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Is Emetophobia And Eating Disorder

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How To Get Help

Emetophobia (The fear of being sick)

Eating disorders can lead to serious health outcomes, including dental problems, malnutrition, menstrual irregularities, anxiety, depression, organ failure, and substance use. This is why it is so critical to seek treatment if you are experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder.

There are many different types of treatment available for eating disorders. Treatment typically includes a combination of individual, group, and/or family therapy and nutritional counseling. Treatment is multifaceted and designed to address thoughts, behaviors, coping skills, and lifestyle factors to help people recover.

If you are experiencing disordered eating or suspect that you might have an eating disorder, it is important to seek help as early as possible. Research suggests that early intervention improves the course of recovery and treatment outcomes. Treatment during the early stages of an eating disorder can reduce the detrimental impacts on physical health, increase the effectiveness of recovery, and minimize the need for higher levels of inpatient care.

If you think you might have an eating disorder, talk to your doctor or mental health professional. You can also contact one of the following organizations for more information and support:

Heres Where Treatment Comes In

Treating vomit phobia is best accomplished through cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure and response prevention . Treatment involves correcting faulty beliefs, reducing avoidance, and confronting challenging situations step-by-step. You are given tools, a new perspective, a winning mindset, and a strategy for facing your fears. Your motivation for ending your suffering is important because the therapy does take time, hard work, and courage. You must have self-discipline and determination to win. And if you doyou can beat emetophobia!

Vomiting In Not Dangerous

As much as this might sound silly and nearly ridiculous to most people, to me its one of those big lies my mind has been telling me for as long as I can remember. Most people experience vomiting as a natural body reaction to a bug or to any kind of substance that might be harmful to the body. Vomiting is in fact one of the bodys defence mechanisms and is therefore not dangerous, but actually strictly necessary for our own wellbeing at times.

Emetophobes can have such a control over their body reaction to vomiting that they can stop themselves from doing so even though their body might desperately need it in order to make them feel better. Not knowingly, Emetophobes might be harming themselves far more by resisting to vomit when the body naturally needs it to remove whatever is harming the body. Even though my irrational perception of vomiting is that it might cause me to choke and die , today I rationally know that vomiting is an instinct and shouldnt deserve as much attention as Im giving it.

Ive seen babies vomit and then laugh seconds later showing no signs of any distress. When I get scared I keep telling myself, if babies can do it, so can I. It might sound silly, but believe me, sometimes these silly things can save me from a total meltdown and a full-blown panic attack.

Jelena Mohnani

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Arfid Vs Anorexia Nervosa

ARFID shares many common features with another eating disorder anorexia nervosa. People who suffer from these mental health issues significantly limit the amount or type of food they consume. They both may develop severe malnutrition and behavioral problems. But as opposed to anorexics, ARFID sufferers usually do not have a distorted body image or intense fear of gaining weight. They also tend to have a higher self-esteem and report fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, perfectionism and clinical impairment, according to the Journal of Eating Disorders .

The demographics of these two groups dont tend to overlap either. ARFID affects significantly younger populations, with a much greater proportion of males. It tends to be diagnosed much earlier in life and it may take way longer to develop. Patients with ARFID may struggle more with physical health, phobias, and attention problems than those with anorexia too.

Signs And Symptoms Of Emetophobia

Introducing Emetophobia

Individuals who struggle with emetophobia may exhibit certain signs and symptoms as result of this intense phobia of vomiting. For example, a person with emetophobia may exhibit excessive cleanliness regimes in attempt to prevent himself or herself from getting sick. They may also frequently experience anxiety, especially around public places or certain social events and may avoid being around others all completely.

A person dealing with emetophobia may limit their exposure to several outside activities, such as eating out at restaurants, exposure to children, flying and traveling, or even avoidance of pregnancy due to fear of vomiting. Individuals affected with emetophobia may find that they have difficulty leading a normal life due to their overwhelming phobia of vomit.

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How Can Emetophobia Affect Your Quality Of Life

Emetophobia can affect your quality of life in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, society can, at times, be insensitive towards people, who struggle with phobias. In fact, phobias are often mocked by those, who do not fully understand them. It is important to understand, however, that phobias are real. More specifically, they can trigger panic attacks and severe bouts of anxiety, causing the sufferer to feel alone, depressed, and even more anxious because of the lack of understanding and compassion that often accompanies phobias.

Making and keeping friends can also be challenging for people with emetophobia. The fear of throwing-up in front of friends and family can prevent them from hanging out with them i.e. grabbing lunch, going to a movie, etc. Because, these individuals are almost never available, potenital friends are no longer options. In other words, after a while, these friends move on, leaving you isolated and friendless.

Eating Disorders And Emetophobia

Are you terrified of throwing up? Does this affect your eating? Have you been diagnosed with an eating disorder? Its possible that your eating disorder might really be a phobia.

Just like fear of flying or fear of spiders, a fear of vomiting can be so strong that it becomes a phobia. The specific phobia of vomiting , also referred to as emetophobia, is a serious clinical condition. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition categorizes it as a specific phobia, other subtype.

SPOV involves an intense and irrational fear of vomiting and the avoidance of situations related to vomiting. It can look a lot like an eating disorder, and often co-occurs with one. Many people with a problematic fear of vomiting seek treatment with eating disorder therapists or at eating disorder programs.

Unfortunately, it is believed that a number of people with SPOV are misdiagnosed as having an eating disorder. One study in 2013 showed that many eating disorder specialists may not know about SPOV or recognize it when they see it.

Specific phobia of vomiting has not been well researched. It affects more females than males and commonly develops in childhood or adolescence. The average person with this condition is affected for 25 years before seeking treatment.

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What Causes Nausea And Stomach Pain

Living with emetophobia or generalized anxiety often means experiencing nausea, dizziness, and feelings of sickness. These are some physical signs of panic attacks and many types of anxiety.

For someone with emetophobia, its challenging to see nausea and stomach pain as anxiety symptoms and not signs they may vomit.

It can be a vicious cycle, where the symptoms of emetophobia make the experience worse.

Some clinicians are beginning to

Extreme fear or anxiety around a particular object or situation is typically diagnosed as a phobia when it starts to cause distress that negatively affects your life at home, school, or work.

Other criteria for an emetophobia diagnosis include:

  • a significant fear and anxiety response that happens immediately after seeing or thinking about vomit
  • active avoidance of situations that could involve vomit

Some of the main symptoms of emetophobia involve obsessive-compulsive behavior, so emetophobia might first present as obsessive-compulsive disorder .

Emetophobia can also appear similar to agoraphobia. The fear of vomiting or seeing other people vomit can become so strong that it leads to panic, making it difficult or even impossible to leave your house.

But if your only reason for avoiding public places is a fear of vomit, youll likely be diagnosed with emetophobia, not agoraphobia.

What Is Emetophobia Or Fear Of Vomit

The Truth Behind Fear Of Vomiting

Emetophobia is a specific phobia that involves an extreme fear of vomiting, seeing vomit, watching other people vomit, or feeling sick. People with emetophobia often live with anxiety and engage in behaviors that affect their daily life.

Most people dont like vomiting, but rarely does it overtake their thoughts. People with emetophobia, on the other hand, spend a lot of time worrying about vomiting, even if they or those around them dont feel ill. Just the thought that someone could vomit is sometimes enough to cause intense distress.

This ongoing distress can have a big impact on how you live. For example, you may not eat out, avoid crowded places or travel, avoid new foods, stay away from people who may be sick, or constantly monitor your own health. For many people with emetophobia, the condition influences almost every part of their life.

While the anxiety caused by emetophobia might feel overwhelming, the condition is usually treatable with the help of a therapist.

Having emetophobia means that you likely make significant efforts to avoid being in situations where you or someone else might throw up. You may find yourself building your days around avoiding these scenarios.

Other behaviors that might point to emetophobia include:

These behaviors are accompanied by mental health symptoms, such as:

Keep in mind that people often experience phobias, including emetophobia, in different ways. For example, you may worry more about vomiting yourself than seeing others vomit.

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Symptoms Of Disordered Eating

The symptoms of disordered eating are similar to those of eating disorders. However, these behaviors are less severe or more infrequent, so they do not meet the criteria for the diagnosis of an eating disorder.

So what type of eating behaviors can be defined as disordered? Some examples include:

  • Avoiding certain food groups
  • Skipping meals or fasting
  • Social withdrawal

Disordered eating can also include the use of self-induced compensatory behaviors following eating. This may involve self-induced vomiting, but it can also include other actions like extreme exercise or the use of laxatives or diuretics. Such behaviors may be viewed as disordered if they occur infrequently but would meet the criteria for an eating disorder if they occur at least once a week for a three-month period.

Research indicates that dieting can contribute to disordered eating, which can then cause an eating disorder.

Emotional eating can be a common type of disordered eating. When people experience negative or challenging emotions, they may turn to pleasurable activities, such as eating, to boost their mood and avoid painful feelings. Such eating patterns sometimes begin in childhood and then persist into adulthood.

This can become an unhealthy coping mechanism contributing to further negative feelings. In some cases, overeating might be followed by feelings of shame and guilt.

Relation To Other Disorders

Because specific fear of vomiting shares many features in common with other more well-understood illnesses, it has likely been under-recognized and misdiagnosed. Some disorders with similar symptoms include:

  • Illness anxiety disorder shares many similarities with SPOV, including worrying, reassurance-seeking, and checking behavior about possible infections or food poisoning that could lead to vomiting.
  • The symptoms of SPOV can look like the compulsive handwashing or sanitizing observed in obsessive-compulsive disorder .
  • Both SPOV and panic disorder are characterized by an over-focus on and fear of bodily sensations, which in turn intensifies the sensations.
  • Some people with SPOV have some of the symptoms of social phobia, specifically fear of vomiting in social situations or of others judging them if they get sick.

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Arfid: Warning Signs And Symptoms

According to the National Eating Disorders Association , signs and symptoms of ARFID include:

Behavioral and psychological

  • Dressing in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm
  • Severe restriction in types or amount of food eaten
  • Strong preference for certain flavors or textures of food
  • Fears of choking or vomiting
  • Lack of appetite or interest in food
  • No body image issues or intense fear of weight gain


  • Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet
  • Poor wound healing and immune health

Difference Between Disordered Eating And Eating Disorders

Therapeutic Interventions for Emetophobia

Aaron Johnson is a fact checker and expert on qualitative research design and methodology.

Disordered eating and eating disorders share some commonalities, but it is important to recognize that they are not the same. Where an eating disorder is a clinical diagnosis, disordered eating refers to abnormal eating patterns that do not meet the criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. Someone with an eating disorder may exhibit disordered eating behaviors, but not all people with disordered eating will be diagnosed with an eating disorder.

This article discusses the key differences between eating disorders and disordered eating. It covers the symptoms of each, their causes, and some of the treatments that can help.

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Why Was This Diagnosis Added In 2013

The purpose of the DSM is to provide clinicians with a useful tool to diagnose and treat mental disorders. When additions or changes in the text are made, it is with the intention that the manual will become more helpful. The addition of ARFID to the Feeding and Eating Disorders section is a perfect example of this objectiveit gives clinicians a new language with which to more accurately capture a cluster of meaningful clinical symptoms.

Using the DSM-IV, if a patient presented with the symptoms described by ARFID, that person may have been diagnosed with Eating Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified or Feeding Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood. EDNOS did describe a disturbance with eating, but it was a catchall category that could not provide as much guidance in terms of treatment or prognosis. Feeding Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood, on the other hand, was infrequently used and limited in scope because the criteria required that onset be before the age of six. In fact, with the most recent DSM updates, this diagnosis was eliminated altogether.

Are There Any Complications Associated With Emetophobia


If you have emetophobia, you may gradually develop complications similar to those found in other fears, phobias, or obsessions. In fact, the most common phobia associated with emetophobia is cibophobia . Cibophobia involves constantly worrying about whether or not your food was stored, prepared, or cooked properly. In other words, you are extremely afraid of getting sick from the food you consume . As a result, you may begin to severely limit what you eat and/or refuse to eat until you are actually full, opting to eat small amounts to avoid nausea and vomiting.

Social anxiety and specific phobias like agoraphobia are linked to people with anxiety disorders like OCD and emetophobia. People with emetophobia may avoid large gatherings and/or spending time with others because of their fear of vomiting in front of them. These individuals may also avoid friends, crowds, and social events because they are afraid that someone else may throw-up in front of them.

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Causes Of Disordered Eating

The causes of disordered eating are varied and complex. Factors that can play a part include:

  • Culture and society, including celebrity culture, television and movies, social media, and online influencers, can lead to distorted body image and unhealthy relationships with food.
  • Mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder may contribute to the onset of disordered eating behaviors.
  • Stress or difficult life changes can trigger the onset of disordered eating patterns, such as loss of appetite or eating for comfort.
  • Trauma can make people more vulnerable to disordered eating and eating disorders.

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Lessons Learned From Emetophobia: Stop Trying to Overcome Your Fears | ERIN KELLEY | TEDxUCincinnati

If you asked me what I’d eaten today, I might well reply, “nothing.” I’m not on a diet, but I suppose it would be fair to say that I’m starving myself.

Self-imposed starvation is most commonly attributed to anorexia nervosa I havent been diagnosed with anorexia and am not preoccupied by my weight, which is actually of a pretty healthy size. But I am obsessed with food, or rather, the dangers it presents. I have emetophobia, an intense fear of vomiting. This phobia has ruled my thoughts and my life for the best part of a decade.

Millions of people are thought to suffer from emetophobia, yet very little is known about the condition: vomiting just isnt a sexy area of research.

Dr David Veale, a consultant psychiatrist in cognitive behaviour therapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and the Priory Hospital in north London, is one of the UKs only experts on emetophobia. Sometimes I ask patients, If I gave you the choice of either vomiting now or taking this pill that makes you die painlessly, what would you choose? They frequently choose to die rather than vomit. This is an indication of the perceived awfulness of vomiting, Dr Veale says.

For female sufferers, the phobia can be so debilitating that they may delay pregnancy or forgo having children altogether due to their anxiety surrounding morning sickness or their ability to care for a sick child.

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