How hypnotherapy can overcome a fear of vomiting

Few things are as unpleasant as feeling queasy. Whether it’s caused by illness or over-indulgence, nausea is something most people simply grin and bear. 

However, for the up to 5.5 million people who suffer with emetophobia – the fear of vomiting – it can be a debilitating condition. 

As anyone living with it will tell you, emetophobia is far more than getting anxious over feeling nauseous. It can be sparked by seeing others being sick or even the smell of sour milk. 

In many cases, emetophobia increases anxiety but, for some, it can lead to extreme coping or avoidance mechanisms. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. My hypnotherapy sessions can help ease your anxiety and help you overcome any fears connected to vomiting. 

What is emetophobia? 

Emetophobia is derived from the Greek word ‘emeto’, meaning vomit and ‘phobos’, meaning fear.  

Emetophobia is believed to affect around 8% of the population, and is most commonly reported among women. 

People with this specific phobia have a deep fear about being sick themselves, or seeing others vomit. 

The reason emetophobia is often regarded as more complex than other phobias is because of its ability to debilitate many aspects of a sufferer’s life.

What triggers emetophobia?

In many cases, a fear of vomiting starts during childhood, and can be triggered by a traumatic event either connected to being sick or with the throat.

Having said that, in some cases it has nothing to do with childhood and there is no obvious reason for the fear response to develop. 

For some people may be more susceptible or predisposed to feeling anxious about vomit due to their family medical history. 

There is evidence to suggest emetophobia can also be related to anxiety conditions, including OCD and panic. 

The symptoms of emetophobia 

Feelings of nausea and the physical act of vomiting trigger our sympathetic nervous system. That leads to sweating, palpitations and a rapid heart rate. 

In emetophobes, the desire to avoid this happening at all costs can lead to an array of particular behaviours that affect day-to-day life, but which can also impact their future. 

Places emetophobics try to avoid

  • Locations where they may have previously been sick or witnessed vomiting 
  • Hospital or clinical settings 
  • Public transport, such as planes or buses, for fear encountering motion sickness 

Actions/behaviours they can also avoid

  • Drinking alcohol 
  • Taking medications that may cause sickness
  • Watching or listening to scenes of vomiting on the television

These can also be symptoms of someone who is emetophobic:

  • An extreme fear of seeing or hearing someone vomit 
  • Immediate anxiety response and panic to seeing, hearing or being sick 
  • Feeling on edge in situations where someone could be sick (often accompanied by planning ‘escape’ routes, finding the nearest toilets etc.)
  • Fear of being sick alone not having a support person with you
  • Fear of choking on vomit
  • Extreme fear of becoming unwell and/or having to go to the hospital 
  • Monitoring other people who say they are unwell 
  • Waking up and feeling or being sick after anaesthesia
  • Triggered by people coughing, burping, or saying they don’t feel well
  • Excessively checking use-by dates on foods 
  • Overcooking meals to minimise the risk of food poisoning
  • Excessive levels of hygiene to avoid germs 
  • Excessive consumption of ginger or anti-sickness medication

Emetophobia’s impact: persistent and intense anxiety

In many cases, emetophobia leads to increased stress and anxiety. Physical symptoms include an increased heart and breathing rate, as well as feeling light-headed and even nausea. 

It can also be associated with worries about losing control or feeling trapped in a place or situation, and be linked to an early memory of someone being sick, perhaps a family member.

As a result, many emetophobic people are on hyper alert for any signs of illness that may induce vomiting, and may actively avoid certain places, events or situations. 

Public spaces and events

One of the reasons fear of vomiting is such a complex phobia is the impact of emetophobia symptoms on people’s ability to function. 

The anxiety that comes with feeling nauseous in a place where there are no toilets, or being in the same room as someone comes down with a sickness bug can be utterly debilitating. 

People feel they can’t travel, potentially affecting their work prospects or holiday hopes. 

The anxiety response for some sufferers is to simply not leave the house, creating a vicious circle of social phobias driven by significant anxiety. 

Eating and personal wellbeing 

Emetophobia affects almost every aspect of a person’s everyday life, compared to some ordinary phobias. 

As well as creating a major obstacle to social interaction, including between partners, emetophobia can also lead to an intense fear that is connected to all or some foods. 

Sufferers may repeatedly and obsessively check food best before dates or avoid cooking or eating certain ingredients they think could make them vomit.

Just thinking about cooking can trigger a churning stomach and negative associations in the mind of an emetophobic person. 

These fearful associations can even manifest themselves in a physical way. Some sufferers feel compelled to obsessively clean themselves, aiming to reduce the risk of becoming ill and vomiting. 

Left untreated, the effects of complex phobias like vomit phobia in some people can become very severe. 

As well as anxiety disorders, they can also include physical impacts, such as malnutrition, weight loss and skin problems linked to over-cleaning. 

It can make daily life almost impossible and negatively affect self esteem and potentially spiral into depression. 

Morning sickness 

Women who suffer from emetophobia may feel anxious about pregnancy due to the fear of morning sickness.  

The thought of feeling or being sick once or twice a day can be enough to prevent them wanting to have children, this in turn can cause pressure on relationships. 

Others have a heightened fear of hyperemesis gravidarum, a disorder that causes severe sickness in between 0.5% and 2% of pregnant people.

Even though the likelihood of having hyperemesis gravidarum is very low, emetophobes may still experience profound anxiety disorder or even panic attacks. 

It could be so stressful that their debilitating phobia negatively impacts their mental and physical health during pregnancy. 

Medicines: panic and phobic reaction

When people suffer from a vomit phobia, they can also have a panic attack at the thought of taking a medical treatment that has nausea as a side-effect. 

That could include anything from run-of-the-mill ibuprofen to chemotherapy treatment for cancers, blood disorders and a range of autoimmune diseases. 

Not everyone feels sick after taking these forms of medication, but for emetophobes, fearing treatment is yet another source of persistent anxiety. 

In severe cases, they may try to avoid taking the medication altogether. 

While both nausea associated with pregnancy or medicines that can provoke sickness could be considered a form of exposure therapy or phobia treatment, for some people it simply further triggers their fear of vomiting.  

There is another way, that doesn’t involve phobia exposure or heightening your already existing fear. 

How hypnotherapy can help emetophobia  

If everything I’ve covered in this post so far sounds familiar, then there is a very real possibility you are emetophobic. 

Now let’s explore how I can help you overcome your fear of vomit or other phobias, release the fear and give you back your life. 

Hypnotherapy involves connecting with the human mind on a deep subconscious level to help bring about positive, lasting behavioural change. To do this, you need to enter a state of deep relaxation. 

As a qualified and accredited hypnotherapist, I can help you achieve this perfectly natural state, and give you the tools you need to break free from your phobia. 

Resolving trauma and ending panic attacks

My Solution Focused Hypnotherapy sessions are a blend of modern psychotherapy methods with hypnosis. 

I focus on helping you resolve issues, rather than the problem itself. I have found this helps bring about rapid and significant positive change for patients with a wide range of issues. 

Hypnotherapy is a proven, effective way to help people overcome phobias, including the fear of vomit. 

A personal hypnosis experience  

There are many myths and preconceptions about hypnosis as a phobia treatment, but what I practise as a Solution Focused hypnotherapist is a world away from what you might see on a stage. 

It is absolutely not a form of mind control. You remain conscious and in control at all times and most patients leave hypnotherapy sessions feeling refreshed. 

The hypnotic or trance-like state is experienced differently by everyone, but it’s very similar to daydreaming. 

A person can only enter that relaxed state if they want to, and if they wish to come out of it, all they need to do is open their eyes. 

For some patients, being hypnotised puts them in a state of focused attention, while for others it wanders and they hardly pay conscious attention at all. Everyone is unique. 

My hypnotherapy process

I always begin with a free Zoom-based initial consultation that usually takes around 30 minutes. You can book one at a time to suit you here

I use this time to learn about you and your phobia, including the fear driving it and what you would like to achieve from a hypnotherapy phobia treatment plan.  

Working together to achieve your goals

If you’re happy to go ahead, we can book in your three hypnotherapy for emetophobia sessions. My Solution Focused approach means that we can achieve rapid results in tackling your phobia. 

Hypnotherapy has been proven to be highly effective for emetophobia. It can reduce anxiety and ease the fear response among patients to normal healthy levels, where they no longer have a panic attack at the thought of feeling sick. 

Most phobias usually take three sessions to overcome, while issues such as general anxiety, fear and depression can take up to 12 sessions.

Ditching your phobia and achieving change

During each session we will agree what you want to achieve when it comes to overcoming your fear. I will use hypnosis and positive suggestions to embed these aims within your subconscious mind as a phobia treatment. 

After you begin hypnosis, your conscious and unconscious minds will be working to overcome your phobia of vomit, and as time passes, you will witness a positive change.

If your phobia of vomit was triggered by traumatic events, you will be able to observe and analyse them objectively, and move on. 

Unlike treatments that involve exposure therapy, hypnotherapy helps you detach from the emotional trauma that has been driving your phobia. 

The fear of feeling sick will subside, the generalised anxiety will lessen, and suddenly a world of alternative possibilities will open up.

Socialising will become a pleasure again, and the phobia that made your daily life such a challenge will hardly make its presence felt. 

Let me help you release that fear 

My hypnotherapy sessions take place on Thursdays at Salus Wellness Clinics in Cambridge and on Fridays at Coach House Health Care, Trumpington, Cambridge. 

Contact me 

To talk about your emetophobia and how hypnotherapy can help you reclaim your life, email me at, call 07359 188625, or fill in this contact form

For all medical issues, I recommend seeking professional advice from your local GP ahead of seeking treatment.

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