Vomit Phobia – Fear of Vomiting (Emetophobia)

Flu season will be quickly upon us and with it comes an unfortunate increase in the likelihood of experiencing fevers, coughs, runny noses, vomiting, and the like. Although no one enjoys being sick, this time of year poses particular challenges for individuals suffering from “vomit phobia”, or emetophobia, the fear of throwing up. The fear of vomiting can affect individuals of all ages. It sometimes emerges in childhood and, if untreated, may follow a relatively chronic course. However, it can also develop well into adulthood, sometimes taking root after a negative health experience (e.g., after getting food poisoning or after experiencing an episode of severe or uncontrolled vomiting). Vomit Phobia in Children and Teens Consequences associated with the fear of throwing up can be extreme. In children, vomit phobia can lead to school refusal and avoidance. Academic performance may suffer, and children may miss out on certain developmentally important social milestones. If a child or teenager is afraid of getting nauseous or throwing up, he or she may avoid birthday parties, sleepovers, dating, and eating out at restaurants. Missing out on these activities can affect relationships and impact social development, which may lead to chronic social impairments. Even when longstanding social problems do not develop, children with vomit phobia still experience a great deal of unhappiness, fear, anxiety, and distress. Fear of Vomiting in Adults Adults with the fear of vomiting may also be significantly impaired by their symptoms. They may have more absences from work and may avoid work-related travel, which can affect opportunities for advancement. They will often dread meetings, during which they may feel trapped and uncomfortable, and may avoid certain job responsibilities like public-speaking or presenting. ┬áThis can leave otherwise bright and capable individuals stagnating in jobs that are beneath their true capabilities. Vomit phobia also affects travel for leisure and dining out, and can wreak havoc on romantic relationships. Women with the fear of vomiting may experience extreme distress at the thought of becoming pregnant and experiencing morning sickness. Women with the fear of morning sickness may delay starting families, and some may choose to never have children at all due to the fear of recurrent vomiting during pregnancy. Clearly, this can have profound and lasting effects on one’s life. What is Emetophobia? Emetophobia is defined as an excessive or irrational fear about the act, or possibility, of vomiting. However, this relatively straightforward definition...
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Health-Related Anxiety: Symptoms, Disorders, & Treatment

Think about the most significant health scare you have ever experienced. Then multiply this experience by a factor of about 10. Unfortunately, this is a daily reality for many individuals suffering from health-related anxiety, a debilitating condition that can have devastating effects on one’s mood, relationships, and ability to function in academic and professional settings. What is health anxiety? Health-related anxiety is a general term that refers to intense fear or worry about one’s physical health. Fear about illness (or potential illness) might develop in situations in which an individual has a diagnosed medical illness. These health conditions might include: a diagnosed, progressive medical condition (e.g., worry about advancing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease). a diagnosed medical condition that requires management and/or health behavior changes (e.g., anxiety following a diagnosis of diabetes or after experiencing a heart attack). a diagnosed chronic medical condition (e.g., worry about learning how to manage chronic pain). a diagnosed, single episode medical condition (e.g., fear about the reoccurrence of an injury). If you have never experienced serious physical illness, the impact of an unexpected health scare may be difficult to appreciate fully. Serious illness can highlight your own mortality and profoundly alter your worldview. A life that previously felt long and full of potential comes to feel fragile and tenuous. Confusion, hopelessness, and depression often follow. However, health-related anxiety is not only associated with diagnosed medical conditions. Often, people worry about potentially getting sick or think they may have a disease that has not yet been diagnosed. They might have existing hereditary, lifestyle, or environmental risk factors for cancer or another serious illness; or despite not having major risk factors, they feel especially vulnerable to developing a serious illness. These might include situations in which the individual has: a constellation of unexplained physical symptoms (e.g., aches, pains, nausea, tingling sensations) that might represent a currently undiagnosed medical condition (e.g., worry that one might have cancer, AIDS/HIV, ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, etc. despite not having significant medical signs of the illness). fear of getting sick or experiencing “intolerable” physical symptoms of illness (e.g., intense fear that one would not be able to “handle” symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) in the absence of current symptoms. residual fear about the possible reoccurrence of a disease or illness. fear about catastrophic outcomes that might occur if one were to contract an illness. fear of heightened vulnerability or susceptibility to...
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