Emetophobia is a condition that is not widely diagnosed even though it is a fairly prevalent anxiety disorder. Furthermore, despite being a common anxiety disorder, not a lot is known about how many people it effects. What is known, however, is that more women have a fear of vomiting than men. An estimated 1.7-3.1% of males and 6-7% of females experience emetophobia.
Those with emetophobia have a fear of vomiting or seeing others being sick. They may also fear the feeling of being out of control while they are being sick or fear being sick in public which can trigger avoidance behaviours.
Emetophobia varies enormously in how it effects suffers; most worry excessively about being sick even though they are less likely than the general population to be sick because of all the steps they take to avoid being ill. For instance, suffers may be unable to leave home if there are any tummy bugs going around and they will avoid family and friends who have an illness. This can present quite a dilemma for mothers who can experience extreme panic if their child is ill and will feel terrified if they are actually sick. Many sufferers will also have a strict diet which is free from anything that might cause a stomach upset and some will avoid medications which list nausea as a side-effect. Many women will also dread the thought of being pregnant because of concerns about coping with ‘morning-sickness’.
Emetophobia Fact Sheet
To find out more information about emetophobia, click here to download a copy of our fact sheet.
The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust has produced two helpful scales for measuring symptoms of emetophobia which sufferers might find helpful to use when they see someone for help. These can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:
How we can help
Anxiety UK is a user-led charity with more than forty years experience in supporting those living with anxiety. By becoming a member of Anxiety UK, you will have access to a range of benefits, including:
- Access to reduced cost therapy within two weeks of submitting your therapy request
- Access to our helpline (available Monday-Friday, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm) staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety
- Receipt of four issues of Anxious Times, our quarterly members” magazine
- Access to the members only section of our website, featuring regular support surgeries facilitated by anxiety experts
- Access to specialist helplines, including the psychiatric pharmacy helpline and the psychology information helpline
And many, many other benefits that will help you manage your anxiety long term. To become a member of Anxiety UK click here or ring 08444 775 774 today.
The Anxiety UK site has information on a range of resources to provide more detailed information and help.
Living with Emetophobia is available to purchase from the Anxiety UK online shop. To find out more please click here.
Emetophobia, the extreme fear of vomiting, can affect just about every aspect of sufferer’s life, from everyday considerations (‘what food will be “safe” for me to eat?’) to matters that involve making huge, potentially devastating decisions (‘I can’t have this baby, I can’t face morning sickness’). Nicolette Heaton-Harris has first-hand experience of the phobia and its effects. She suggests strategies for coping with the high levels of anxiety that are intrinsic to the phobia, as well as pre-empting and avoiding anxiety attacks.
Louise, Anxiety UK member
Anxiety UK published a fact sheet, CD and audio tape which deals with Emetophobia and is available by clicking here.
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Do you suffer from emetophobia and want to share your experience with other people? Post your personal experience in the comments box below where it will be sent to our moderator for approval. Many people find this part of the site very useful when trying to understand their disorder so your comments really do make a difference. Please note, all comments submitted to the Anxiety UK website may be used by Anxiety UK for (but not limited to) publicity and promotional material.