Fear of Sick
Emetophobia is an extreme fear of vomiting, seeing vomit, watching other people vomit, or even feeling sick. It can affect people in lots of different ways, but if you think you may be struggling with emetophobia, you are not alone – help is available.
Here are some peoples experiences:
I’m Anna, I am 23 years old and I’ve been dealing with a draining, exhausting phobia: Emetophobia. It all started when I was 14. Around this age, my anxiety attacks and obsessive thoughts were at peak and at school, I would get so worked up that I’d be sick. After a few years of finally deciding to get some help, I received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I thought that as my anxiety got better as a result of therapy, the nausea would disappear. But the nausea was so linked with my anxiety and had carried on for so long that I’d actually developed emetophobia. CBT helped me to realise that this anxiety had transformed into a phobia.
My treatment for emetophobia was probably the most unnerving thing I’ve done, yet it was probably the best thing for me. To finally stop letting the fear of sick rule my life. Me and my counsellor incorporated a rundown of things identified with sick that would terrify me, and we numbered them dependent on how frightened I would be. I then, at that point needed to stir up the rundown, looking at pictures and listening to sounds, and learning to cope with the feeling of absolute fear and discomfort that they created. With every week, we went up a level. Following a month and a half, I was obviously not completely cured, however I was miles better and coping more with the fear than when we began.
How to Cope with Emetophobia
The most effective treatment for emetophobia is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It’s a form of talking therapy that can help to treat emetophobia by challenging and changing the way you think about the fear. CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms and behaviours are all linked.
To learn to manage and hopefully overcome emetophobia, it may help if you develop self-help strategies as well as seeking therapy. The more you can do to help yourself overcome feelings of distress, the more in control of the condition you will feel. Try the following:
✔️ Talk to a friend
Confide in someone you trust – opening up to someone can help you feel less isolated.
✔️ Learn how to de-stress
Learn relaxation and mindfulness techniques to manage feelings of panic and anxiety. Meditation, deep breathing exercises and stretching may help.
✔️ Find support
Join an online support group and connect with other people with emetophobia. It can very comforting to know you are not alone in how you feel.
✔️ Do your research
Try reading a self-help book on phobias, or try an online programme. There are several app-based CBT courses available on the NHS apps library,
Some people take anti-vomiting drugs for emetophobia, but this can be very dangerous and should be avoided unless under the supervision of a medical professional.
- Your thoughts are not facts – the thing that’s scaring you might not be as bad as you believe. Someone being sick was never going hurt me, but my mind made me believe it would.
- It does not make you weak – Everyone gets scared. It does not make you weak, it makes you human. And being able to overcome this takes so much bravery and courage.
- Don’t be afraid to talk – everyone has fears, and maybe more people than you think have a phobia. It’s normal, and please seek help or talk about it if you need to.
- What am I actually afraid of?
- Am I afraid of the process or the result?
- Do I feel that I can handle the process?