Emetophobia: The Fear of Vomit Causes and Cures Steve Rikard www.EmetophobiaRecovery.org
What is Emetophobia?Emetophobia is an extreme and irrational fear of vomiting. Emetophobesexperience intense anxiety over thoughts of themselves vomiting, othersvomiting in their vicinity, or simply seeing vomit. This is one of the mostcommon phobias in the world, but it is also a phobia which very few peopleknow about.The fear of vomiting often spreads to become a fear of any situation withwhich vomiting may be associated with. Examples of this include: • Consuming alcohol or being around others who are consuming alcohol • Avoid eating unhealthy foods</li> • Excessive cleanliness</li> • Avoid eating in public or anywhere outside of their own home • Avoid traveling by any means which might cause motion sickness • Being in the vicinity of young toddlers • Avoid anyone who is sick or may be sick, including family members • Avoid infants • Be afraid of pregnancy and the morning sickness that is associated with it • Avoid hospitals or any place where sick people might be • NightmaresIn many emetophobes, these behaviors are taken to extremes, such asobsessive checking of food expiration dates, eating only fruits andvegetables, or an inability to take care of their own children. These fears canbe extremely debilitating, and greatly harm the emetophobe’s social lifeEmetophobia has also been associated with a fear of not being in control.This originates from viewing vomiting as something that strips you ofcontrol over your own body. Of all things you can lose control of, losingcontrol of your own body might seem the most personal, so vomiting may beavoided at all costs.
What Causes Emetophobia?Most phobias, including emetophobia, usually develop from childhoodexperiences that severely traumatized the individual. When a young childexperiences a trauma, their brain takes action to prevent that situation fromoccurring again. In the case of a traumatic incident involving vomit, thebrain can imbue the individual with a fear of vomit in order to protect them.The act of vomiting itself may not have been what caused the trauma.Rather, the conditions surrounding the act of vomiting may have been whatwas traumatic. For example, an individual may have thrown up during asevere storm in which they had lost electricity to their house. Thefrightening circumstances of storm become associated with the act ofvomiting in the individual’s mind, and thus the individual develops a fear ofvomiting.In addition, parents can be a large factor in the development of emetophobiain children. Parents who suffer from emetophobia often find themselvesunable to take care of their children when they are sick. Children whoobserve their parent’s fear of vomiting can develop the same fear as a result.For other people, emetophobia can result from an unusual lack of vomitingas a child. At a young age most kids vomit on a regular basis and becomeaccustomed to it. But a child who does not vomit much may not becomeaccustomed to it, and may develop a fear of it later in life.Emetophobes are also known to develop other fears caused by emetophobia.These could include fear of germs, a fear of gagging, and claustrophobia.It is important to remember that you are not born with emetophobia. Just asyou developed emetophobia in the first place, it is also possible to cureemetophobia.
How Do You Cure Emetophobia?Anti-EmeticsAnti-emetics are both prescription and non-prescription drugs that helpsuppress nausea, and the need to vomit. They are typically used to fightvertigo, motion sickness, and morning sickness. Like any medicine, anti-emetics have the risk of side-effects, and some people prefer certain anti-emetics to others. Common anti-emetics include:Anxiety MedicationAt its core, emetophobia is an anxiety disorder with vomit and nausea as thespecific trigger. Because of the obsessive nature of a phobia, manyemetophobes cause themselves more harm than help by worrying. Obsessiveanxiety can cause the opposite of a placebo effect, causing people to worrythemselves into feeling sick, even if there are not physical triggers to makethem sick..Desensitization/Exposure TreatmentDesensitization is a process of progress exposure to things that triggeranxiety/fear. While it can be detrimental to expose someone to a drastictrigger, using this in a slow and controlled manner can help people overcomefears.For example, you might expose yourself to a sentence about vomit, then to apicture of stick figures feeling sick, then to a cartoon picture of someoneabout to get sick., and then further. This takes place with many more steps,subtly, over a long period of time, exercising proper techniques to calmyourself and fight fear.Cognitive Behavioral TherapyCognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is the standard professionalapproach to treating all anxiety disorders. CBT typically uses controlleddesensitization with a professional therapist and analyzes the thoughts andfeelings that influence behaviors.
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