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  • What is emetophobia?

    Most people would be freely admit to wanting to avoid vomiting. However, for some, the possibility of vomiting induces intense mental distress. Emetophobia is the psychiatric term for an intense fear of vomiting. It is a phobia that leads people to avoid any foods, activities, or situations that could expose people to the risk of throwing up. Recently, users of the social media platform TikTok have brought attention to the condition by describing their personal experiences and using the hashtag #emetophobia. Journalist Sara Moniuszko recently wrote an article in USA Today discussing the phobia.

    How does emetophobia start?

    Moniuszko interviewed an emetophobia expert, who suggested that people with the phobia already have a predisposition to anxiety. The development of the condition also often involves an experience in childhood involving seeing someone vomit under very distressing circumstances. This creates an association between vomit and intense feelings of not only disgust but also anxiety.

    How does emotephobia impact people’s lives?

    Moniuszko reported that people with this condition might restrict their diet and alcohol consumption, excessively check the expiration dates on their food, and avoid activities that might lead to motion sickness such as traveling by car, boat, or plane. This avoidance impedes their ability to function in their daily lives leading to shame and depression.

    How do you treat emetophobia?

    Moniuszko interviewed someone who suffered from the condition and stated that exposure therapy was her “saving grace” and encouraged other to seek help from a professional. Exposure therapy is cognitive behavioral approach that helps people to tolerate distress and engage in activities they would normally avoid.

    If you would like to find out how exposure therapy can help you contact us to set up a free phone consultation.

    Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He provides online therapy (telehealth) by way of the Torrance office and is available for a free initial phone consultation. Dr. von Stietz works with individuals from Long Beach, the greater Los Angeles area, and the South Bay including Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and all over California.