What It's Like to Have a Pathological Fear of Vomiting

"As the train doors opened, I actually threw up in my hand. It wasn't even a small amount."

by Angela Hui
May 8 2017, 2:22pm

As I'm sitting here typing this I have a small voice in my head willing myself to not be sick; I try not to think about it too much and start to feel that all too familiar lump form in my throat. Just the very thought of being sick or anything to do with sick makes me, well, a little bit sick.

I have a mild form of emetophobia, which is an extreme phobia of vomiting. It can also include a fear of seeing—or hearing—others throw up and a fear of choking. Sure, it's pretty standard for everyone to dislike puke or being sick. But, according to Lorna Denton, a psychotherapist and mindset coach and a former emetophobia sufferer for nearly 30 years, "It only starts becoming a phobia when a person feels a disproportionate level of fear when they think about vomiting. They'll also start to engage in lots of avoidance behaviours such as not drinking alcohol or eating certain foods in an attempt to make sure they aren't sick."

Surprisingly, emetophobia is a condition that's not widely diagnosed even though it's a fairly prevalent anxiety disorder. Anxiety UK states that around 7 percent of the female population and 3 percent of the male population suffer from this specific phobia.

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