Fear of Vomiting, or Emetophobia: How to Manage
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What is emetophobia, or fear of vomit?
A person who suffers from the specific phobia known as emetophobia has an overwhelming fear of being sick, witnessing vomit, seeing other people vomit, or of vomiting themselves. People who suffer from emetophobia frequently experience anxiety and engage in actions that have a negative impact on their day-to-day existence.
The vast majority of individuals despise being sick, yet it does not typically dominate their thoughts. People who suffer from emetophobia, on the other hand, spend a lot of time worrying about throwing up, even when neither they nor those around them are feeling sick. Sometimes it’s enough to induce severe discomfort simply to consider the possibility that someone might throw up.
This continuing anguish has the potential to have a significant effect on how you conduct your life. It’s possible, for instance, that you won’t be able to eat out, that you won’t be able to travel or go to crowded areas, that you won’t be able to try new foods, that you won’t be able to be around people who might be sick, and A significant number of people who suffer from emetophobia report that the disorder permeates nearly every facet of their lives.
Even while the anxiety brought on by emetophobia might feel like it’s too much to handle at times, the illness is frequently manageable with the assistance of a therapist.
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What signs and symptoms are there?
If you suffer from emetophobia, it’s likely that you go to great lengths to avoid situations in which you or another person might become sick. It’s possible that you’ll find yourself organising your days around avoiding these potential outcomes.
Additional behaviours that may be indicative of emetophobia include the following:
avoiding foods or environments that you have a strong association with becoming sick
eating slowly, eating very little, or eating only at home smelling or checking food frequently to ensure that it has not gone bad, or discarding food before it expires not eating new foods or drinking new beverages eating slowly or drinking very little or only eating at home
food that has been cooked beyond its safe temperature not touching objects that may harbour germs that might cause sickness, such as doorknobs, toilet seats or flushes, handrails, or public computers. food that has been overcooked.
avoiding places like hospitals or clinics where there is a chance that someone might be unwell or throw up
utilising antacids to prevent nausea or stomach distress before they occur overly monitoring your own health through actions such as measuring your temperature and related practises
Cleansing one’s hands, dishes, food, and the implements used to prepare it extreme caution should be taken when consuming alcoholic beverages or using any medications that could potentially induce sickness
avoiding certain terms, such as “vomit” or “puke,” as well as travelling, school, parties, public transportation, or any busy public environment. avoiding the use of any public restrooms.
monitoring the health of other people and avoiding contact with them if they look to be ill
avoiding unpleasant odours such as garbage or goods that have been soiled having difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, or an elevated heart rate at the mere notion of throwing up
These actions are accompanied by signs and symptoms related to mental health, including:
strong dread of being in the same room as someone else who is throwing up extreme dread of needing to throw up and being unable to locate a bathroom
strong anxiety of being unable to control one’s need to throw up; intense fear of choking on one’s own vomit; discomfort at the prospect of being embarrassed due to one’s tendency to throw up; panic at the prospect of being unable to exit a crowded area if another person throws up in the area;
Anxiety and worry caused by the sensation of being sick or the thought of throwing up
terror at the prospect of being sick and needing medical attention.
persistent and unreasonable thoughts connecting a recent activity to a memory involving vomiting in the past (for example, avoiding any plaid clothing after throwing up in public while wearing a plaid shirt)
It is important to keep in mind that people experience their phobias, including emetophobia, in a variety of unique ways. For instance, you could be more concerned about throwing up yourself than about seeing other people throw up.
In addition, people who suffer from specific phobias are typically aware that their response to the thing that triggers their phobia isn’t common.
You might, for instance, do everything in your power to avoid eating food that was made by someone else, despite the fact that you are aware that this is not how the majority of people conduct their lives.
This information is rarely beneficial and, more often than not, it only serves to make the experience more upsetting. It may also cause feelings of embarrassment, which may prompt you to try to conceal your symptoms from other people.
Why does it happen?
The experience that triggers a given phobia is frequently identifiable. The occurrence establishes as a trusted source a relationship between a specific thing, which may be a circumstance, an object, or an event, and the emotion of fear.
This could mean a number of things when discussing emetophobia, including the following:
displaying excessive symptoms of illness in public
being incapacitated for significant holidays due to a severe bout of stomach illness and vomiting
experiencing a panic attack during an episode of vomiting that involved seeing someone else throw up, having someone throw up on you, or both
Emetophobia can sometimes develop for no apparent reason, leading specialists to speculate that both your genes and your environment could play a part in its development. One factor that can put you at greater risk is if someone in your family has a history of certain phobias or other anxiety disorders.
It is also common for symptoms to first appear in childhood; however, some individuals who have suffered with emetophobia for many years may not be able to recall the initial incident that triggered their condition.
Do not be concerned if you are unable to identify a specific event that may have contributed to the development of your emetophobia. Even if you don’t know what triggered your phobia in the first place, seeking treatment might still be beneficial.
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Why do I feel sick to my stomach and have stomach pain?
When you live with emetophobia or generalised anxiety, you may frequently experience feelings of sickness, including nausea, dizziness, and lightheadedness. These are some of the physical symptoms that are associated with panic attacks and other forms of anxiety.
It can be difficult for a person who suffers from emetophobia to distinguish between the symptoms of worry, such as nausea and stomach discomfort, and the possibility that they will throw up.
It is possible for the symptoms of emetophobia to make the encounter even more distressing for the individual.
You may notice a reduction in the symptoms of your anxiety if you consult a therapist, practise mindfulness or meditation, or both. As a result, you may have less nausea and stomach pain.
Some mental health professionals are beginning to incorporate mindfulness practises into their cognitive and behavioural treatment modalities. In a study conducted in 2020 with 33 participants, it was discovered that brief sessions of meditation six days a week for a period of eight weeks lowered signs of stress, anxiety, and heart rate variability.
How exactly is it identified?
When extreme fear or anxiety about a certain thing or circumstance starts to produce anguish that negatively affects your life at home, school, or job, this is often labelled as a phobia. Phobias can be caused by anything from spiders to flying.
A diagnosis of emetophobia must also take into account the following criteria:
a substantial dread and anxiety response that occurs shortly after thinking about vomiting or seeing vomit
avoidance of events that could potentially result in vomiting
Since obsessive-compulsive behaviour is one of the most prominent signs of emetophobia, the condition may at first be misdiagnosed as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
There is a possibility that emetophobia will mimic the symptoms of agoraphobia. It’s possible to develop such a severe phobia of throwing up or seeing other people do it that it leads to panic attacks and makes it difficult or even impossible to leave the house.
On the other hand, if the sole reason you avoid going out in public is because you are afraid of throwing up, you are more likely to be diagnosed with emetophobia than with agoraphobia.
How is it dealt with medically?
Talk therapy is an effective treatment for emetophobia, which involves working through repetitive mental patterns related to vomiting. A lot of therapists use movies and other methods to gradually introduce their patients to the sensation of vomiting.
Phobias aren’t always severe enough to warrant treatment. In some situations, people figure out ways to get around the restrictions. However, it is much simpler to avoid certain feared things or situations, such as elevators or swimming, than it is to avoid others.
You can find it challenging to discover a way to get around your emetophobia because it can lead to many upsetting behaviours that affect important aspects of your life, such as preventing you from eating or getting medical treatment.
If you find that your fear is having a negative impact on your quality of life or if you often find yourself pondering how things might be different if you did not have a phobia, it is generally a good idea to seek professional assistance.
The majority of patients report that exposure therapy and, in some instances, medicines are successful in alleviating their symptoms.
Many people who suffer from certain phobias find that exposure therapy is one of the most helpful therapies for their condition. You will work closely with a therapist during this sort of therapy to gradually put yourself in situations that you find frightening.
Eating unfamiliar foods in a public setting, such as a restaurant, or spinning until you begin to feel the beginnings of nausea are two potential treatments for emetophobia. You will be provided strategies to assist you to manage feelings of worry and fear when you are exposed to these things. These strategies will be taught to you as you try these activities.
If you feel that you can’t handle all of this, you might want to check into desensitisation techniques. One form of therapy known as exposure therapy encourages patients to face their phobias by subjecting themselves to a series of escalating levels of risk over the course of several sessions.
CBT stands for cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that teaches people how to recognise and question unhelpful thoughts that contribute to emotional suffering.
Exposure to your fear is an important component of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for certain phobias. You will work with your therapist to address the worry and anguish you feel when thinking about vomiting and discover strategies to manage with it on your own as you are increasingly exposed to it. This will take place as you are gradually exposed to it.
CBT may be beneficial as a treatment for emetophobia, according to the findings of a study that was conducted in 2016 and involved 24 patients. Because this randomised controlled experiment was the first of its kind, additional research might assist support these findings.
It’s possible that finding a therapist will feel overwhelming, but that’s not necessarily the case. Begin by asking yourself some fundamental questions such as the following:
Which problems are you hoping to find solutions for? These might either be very particular or quite general.
Is there a particular set of skills or qualities that you’d want to see in a therapist? For instance, do you feel more at ease when you’re around someone who is the same gender as you?
How much money do you actually have available to spend on each appointment? Do you want someone who will negotiate the price with you or offer several payment options?
Where exactly will you find time for therapy in your busy schedule? Do you require the services of a therapist who is available to see you on a particular day of the week? Or perhaps someone who works late into the night?
Next, you should get started compiling a list of therapists in your general vicinity. Visit the therapist locator provided by the American Psychological Association if you are a resident of the United States of America.
Are you worried about the price? Our guide to low-cost therapeutic options can be of assistance.
There is no one medicine that is specifically prescribed for the treatment of emetophobia because it is such a rare mental health problem. It is also difficult to eradicate specific phobias through the use of medication, however certain treatments may assist minimise the symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks.
Beta blockers are a type of medication that can help reduce the effects of adrenaline, including elevated blood pressure and heart rate, as well as other physical signs of anxiety. In most cases, you will take one of them before entering a setting that can bring on the symptoms associated with your phobia.
Sedatives like benzodiazepines can make you feel less worried, but they also carry the risk of addiction, so their use for an extended period of time is not encouraged.
When used in conjunction with exposure therapy, a medication known as d-Cycloserine (DCS) may be beneficial. A 2017 literature review The results of 22 research that looked at persons living with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) indicated that deep brain stimulation (DCS) appeared to boost the effectiveness of exposure therapy.
On the other hand, exposure treatment is often quite effective when used by itself to cure phobias; hence, it may not be necessary to augment therapy with a medicine in order to get the desired results.
How optimistic should one be?
Treatment can help you reclaim control of your life and the activities you participate in on a day-to-day basis if you suffer from emetophobia. Finding the correct therapist and treatment strategy for your requirements can take some time, but it is time well spent if the end goal is to lessen the amount of suffering you experience in your life.