If for most people, vomiting causes a relatively reasoned feeling of disgust, for others, a simple mental visualization of vomiting can cause real anxiety.
Emetophobia, by definition, is an irrational fear of vomiting. Depending on the person, this can be expressed by the fear of vomiting, of being nauseous, of hearing or seeing someone vomiting, of being seen vomiting or of imagining oneself vomiting.
It is part of the specific phobic disorders, caused by specific circumstances, situations or objects.
What are the symptoms of emetophobia?
Emetophobia causes symptoms that vary depending on the person and the intensity of the phobia. Among the most common are:
-An intense fear of vomiting or seeing someone else vomit.
-Feeling an enormous discomfort when forced to endure these situations.
-An avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations (parties, dinners…).
-When confronted with vomiting, the symptoms of a panic attack appear (fear of fainting or dying, sweating, increased heart rate, dizziness…).
-In some cases, the fear of vomiting is such that the person prevents himself from eating, which causes a significant loss of weight. Frequently, emetophobia is confused with eating disorders.
How do you know if you have emetophobia?
To know if you suffer from emetophobia, there is no real test. However, everyday situations in which your reactions seem unreasonable or disproportionate should alert you. Some examples:
- You avoid all situations that could lead to nausea or vomiting (drinking alcohol, crowds, public transportation, sports…)
- Food, in all its phases (preparation, conservation, hygiene…) is a source of apprehension. Eating out, at a friend’s house or in a restaurant, is impossible for you.
- You are very afraid of getting sick (obsessive thoughts, even hypochondria) and do everything to avoid this (accumulation of health checks).
- You constantly observe yourself and are afraid of your own body.
What is the origin of Emetophobia?
As with all phobias and anxieties, there is no single, universally valid reason why you suffer from emetophobia. However, an event that occurred was probably the reason for it.
It could be an event that seemed insignificant to you but was actually traumatic. Indeed, it is possible that it was because you were sick as a child, and when you vomited, one of your parents was not present and you felt a negative feeling of abandonment, which generated anxiety.
It is also possible that this phobia appeared because of a conditioning to a situation. For example, you have had a particularly stressful day at work, and a lot of anxiety related to it, and you pass a person on the street who is overly drunk and vomiting. So you equate your anxiety with the vomiting situation.
How do I manage the anxiety of my emetophobia?
When you are faced with a difficult situation that triggers your emetophobia, it is not always easy to manage your emotions and anxiety.
The most important thing is to take the time to breathe. By breathing in through your nose, let the air enter your lungs and your body. Then exhale through your mouth and feel the air leave your body. Repeat the process 3 or 4 times.
Then become fully aware of your body and connect with every part of it. Try to scan your body and analyzing what feelings you have in each part.
Finally, imagine a place you like, a moment you love, a reassuring person, a pleasant smell that puts you in a safe place where you feel calm.
How to treat my emetophobia?
As with all anxieties, early treatment of this phobia allows for a quicker reduction of symptoms.
If you feel that you are experiencing a “simple disgust” and that it is taking up a lot of space in your life, don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Health professionals are there for that. They know, if necessary, how to help you. or redirect you to the appropriate professional.
Cognitive-behavioral therapies are particularly effective in the treatment of emetophobia. This therapy consists of treating the phobia through exposure in order to create a habituation to the situation.
In this therapy, you will work on automatic thoughts and understand how to manage your emotions in order to respond effectively to the anxiety.