What is Emetophobia?

Emetophobia is the proper name for the fear or phobia of vomiting. Emetophobia, like all phobias, is a form of anxiety. The fear of vomiting might seem like an unusual or strange phobia but in fact it’s extremely common. It’s impossible to say accurately how many people suffer with any specific phobia, because not everyone seeks treatment. But if you look at google searches, there are on average 18,100 monthly searches for emetophobia, compared to 6,600 for fear of spiders, 4,400 for fear of needles, and 5,400 for fear of snakes. Spiders, snakes and needles are three of the most common phobias and yet vomiting phobia is being googled around three times more often!

More women than men have emetophobia – an estimated 7% – and between 2 and 3% of men struggle with this phobia.The fact that emetophobia isn’t talked about as much as other phobias leads to a sense of isolation. You feel that other people wouldn’t understand.

What are the different types of Emetophobia?

There are different ways you may suffer emetophobia (or vomiting phobia). It’s not just the fear of being sick. It can take one or more of the following forms

  • fear of feeling sick
  • fear of being sick
  • fear of seeing or hearing someone else being sick
  • fear of being sick in public
  • fear of places and things associated with vomiting

Many people’s flying phobia is really a phobia about feeling or being sick on a plane or of someone else being sick in front of them. Other forms of transport can also bring on vomiting phobia. You may avoid boats, planes and travelling by road because your fear of feeling sick or seeing or hearing someone else being sick. The thought of you or someone else vomiting causes you stress and anxiety and can cause you to panic. If you have social anxiety (shyness) the fear of panicking in front of others can cause further anxiety, embarrassment and self-consciousness.

The Effects of Emetophobia

Emetophobia can be harder to deal with than many other phobias, as it effects so many different parts of your life. You may avoid travelling in coaches, buses or cars, in case you feel sick or someone else is sick in front of you; you may avoid places that you associate with other people being sick, such as bars, pubs, clubs and public toilets (where you assume many people have been sick). You may avoid eating out – even at someone else’s house – because you can’t be sure how carefully the food has been prepared. You may fear germs, which might cause you to get ill and be sick. Many women with emetophobia are too afraid to get pregnant because they fear morning sickness. Others refuse to take medication which they may desperately need, because they read that the side effects may include vomiting.

What causes Emetophobia?

Like other phobias, emetophobia can be caused by an event in your childhood or more recent past – such as being sick at school or on a coach trip, or stuck in a queue of traffic when you felt sick. Being sick when you’re a small child is very frightening and confusing – you don’t understand what is happening. Or perhaps you saw a parent, brother or sister, or someone else important to you, being sick, and this was very worrying and upsetting.

But not every phobia is caused by one specific event in the past. There may be no one specific incident which triggered your emetophobia – but if you are generally someone who tends to suffer with stress, anxiety and worry, then you may attach these feelings of anxiety to specific situation. Fortunately, not many people feel anxious about absolutely everything – we usually have just a few particular things which always make us anxious. Maybe your mum or dad was always anxious in the car, or when flying, or in crowded places. You learnt to associate anxiety with these situations. Your body produces adrenalin when you’re anxious (there’s more info on this in the next paragraph, about the flight or fight response). So your body produces adrenalin whenever you’re in a car/plane/crowd, because you’ve learn to associate these situations with feeling anxious. And one of the functions of adrenalin is to make you feel sick! So then you learn to associate feeling sick with being in a car/plane/crowd.

Though there is not necessarily a childhood cause, many cases of emetophobia do start in adolescence, around the time when many people go through a phase of feeling self conscious and easily embarrassed – what is sometimes called social anxiety. Anything that makes you anxious can cause you to feel sick because when you’re anxious you produce adrenalin, and adrenalin can make you feel sick! So if you felt sick when you first went to a party, you learn to associate the thought of feeling sick with going to parties. On top of this, this thought of feeling sick at the next party you go to makes you anxious and fearful- which makes your body produce adrenalin, which can then make you feel sick! It’s a vicious circle.

Feeling sick is part of the “flight or fight response”

The flight or fight response is when the body produces adrenalin in response to you feeling threatened or anxious. More information on this can be found on the page about panic attacks. Anxiety about being or feeling sick means the phobia builds – you feel anxious about a car journey (or going to a party), because you felt sick the last time. This makes the body produce adrenalin – and one of the effects of adrenalin is to tell the body to empty the stomach (so you can defend yourself by running away, or fighting more efficiently). So you feel sick. You start to associate the thought of car journeys (or going to a party) with being sick. You feel afraid of car journeys or going to parties. So your body produces adrenalin; which in turn makes you feel sick. And so it goes on and on.

  • When flying
  • Lifts
  • Tunnels
  • MRI scanners
  • at the dentist
  • Buses
  • Trams
  • Trains
  • Cars
  • Crowds
  • Coaches
  • Rooms with no windows
  • Cinemas and theatres
  • Supermarkets and shops

Emetophobia can affect you in places where it’s difficult to find a toilet, such as pubs, bars, shopping centres, the cinema, or in a supermarket queue. It can happen when you are having to wait, or when you are stuck in traffic. The thought of not being able to find a toilet makes you feel panicky and anxious, which makes you feel sick. It can happen when you are nervous at the thought of meeting new people, or speaking in public, or going to an interview. You then become anxious about feeling sick, which makes you feel even more sick. You may also feel claustrophobic in crowds, such as in a concert, club or restaurant.

Vomiting phobia in pubs, clubs, restaurants and crowds

If you have emetophobia you’ll find it hard to relax or feel at ease when you are in places you associate with vomiting, such as pubs, bars or toilets other than the one at home. How much this effects you can range from mild inconvenience – only being able to go to the loo at home before you leave, turning down the offer of a lift in someone’s car – to complete inability to do the things you want to do – refusing to have a social life because you may be exposed to people drinking alcohol, or to food which you can’t control the cleanliness of. You may be unable to travel, to consider the idea of having a baby, or to meet new people because you fear the sickness you associate these situations. You may be unable to visit friends or relatives in hospital because you fear coming into contact with people who may be sick.

Emetophobia sufferers may also suffer from other phobias, such as phobia of lifts, (claustrophobia), phobia of germs, fear of strangers, phobia of flying and other forms of transport . If you have emetophobia you probably feel generally anxious. Emetophobia can also lead to insomnia – lying awake because you are worried about travelling or socialising the next day – and social embarassment.

Symptoms of Emetophobia

These can include

  • Panic Attacks
  • Palpitations or a racing heart
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling, or being, sick
  • Stomach “flipping over”
  • Diahhroea or upset stomach
  • Needing the loo
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth or jaw
  • Restlessness and/or twitching
  • Muscular tension
  • Aching muscles, particular the neck, shoulders and back
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Emetophobia Treatment in Manchester

At Manchester Hypnotherapy we are specialists in all areas of anxiety. We work extensively with a wide range of phobias, and emetophobia is one of the most common we see. If you’d like to conquer your phobia, then hypnotherapy is an effective, safe emetophobia treatment. Hypnosis is proven to be one of the best natural remedies for anxiety.

Pam Newbury and her team of hypnotherapists are highly regarded, experienced hypnotherapists based in Didsbury, south Manchester. All all fully qualified, registered and insured. They are expert in treating fear of flying, anxiety, panic, and insomnia using hypnosis, hypnotherapy, relaxation techniques and teaching self hypnosis.

If you are looking for hypnosis in Hale, Stockport, Chorlton, Altrincham or Bowden, or want to find a hypnotherapist in south Manchester to cure emetophobia, help stress and anxiety, emotional problems such as insecuritytinnitus or to build confidence, then you can check any of the websites (all are independent and individually verify each review) which list and give reviews of hypnotherapists (for example www.freeindex.co.uk – Google also has its own reviews) and you will see the excellent results which the Manchester Hypnotherapy team have achieved. If you would like further information about hypnosis in Manchester, for insomnia and other sleeping difficulties, confidence and self esteem, for phobia treatment (we specialise in phobias such as claustrophobia, and fear of needles), depression, for help with weight loss, to break bad habits, or for any other problem, please call the anxiety and phobia specialists on 07779 575 816 for a free, confidential discussion.

Get rid of your emetophobia for good. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy in Didsbury, Chorlton, Hale, Altrincham, Bowden, Stockport, Cheadle, Northenden, Gatley and the Heatons, and all areas of south and central Manchester.