Vomit phobia ( Emetophobia) or Fear of Vomiting Treatment

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Fear of Vomiting Treatment

Having an excessive or irrational fear of yourself and /or others vomiting  (emetophobia)  can restrict your life.  You may fear feeling nauseous and seeing or hearing other people vomit. Vomit phobia may affect what you eat,  where you go, who  you associate with and the activities you engage in.

Some people feel mildly apprehensive whereas others may have a full blown panic attack.

Although you may have had vomit phobia for a long time ( e.g. since childhood) you can overcome your phobia of  vomit/vomiting once you know to confront your fears appropriately You go at your own pace and are in control of what you do. It is possible to improve your condition and some people completely eliminate their symptoms.

If  you are tired of worrying whether you  and/or someone else is going to vomit and find that your life is handicapped by your fear, call now to get help on 0429 883671.

A clinical psychologist is  available online or face to face in Hawthorn,  Melbourne, Victoria to assist you to overcome your vomit phobia.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic  you can have psychology treatment without leaving home via the telephone or online. The telephone and online sessions are bulk billed for Commonweatth concession card holders.

Face to face Sessions are still available and are also Medicare rebateable.

Low income health care card holders and small business owners are bulked billed provided they have a mental health care plan and a separate referral letter stating the number of sessions authorised.

You do not have to have a referral from your doctor to get treatment but if you wish to get the Medicare rebate you need to get a mental health care plan and a separate referral letter stating 6 sessions.

Vomit Phobia Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • avoiding food  associated with past vomiting episodes
  • avoiding doctor’s surgeries, hospitals and sick people.
  • refusing to shake hands with people.
  • refusing to touch door knobs or supermarket trolley handles
  • excessive handwashing , use of hand sanitizer etc
  • excessive vitamin intake
  • excessive checking and smelling of food
  • overcooking food
  • avoiding certain foods such as chicken, seafood etc
  • throwing food away before the expiry date
  • monitoring other people for signs of illness
  • avoiding eating or restricting food intake
  • avoidance of eating out
  • avoiding work or school
  • avoiding pregnancy for fear of morning sickness
  • avoid taking medic
  • avoid taking medications which may have nausea as a side effect
  • avoiding parties or bars where they expect a lot of alcohol will be consumed
  • avoiding flying
  • being on the look out for people who are coughing, looking pale or giving off any other signs of potential unwellness.


Fear of Vomiting Child

Parents often present for treatment as they are having difficulty coping when their children are ill. Parents who have a vomit phobia may find they are constantly monitoring their children’s health and living in fear  that their offspring will bring home gastroenteritis from crèche or school.


Fear of Others Vomiting

Unfortunately not only do vomiting children trigger anxiety, but  sick family members, friends, work colleagues and even strangers can trigger anxiety. You may find yourself avoiding sick adults or children because of your fear of others vomiting. You may also avoid certain situations or activities because of  this fear e.g. hospitals, doctor’s surgeries,  being around people who are drunk, going on amusement rides, travelling on planes and boats, and even medical procedures as you fear you may vomit from the anaesthetic.


How Do You Treat Vomit Phobia?

Vomit phobia is treated with cognitive behavioural therapy. A psychologist can assist you to overcome your vomit phobia.

The psychologist needs to understand your symptoms:

  • the things you do to reduce the likelihood you will get sick or vomit ( e.g. excessive handwashing, overcooking food).
  • any checking behaviours you do to detect early signs of sickness
  • any behaviours you do to reduce the impact of illness ( e.g. excessive vitamin intake)
  • any avoidance of situations where vomiting might be very embarrassing or distressing, e.g. public speaking, job interviews, dates.

Emetophobia suffers often also have other  anxiety and mood disorders such as :

  • excessive worrying ( generalised anxiety disorder)
  • panic disorder
  • health anxiety ( hypochondriasis)
  • social anxiety
  • obsessive compulsive disorder

so your psychologist will check whether you have any co-existing diagnoses

CBT treatment of vomit phobia aims to

  • correct any erroneous beliefs  you have about illness
  • decrease avoidance  behaviours using exposure and response prevention.

The vomit phobia sufferer needs to be exposed to the physical symptoms associated with vomiting and nausea. Therefore you deliberately induce the feared physical symptoms  associated with nausea and vomiting which trigger anxiety, e.g. by  hyperventilating or spinning as these behaviours  can create feelings of dizziness, nausea and light headedness.Yout repeatedly practice exposing yourself to the physical sensations of dizziness, nausea and lightedheadness  until your anxiety drops significantly.

The vomit phobia sufferer also needs to expose themselves to their environmental triggers. An exposure hierarchy is generated by  you in collaboration with your psychologist. and then you then  you begin by confronting items lower on your hierarchy and once a less anxiety provoking trigger is conquered you move onto the next item up the hierarchy.  For example, if tyou have been avoiding going to your doctor’s waiting room  you need to repeatedly sit in the waiting room until your level of anxiety about doing so drops to a low level.

Vomit phobia sufferers who fear vomiting themselves should, where appropriate,  be exposed to simulated vomiting and drawings, photos, videos and sounds of vomiting.

Comorbidity in Emetophobia ( Specific Phobia of Vomiting). Sykes M, Boschen, M.J., and Conlon,  E.G. (2016) Clin Psychol Psychother.2016 Jul; 23(4): 363-7.doi: 10.1002/cpp.1964.Epub2015 May 28.







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