Emetophobia- All You Need To Know
Emetophobia, also known as fear of vomit is something many people know about. Have you ever see a person vomiting in front of you which made you want to throw up instantly? can this be emetophobia? Let’s see
Phobia means fear of something, we are familiar with this term. Emetophobia is a specific type of phobia in people that involves an extreme fear of seeing vomit, vomiting, watching someone else vomit, or feeling ill.
Generally, no one likes to vomit or see someone else vomit and it is pretty natural. But disliking vomiting to a certain extent and thinking about it at the moment is common, you do not have to worry about it. People having emetophobia on the other hand spends a lot of time and energy to think and worry about vomit, even if no one in their surroundings is sick. Just a thought in their mind that someone is going to vomit or could vomit generates a type of fear and intense distress in them. It is not healthy for them.
This distress can have a huge impact on their daily routine and their life eventually. For instance, people will be afraid to eat anything that they feel might end up causing them to vomit or they might void driving or even get inside a car due to the fear of vomiting or emetophobia. Not only these two things, but people also stay away from bathrooms in public places and control themselves out of emetophobia or their fear.
Although this condition seems quite overwhelming, it is completely treatable. You just need a therapist that can help you throughout the process.
Let’s see some of the common symptoms by which you can figure out if you have emetophobia or not.
Symptoms Of Emetophobia
Once you develop emetophobia you are most likely to avoid places and situations where someone might throw up anytime. You will have the thought at the back of your mind about someone or something related to vomiting.
You might also find people building and creating scenarios in your mind to avoid getting into such places, parties, or another such circumstance.
Some other behavioral characteristics that point to having emetophobia are:
- Eliminating food items that are generally associated with vomiting for them.
- Eating very little food at a time and eating slowly. Some people also tend to eat only at home.
- Checking food by smelling it first to make sure it is not infected or bad even if it is fresh.
- Avoiding or not touching things that could have bacterias and germs that might lead to illness for example flushes or toilet seats, public computers, doorknobs, handrails, etc.
- Washing everything frequently like dishes, hands, food items, food preparation tools.
- Avoiding alcohol or consuming medications that could lead to nausea.
- They tend to avoid traveling to schools, parties, or any public transportation. This includes crowded places as well.
- Having issues with breathing, increased heartbeat, feeling tightness in the chest, etc at the thought of vomiting.
These behaviors are also accompanied by symptoms related to mental health like:
- Fear of seeing someone else vomit.
- Fear of throwing up and not be able to find a bathroom for vomiting.
- Fear of not being able to vomit.
- Panic at the thoughts of not being able to get rescued from the crowded place if someone else vomits.
- Distress and extreme anxiety when they feel nausea or think about vomit.
- Ittraional and persistent thoughts that are linked to any previous experience related to vomiting for example avoiding some clothes that they have previously worn on which they threw up.
You have to keep in mind that many people go through different phobias like emetophobia in several ways. People with some phobias are usually aware that the way they are reacting to something is not usually a typical way to react. For example, people in spite of knowing that this is not the way to react still react in such a way and avoid getting in contact or eating things that remind them of vomiting.
Most people do not know about this fear and often experience it. It may also lead to feeling ashamed and people tend to guard their symptoms against others.
What Are The Causes
The causes of emetophobia also vary. Some specific causes that might lead to the issue include an incident or accident that involved fear of something. When emetophobia occurs, the causes of incidents that lead an individual to it are:
- Getting extremely ill while being in public places.
- Having bad cases of dealing with food poisoning.
- Seeing other people throw up or vomit.
- Having a person vomit of them
- Having panic attacks while the person is vomiting.
These are certain causes that you can recall if you think you have emetophobia. However, some people have emetophobia without any clear reason or cause behind it. Leading experts have to say that the environment a person lives in and their genetics also play a vital role in deciding emetophobia.
For instance, if your family history has some ongoing phobias or other anxiety disorders then you are more likely or more prone to getting emetophobia.
It often begins when a person is in a childhood state. Most people who have developed emetophobia when asked about it, do not even remember how they got it or the triggering event that made them emetophobic.
If you do not know the experience that led you to emetophobia, do not get scared because that does not stop you from getting the right treatment done.
Extreme anxiety or fear around any object or a situation is typically diagnosed as a phobia when it starts causing distress that can affect an individual negatively and then affect your work life or school life.
Some other criteria related to emetophobia include:
- Actively avoiding situations that might involve vomiting
- Symptoms that even lay for 6 months or beyond.
- Significant anxiety and fear in response to vomiting.
Some of the main symptoms that are related to emetophobia include obsessive-compulsive disorder. To many people, fear might first be seen as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Emetophobia might also appear closer to agoraphobia. It is a type of anxiety disorder in which people are afraid of certain situations or places same as people worried about vomiting in emetophobia. The fear related to vomiting and seeing someone else vomit is extremely strong. It even leads a person to panic which makes it difficult or next to impossible for them to leave their house. But, if you are avoiding places only because you are scared of someone vomiting, you will be diagnosed using emetophobia and, not agoraphobia.
Treatment For Emetophobia
Not all phobias require specific treatments to get rid of. Sometimes people themselves find ways to work with their phobias. But some situations or objects they had a fear of like swimming or getting into elevators are easier to avoid than other situations.
If the phobias are highly affecting the quality of your life and putting a stoppage on activities that you love doing or hanging out with people, you may want to seek help from a therapist. Also, if you wish to know how things will be normal and better if you had no phobias, you must get help as they are not impossible to leave behind.
Exposure therapy and certain medications have helped a lot of people dealing with their phobias and reducing the fear to normal. Let’s see what are the treatments involved.
This therapy is believed to be one of the most effective ways or treatments to deal with a specific type of phobia like emetophobia. In exposure therapy, you will be exposing your fear and phobia to the therapist slowly. They will help you through the entire process.
This might require eating new food items in a hotel or restaurant or spinning until you have a feeling of nausea. Once you start trying these things out, you will be provided with certain tricks and techniques to help you in coping up with the feelings of nervousness or anxiety. You will also be able to deal with the fear during exposure.
If this sounds good to you and you believed you need to get rid of it, you may consider systemic desensitization. It is a kind of exposure therapy that involves dealing with and tackling all the fears you have. You will be exposed to your fears multiple times during the interval of this therapy.
CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another type of therapy that helps in identifying the phobia and challenging negative thoughts related to it that are a cause of distress.
CBT for some specific phobias also needs exposure to them. As a person is gradually and slowly exposed to their fears, the therapists will work with them to address their distress and anxiety which they face when they think about vomiting and learning ways to deal with it on their own.
A study performed in 2016 involved 24 people having emetophobia that was suggested CBT as a treatment. This was really beneficial for many people involved.
While medication does not directly deal with controlling specific types of phobias, or work against a phobia to remove it, certain drugs and medications may help you with reducing the symptoms of panic or anxiety while you are dealing with your fears.
One such drug is Beta-blockers. This will prevent the heart rate and blood pressure to increase. It will also prevent symptoms of physical anxiety that resulted from adrenaline. The therapist might recommend them to you before you are exposed to your fears during the course of therapy. You may also consume them if you feel you are getting into a situation that might trigger the phobia. You need to consult a doctor or therapist before proceeding with this medication or any other medication.
There are sedatives too that can be useful in feeling less anxiety such as Benzodiazepines. These sedatives are not usually recommended for use or long-term usage because they are addictive. You don’t want to gain other addictions while getting rid of your previous phobias, right?
Another drug named DCS or D-cycloserine may also provide benefit while used during the course of therapy. In 2017 a review was done of different studies looking at people having anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD. This study found that DCS medication was proved to elevate or increase the effects of therapy.
However, these exposure therapies are generally very effective and helped many people get rid of their phobias. Using supplementary products like these medications might not be necessary to use with exposure therapy as it is highly effective on its own.
All you need to do is find a therapist that helps you deal with the phobia. Once you have a good therapist, you will be able to get rid of it in no time. Let’s see what you need to do while you are looking for a therapist.
Finding A Therapist
Finding the right therapist to deal with emetophobia can feel daunting at first, but it does not have to be this way. You have to begin the search for a therapist after asking yourself certain questions like the ones given below:
- What are the issues you want to address? These issues might be very specific or up to a point or they may be vague.
- What are the traits you would want your therapist to have? For instance, are you comfortable with a therapist of another gender or you want someone to be of the same gender? Also, if you want the person to be very soft-spoken or not.
- What is the cost you have decided to spend on every session of your therapy? Like are you looking for someone that offers payment plans or sliding scale prices? You can decide this first.
- Will the therapy fit your work-life schedule? Do you need your therapist to work on specific days of the weekend, or someone taking sessions during the night?
You can also make a list of therapists present in and around your area. Once you find a therapist that fits all the requirements you have short-listed, you will be able to see results pretty soon.
The Bottom Line
Emetophobia can have a huge impact on peoples day to day life and the activities they are involved in. Different treatments involving therapies can help you regain control over it. All you need to do is find the right therapist that may help you as per your needs and phobia.
You should not live with these fears. Try to go for therapy as soon as you can and have better control over your emotions and fears. This will enable you to live a great and normal life without avoiding certain places, situations, or events being afraid.