Emetophobia: Just How Serious Is It?

An emetophobic’s fear of vomiting and of vomit is so severe that it affects his or her quality of life. Most people want to avoid being sick, but emetophobics take the avoidance to another level.

How Does Emetophobia Affect You?

People with Emetophobia will make a concentrated effort to stay away from any situation that could lead to vomiting or illness in themselves or in others. This can cause a fear of leaving home (“Agoraphobia“) as they usually dislike being around large groups of people.

Obvious places emetophobics may avoid are theme parks and boats, which often lead to physical illness (e.g., motion sickness from rides and roller coasters, seasickness).
The anxiety is so strong that emetophobics will find themselves thinking of even more places to fear: fairs, parties with alcohol, schools. Some will refuse to go to a hospital because they worry they will see or hear someone vomit, or that they will catch an illness. Clearly, refusing to enter a medical facility can lead to dangerous repercussions for their health.

Some who suffer from Emetophobia are also wary of medications. Nausea is widely recognized as a typical side effect of most medications. Some emetophobics are so frightened of the idea of being nauseated that they will not take pills. The thought of taking a simple pain reliever becomes terrifying. Medications for serious conditions may also be refused, again leading to a potentially life-threatening situation.

Doctors and psychiatrists may prescribe emetophobics Benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety drugs). Unfortunately, medications for treating the severe anxiety associated with Emetophobia are often refused. Emetophobics are even less likely to take drugs for their condition because improvement is not guaranteed.

Other situations emetophobics may avoid are those that involve traveling. Fear of motion sickness can lead to avoidance of travel by plane, bus, or car. Being afraid to travel can make getting to work a major challenge for emetophobics. A simple trip to the grocery store can be a struggle. An emetophobic would have to drive to the destination without panicking about the possibility of car sickness. Then he or she would need to go into a public place filled with people, all of whom could become physically ill at any time.

These worries are not very likely to come true, but to an emetophobic they seem like reality. Emetophobics know the people around them everywhere they go are not going to vomit. Nevertheless, the possibility leads to anxiety.

Armed with Knowledge and Understanding

The more emetophobics know about the disorder, the more options they have. Some of these include holistic anxiety treatments, psychotherapy sessions, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Family and friends of emetophobics should be encouraging and supportive without allowing them to simply give up on finding a good treatment program. Anxiety disorders are hard on those who have them and their loved ones, but a healthy state of mind can still be achieved.