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Emetophobia ruining my life

Community Member

Hi guys, I am new here. I am from New Zealand but I have family over here and visit often. We sadly do not have a “beyond blue” in NZ. I am in Aus right now, wishing I could enjoy my holiday instead of being anxious.

Wanting to know if anyone here suffers from specific phobia anxiety, in particular, emetophobia? This is a fear of vomiting.

I’ve been trapped with this phobia since the day I can remember. I have been in proper help for 6 years, I’m on very good medication, but it still disables me very much.

A lot of people I open up to about this say “nobody likes vomiting”. But it’s not that simple. I am terrified of food, of eating, drinking, touching surfaces, taking medication where nausea is a side effect, travelling- I have very avoidant behaviours. I can not touch other people. I do all I can to avoid the possibility of catching an illness or getting poisoned. I think my own Mum is trying to poison me. I am always on the brink of a panic attack and just waiting for the trigger.

This phobia gets better and worse over time, but right now it is very much “worse”. I am severely underweight and although I am an adult I look like a 12 year old.

I am constantly obsessing over food and hygiene. I spend hours reading food labels. I can’t eat at restaurants/takeaways. I cannot travel with other people. I take unnecessary anti-nausea medication and go through a lot of hand sanitiser.

This phobia is absolutely crippling, moreso because it’s unavoidable. You cannot avoid eating, or your own body. I am wanting to know if anyone else out there understands what it is like? or anyone with a phobia, anxiety or OCD in general.

Thank you for reading, I’m sorry it’s so long. Hope to hear from people soon, I am still figuring out how this website works.

Thank you-


12 Replies 12

Community Member


I have emetophobia as well and yes it is hard. But at the moment it almost feels as if I've overcome it.

I'm sure you have tried a lot of things already but here is a list of things which helped me get over emetophobia in case it helps in the slightest.

- If you aren't already (although you most likely already are), see a therapist who can help with this

- I used exposure therapy. This involved firstly cooking with raw eggs, then very slowly to raw chicken. If you notice OCD type behaviour eg washing your hands, try and take baby steps if you can. For example, instead of washing your hands for 30 seconds, wash them for five. Or ten/twenty. And work your way to cutting back on washing your hands. That may help

- Whenever I feel anxious, I would use this app called smiling mind. And then I started using it daily as it trains you to feel calm on command and it is so helpful.

- Sometimes when worrying you spiral into irrational thoughts. Like I would think the most irrational thoughts like milk being in the fridge only one night being off. If you can notice this irrationality you can sometimes switch your brain to think rationally. Yours may be your mum trying to poison you? Things like that i guess. This sometimes requires some coaching, however, but try it

- Definitely tell someone you are close to how you are feeling. I was so reluctant at first and it was so dumb of me because i suffered my panic attacks alone, when my mum could actually help me because she had a fear of fainting as a kid and could always help me in panic attacks, but i didnt know this for a long time. If you can, find someone who can help you when you are worried because panic attacks alone suck.

- One of the first strategies I tried which helped me at the start was picturing my anxiety as a ball. It sounds dumb but my therapist showed it to me and it helped a lot. Basically, you picture shape, texture, size, weight, colour and everything you can. You put all your energy into focusing on this and it can make you calmer. Try practicing this when not feeling too anxious at first if you want

- I read somewhere that a big step is to stop carrying sanitizer and antacids everywhere. Maybe make that your ultimate goal?

I really hope that helps. I know it's a really horrible phobia to have because it feels like its always there. And it feels like there is no escape during panic attacks. But you will definately get over this trust me! Good luck and have a good holiday here in australia!

Hey matt!

Yeah it really sucks. But I think I had a similar type as you. I wasn't too bad generally but when i was worried it was the worst. If you see my other post there are some tips as to what can help 🙂

If you dont have a therapist, definately try and get one. I used the school therapist who was so nice and helpful. Just know that emetophobia does go away eventually. It doesn't seem like it at first but it really does. I hope my notes help 🙂

Community Member

Hey buddy,

Thanks for sharing your story. Just wanted to chime in because we are similar ages. I really struggled with emetophobia in my youth and teenage years. Let me tell the young people here, this thing sucks now - but imagine having it 30 years ago when nobody talked about mental illness barely at all, and certainly not something as relatively rare as emetophobia. There was no internet to look it up. As a young boy I had no tools or resources to begin to describe the panic and trauma I was going through daily, over the prospect of vomiting in public. So I just suffered in silence and tried to hide it. Shame on top of fear of shame. I’m glad we all have better access to help now.