What is your reaction when you see vomit on the ground, TV or pictures? Probably ‘yak’ and move on with your life. However, there are some who develop anxiety as they keep replaying images of the vomit in their heads for a long time. This is called emetophobia. Though the problem can start at any age, it is more common in adults.
The bigger problem about emetophobia is that it receives less attention compared to other anxiety disorders. This is one of the reasons why many people who suffer from the disorder take years without getting solutions. Therefore, how much do you know about emetophobia?
This post takes a deeper look of emetophobia to demonstrate what it is, diagnosis and causes. It also outlines natural ways of treating the condition.
What is Emetophobia?
Emetophobia is a specific anxiety that revolves around extreme fear of seeing vomit, vomiting, feeling sick, or watching others vomit. Though it is true that virtually no one likes vomit, the dislike is contained within a very short moment. However, people suffering from emetophobia take a lot of time worrying about the vomit or vomiting even when everyone around them is healthy. A single thought that somebody could vomit can cause major distress.
The unending distress can have serious implications on the affected person’s life. For example, one might find it difficult to eat food from fear that he/she might vomit. In other cases, one might opt to avoid driving because he fears getting carsick and vomiting. Indeed, a large number of people suffering from emetophobia do not like visiting washrooms out of fear that someone there might be vomiting.
In severe cases, fear of vomit can result in miscarriage and abortion. Cases have been reported of mothers who went for abortion from fear of nausea and vomiting.
There are a number of symptoms that indicate you might be suffering from emetophobia. However, it is easy to misdiagnose the problem for stomach upsets and anxiety disorders. For example, some people suffering from anxiety attacks might experience vomiting. When you start realizing that anxiety is the primary cause of emetophobia as opposed to bad food, it becomes easy to address the problem. Here are the common symptoms that indicate you might be suffering from emetophobia.
- Avoiding seeing vomit sections on television or movies. Some people develop intense fear and might close eyes, get away from television, or switch programs.
- Being abscessed with the washroom location. Often, you might fear going to public washrooms from fear that someone is about to vomit.
- Avoiding bad smelling things. Your mind tells you that the odor is likely to cause vomiting.
- Avoiding medical centers and sick people from fear that they might vomit anytime.
- Avoiding taking any food offered away from home from fear that it might cause vomiting.
- Excessive use of antacids to avoid vomiting even when you are not suffering from stomach upsets.
- Inability to vividly describe words such as vomiting or vomit.
- Avoiding places where you have felt sick before.
- Avoiding or restricting travel, school, social activities, and work.
- Monitoring your body excessively from fear that you are sick and could end up vomiting.
- Engaging in excessive hand-washing and food preparation.
- Refusing to shake hands with others from fear of getting germs that can result in vomiting.
- Throwing food that has not even reached the expiry date.
Causes of Emetophobia
Today, the scientific community appears in agreement that emetophobia does not have a specific cause. In most of the cases, the problem starts with some form of childhood fear that does not go away. Think of a traumatic scene that is witnessed by a young child.
The subconscious mind (call it a person’s body protector) seeks the best way to prevent the incident from repeating itself. Then, it attaches negative feelings/ emotions to vomit or vomiting. In future, the subconscious mind teaches you to stay away from some situations that can result in vomiting.
The incident you experienced as a kid is replayed wrongly such that you develop phobia on any sight of vomit, just like you did when three years old.
The good thing about emetophobia is that no matter the cause, it is possible to overcome it. Take a closer look at the next section to learn how to overcome the disorder naturally.
How to overcome (naturally)
Once you start seeing the symptoms of emetophobia, you need to focus on addressing it. However, you will realize that most of treatments recommended out there rarely works. Besides, the condition has received less focus and many people often get the wrong diagnosis. Here is an account of how to overcome emetophobia naturally.
To make treatment easy and successful, it is prudent to start by understanding that anxiety happens in the mind and does not have any relationship to the stomach.
Start by understanding how your body works
Understanding how your body works is one of the top methods of overcoming emetophobia. Your body is designed to ensure you remain safe all the time. Therefore, why fear vomiting? The fear of emetophobia arises from subconscious attachments of negative feelings to vomit or vomiting. However, vomit is after all not bad because the body is getting rid of bad or incompatible food you ingested. If you do not vomit, the food could end up harming you!
By understanding that vomiting is like cleansing the body, you will appreciate the process as opposed to developing fear. Well, it might smell bad but the body has just been relieved off harmful toxins. So start changing your negative thoughts and replace them with something positive.
Compare facts and fears about vomiting
One of the main reasons why people suffer from emetophobia is the failure to acknowledge facts. Most of them believe that if they vomit, it will be unbearable and they will need to rush to a hospital. But the arguments are exaggerated.
When you dig some facts about vomiting you will be surprised to notice that it only lasts a very short moment. In fact, the body will be left feeling more relaxed, fresh and energized after vomiting the bad substance that had entered the stomach. Therefore, when the feeling of vomit grips you, it is important to look forward to the positive outcome as opposed to fearing.
Ask yourself one crucial question: What happens next?
When emetophobia grabs your thoughts, the mind is filled with all the bad things that will happen. But, do they? Of course not! Take the case of a pregnant mother in the first trimester. When she feels nausea and vomits (commonly known as morning sickness), what follows is an impressive feeling of relaxation. Therefore, you should look forward to a more relaxed and happier person after vomiting.
Use positive exposure to learn you do not have to avoid anything in life
When you suffer from emetophobia, one of the symptoms is a strong urge to avoid some types of foods, hospitals, saying the term vomit or visiting washrooms. Now, you need to work on exposing yourself to these situations in order to drive the fear away. Well, you do not have to commence right away. Instead, consider starting gradually until you overcome the fear of some situations.
Here are some examples:
- Instead of saying the term vomit, start by using synonyms. Say them regularly and your mind will finally realize that even saying the word ‘vomit’ does not cause you to vomit. So, no need to fear at all!
- Get used to being around vomit. Make some fake vomit using cold canned soup and splash of vinegar. If you feel like throwing up, do it in the washroom. Well, you will get used to the situation and learn that it is not harmful.
- Practice watching people who are sick. You can follow this on Google videos. Here, you will learn that family members, doctors, and the public take care of the sick to help them with recovery. What a great show of kindness! Now, you can look towards similar positivity and no fear will stand on your way.
Eliminate the safety measures adopted for fear of throwing up
Do you carry a plastic bag just in case you vomit? This is the security measure that you need to eliminate. Fill your mind with positive affirmations such as ‘I will not vomit’ to enjoy your ride or mingle with others without fear.
Use programs that can help to train you overcome anxiety
Though most therapies out there have been proven not to work, there are still some great options you can try. One of these options that have been proven to work is the Emetophobia Recovery System. This program is a detailed guide that helps people to understand emetophobia and how to overcome the cycle of fear. It demonstrates that fear only exists in the mind and that any person can defeat it.
If you have emetophobia, it can wreck your life because anxiety grips your mind with mere thoughts of vomit or sickly person. Although the problem might have started from your childhood, you can overcome it naturally. Make sure to use the outlined remedies to overcome and live emetophobia free life.