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You know the terror and reaction is out of all proportion to the actual trigger but you simply can't help it. I know, because I had acute arachnophobia myself. Somehow able to climb up a wardrobe or jump on a table, without even knowing how, in those blinding moments of sheer panic.

Whatever you are scared of, the way to normalise the extreme, irrational fear is the same. I've helped people who couldn't even go to a restaurant, eat out, touch a snake, go in a lift or cable car, leave the house, climb a ladder, see a spider, eat an apple, get on a bus, use a public toilet, amongst others.

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Emetophobia, or the fear of vomiting, is a specific phobia that affects millions of people around the world. While this condition is not as well-known as other anxiety disorders, it can have a profound impact on an individual's life, including their work, social life, and overall well-being. In this article, we will discuss what emetophobia is, its causes, symptoms, and possible treatment options.

What is Emetophobia?

Emetophobia is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by an intense fear of vomiting or seeing someone else vomit. This fear can lead to avoidance behaviors, such as avoiding public places or situations where vomiting is more likely to occur. Emetophobia can manifest in different ways for different people, but common symptoms include excessive worrying about the possibility of vomiting, experiencing physical sensations like nausea or stomach discomfort when exposed to triggers, and panic attacks.

Causes of Emetophobia

The exact cause of emetophobia is not well understood. However, research suggests that it may be related to past experiences with vomiting, such as a traumatic event involving vomiting or witnessing someone else vomiting. Other factors that may contribute to emetophobia include a family history of anxiety disorders, a history of other phobias, and a tendency towards anxiety or sensitivity to bodily sensations.

Symptoms of Emetophobia

Emetophobia can cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms, including:

  • Fear or anxiety when exposed to vomit or situations that could lead to vomiting

  • Avoidance of certain foods or situations that are perceived as potential triggers

  • Panic attacks or extreme anxiety when exposed to triggers

  • Nausea or stomach discomfort when exposed to triggers or when thinking about vomiting

  • Obsessive thoughts or worries about vomiting

Treatment for Emetophobia

The good news is that emetophobia can be successfully treated with a variety of methods. Treatment may involve therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Here are some of the most effective treatment options for emetophobia:

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. For emetophobia, CBT may involve exposure therapy, where the person is gradually exposed to situations or stimuli that trigger their fear of vomiting. Through exposure therapy, individuals can learn to desensitize themselves to these triggers and develop coping skills to manage their anxiety.

  2. Medication: Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms of emetophobia. These medications can help regulate the brain's chemical balance and reduce feelings of anxiety or panic.

  3. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): MBSR is a type of meditation that helps individuals learn to focus on the present moment and develop a more relaxed and accepting mindset. For emetophobia, MBSR may help reduce obsessive thoughts or worries about vomiting.

  4. Self-help techniques: In addition to professional treatment, there are several self-help techniques that can be helpful for managing emetophobia, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization exercises.


Emetophobia can be a challenging condition to live with, but with the right treatment, individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and live a full and fulfilling life. If you or someone you know is struggling with emetophobia, it's important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional who can provide guidance and support. With the right resources and tools, individuals can overcome their fear of vomiting and move forward with confidence and resilience.


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