Nausea and vomiting are usually expected as the symptoms of certain diseases and conditions including pregnancy. Sometimes, vomiting also helps to relieve the stomach of any contamination such as bad food.
Ideally, no one likes to vomit because it is neither pleasant nor comfortable. However, there are people who live in complete dread and fear of throwing up because of various reasons. This is essentially a type of phobia and it’s called Emetophobia.
Definition of Emetophobia
Emetophobia refers to the fear of vomiting but it is not simply just a fear of throwing up. It is an excessive, irrational fear about the possibility of vomiting. People with the fear of vomiting often associate the condition with an overwhelming sense of losing control or becoming very ill.
Is Emetophobia a mental illness?
Every phobia including fear of vomiting is psychological more specifically, anxiety disorders. It is a psychological disorder that affects how a person behaves or reacts in the presence of what is causing the fear.
Mental illness is a wide range of conditions that affect a person’s mood, thoughts, and behavior. Given these descriptions, it can be concluded that Emetophobia is a type of mental illness because it affects moods, behavior, and thoughts.
Is Emetophobia a form of OCD?
Emetophobia may not really be a form of OCD but people with Emetophobia often exhibit the symptoms of OCD which include:
- Avoidance behaviors like avoiding certain foods, places or events associated with food
- “Health-conscious” behaviors like refusing t shake hands, excessive hand washing and paying too much attention to food selection, preparation, and cleanliness
- “Checking” behaviors in order to detect early signs of illness, for instance, being hyper-vigilant with personal health or the health of others
- Performance of rituals to reduce the possibility of throwing up
Emetophobia can occur either concurrently with OCD but it is not a form of OCD. It only leads to sufferers having OCD behaviors which are demonstrated by excessive cleaning and checking rituals.
Symptoms of the fear of vomiting
Emetophobia develops symptoms of the fear of vomiting every time they think about vomiting or situations that may lead them to vomit. For example, they can experience some of the symptoms when they find themselves in the same space with other people who are sick.
Some of the symptoms include:
A diagnosis of Emetophobia is only made when a person exhibits a very distressing form of avoidance behavior which has a significant impact on the person’s life. Emetophobia avoids a wide array of situations or activities that they believe will increase the risk of vomiting.
Causes of Emetophobia
Emetophobia affects every age group. The fear of vomiting becomes noticeable from the early stages of childhood and when it is left untreated, it can be very debilitating. It can also develop during adulthood.
One of the causes of fear of vomiting is an associated experience such as severe stomach illness or episodes of vomiting. The severity of the vomiting can cause a person to develop the fear of vomiting.
Secondly, fear of vomiting can develop as a result of distressing experiences of seeing others vomit. Such an exposure negatively affects a person’s psychology which when coupled with personal distressing experience, sets the stage for Emetophobia.
Traumatic events are just one of the factors that play a role in the development of Emetophobia. The other factors include genetic predispositions and environmental factors. The interaction of all these factors contributes to the development of Emetophobia.
Hypnosis for the fear of vomiting
The treatment options for Emetophobia are very limited because there are very limited studies or controlled trials that show the efficacy of some strategies in treating the condition. However, some treatments have been reported to make a significant impact in improving Emetophobia. Among these treatments is hypnotherapy. Hypnosis treats this phobia in two ways:
- It helps to tackle the underlying issues that triggered the fear of vomiting in the first place
- It helps to reduce the feelings and symptoms of anxiety
Can you get over Emetophobia?
Emetophobia is a type of specific phobia. Other forms of specific phobias are easier to treat than the fear of vomiting. Unfortunately, if the fear is not addressed or treated it is likely to persist. The difficulty in getting over Emetophobia is mainly because most patients never improve after several treatment sessions.
As a matter of fact, some who are treated with exposure therapy requires more sessions because of the fear return between the sessions. It is possible to get over this phobia. Nevertheless, it requires a lot more effort to get over the fear of vomiting than it does for other phobias.
How to overcome Emetophobia?
Emetophobia is one of those phobias that can really damage a person’s social life. With Emetophobia, the fear can be so extreme such that the patient refuses to go to school and becomes isolated. In addition, it takes away the joy of life which hinders social activities like traveling, leisure, romantic relationships, and even pregnancy because of the morning sickness.
It is important to overcome this phobia in order to live a full life. The first step to overcoming the fear of vomiting is to go for treatment. It is impossible to fully recover from the fear of vomiting through self-treatment. Moreover, you will need to be more committed to the sessions because you will require more time to recover from Emetophobia than you would need to overcome other fears.
Secondly, it is necessary to have moral and social support from family and friends. Since Emetophobia affects a person’s social life and can lead to complete isolation, it is paramount to have a support system that understands your struggle and will offer their help and support whenever they can.
Last but not least, it is good that you be patient with yourself. It takes time to overcome the fear of vomiting but it will eventually pen out. Give yourself space to fail even after a couple of treatment sessions but remain committed to the process.
Emetophobia can take a toll on a person’s life. It affects every aspect of their life. It is imperative that an individual does what is necessary to overcome this fear or end up living a frustrated and unfulfilling life.