don’t enjoy vomiting. It’s often categorized as strange and gross, but most people go on with their lives after they endure a short time of vomiting. However, some people spend a lot of time worrying about vomiting, even if they or others around them aren’t sick. For those affected by the extreme fear of vomiting, just the thought of it can cause significant distress.

Fear of vomiting is a real condition, and those suffering from it have an extreme fear of vomiting, seeing vomit, see other people vomit, or feeling sick as if they were going to vomit.

So what is Emetophobia? According to the NCBI:

A disproportionate fear of vomiting, or emetophobia, is a chronic and disabling condition which is characterized by a tendency to avoid a wide array of situations or activities that might increase the risk of vomiting

The NCBI notes that this is fairly difficult to treat. In this post, we will review the fear of vomiting phobia is detail.

What is the Fear of Vomiting Called?

The fear of vomiting is called Emetophobia.

What is Emetophobia?

Emetophobia is a mental disorder that causes a person to be extremely afraid of vomiting. Phobias like Emetophobia can cause extreme amounts of anxiety and can significantly interfere in normal activities like going out in public or simply eating.

Symptoms of Emetophobia

Here are some common symptoms of Emetophobia:

  • Not eating foods that are associated with vomiting
  • Examining food often to make sure it hasn’t gone bad
  • Not touching surfaces that may have germs that could lead one to get sick
  • Eating slowly, very little, or only eating in certain places
  • Excessive washing of hands, dishes, or surfaces where one will eat
  • Avoiding alcohol or other medications that can cause nausea
  • Avoiding traveling, school, work, parties, or other social places
  • Having trouble breathing, a tightness in the chest, or a fast beating heartbeat when thinking about vomit

The above behaviors are often combined with mental health symptoms like:

  • Extreme fear of having to throw up with no safe place to do so
  • Extreme fear of seeing someone vomit
  • Extreme fear of not being able to stop throwing up
  • Anxiety or stress when thinking about vomit
  • Irrational and persistent thoughts about a past experience involving vomit
  • Feeling like you’re stuck and won’t be able to escape a location after you see someone vomiting

Take our free online anxiety test or our online PTSD quiz

DSM-5 Criteria for Specific Phobias: Diagnosing Emetophobia

According to the DSM-5, specific phobias, such as Emetophobia, are diagnosed by a medical professional when someone meets the following criteria:

  • Unreasonable, excessive fear: Marked fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation (e.g., flying, heights, animals, seeing blood, or in this case, fear of vomiting).
  • Immediate anxiety response: The phobic object or situation almost always provokes immediate fear or anxiety.
  • Avoidance or extreme distress: The individual goes out of their way to avoid the object or situation, or endures it with extreme distress.
  • Life-limiting: The fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • Six months duration: The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, typically lasting for 6 months or more.
  • Not caused by another disorder: The disturbance is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder, including fear, anxiety, and avoidance of situations associated with panic-like symptoms or other incapacitating symptoms (as in agoraphobia); objects or situations related to obsessions (as in obsessive-compulsive disorder); reminders of traumatic events (as in posttraumatic stress disorder); separation from home or attachment figures (as in separation anxiety disorder); or social situations (as in social anxiety disorder).

Treating The Fear of Vomiting Phobia

Let’s review some common treatments of the fear of vomiting phobia:

Exposure Therapy

The best treatment option for the fear of vomiting phobia is a form of psychotherapy called exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a type of psychotherapy treatment that focuses on changing a person’s response to the object or thing they fear. Specifically for the fear of vomiting, this might mean eating a new food in a restaurant or spinning until you start feeling dizzy. As a sufferer participates in these activities, they will be given new strategies and techniques to help cope with the feelings of anxiety and fear that may arise. This technique is excellent for treating phobias, such as those suffering from vomiting. Over time after having multiple exposures that become more intense, a person can learn to overcome.

Find mental health professionals that use exposure therapy treatment

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

According to the NCBI, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a recommended treatment for PTSD. Because Emetophobia is frequently onset by a childhood memory, often a distressing experience of vomiting or seeing someone else vomiting, EMDR therapy is a capable therapy to resolve disturbing memories of scarring events of a person’s past.

Take our online emetophobia quiz to see if you may have PTSD

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is another way mental health professionals treat phobias such as the fear of vomiting. CBT combines exposure therapy along with other techniques to teach a sufferer to learn ways to view and cope with vomiting. CBT also teaches a sufferer new beliefs about their fear of vomiting so that they can develop a mastery and confidence over their thoughts and feelings rather than feeling overwhelmed.

Find mental health professionals that use cognitive behavioral therapy


Typically psychotherapy such as exposure therapy and CBT are enough for most fear of fear of vomiting phobia sufferers. However, sometimes medications can help reduce some of the side effects like anxiety or panic associated with a person’s phobia.

Some medications include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antianxiety medications
  • Betablockers
  • Sedatives

Find mental health professionals that can help you with medication management

Overcoming Your Fear of Vomiting

Thank you for reading our post on Emetophobia, or the fear of vomiting phobia. If you have a fear of vomiting phobia, it may seem like a daunting task to overcome. But there is hope!

Many mental health professionals focus on treating phobias through exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.

If you’re searching for treatment, look no further than mental health professionals listed on TherapyByPro. Find mental health professionals that treat phobias

Take our online phobia test

Anthony Bart
Author: Anthony Bart

Anthony Bart is a huge mental health advocate. He has primarily positioned his marketing expertise to work with mental health professionals so that they can help as many patients as possible. He is currently the owner of BartX, TherapistX, and TherapyByPro.

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