Emetophobia: Fear of sick and vomit
Emetophobia is a fear of sick or vomit. This can be a fear of oneself being sick, of others being sick or both. This would include hearing the word sick or seeing it in the media, etc. The phobia may develop from seeing someone being sick or the person being sick themselves.
This phobia is extremely debilitating as the sufferer will avoid situations where they may become ill or be around people who are ill, for fear they may catch something and become sick. If they have been sick in a place or situation or seen someone being sick somewhere, they will then avoid that situation or anything associated with that situation in the future. The sufferer may also limit their food intake and avoid eating at restaurants for fear of getting food poisoning. This can lead to severe weight loss and malnutrition problems as some sufferers will eat a very limited diet.
If children have this phobia, they may avoid certain classes in school because they fear there will be discussions of bodily functions including vomit and sick or show videos of someone being sick. In severe cases, the sufferer will not even be able to mention the word sick or vomit without developing severe panic. It can then become a fear of going to school and may lead to an avoidance of all sorts of situations; almost leading to agoraphobia.
It is very common that the sufferer will report scanning their body several times a day to scan for temperature, tummy feelings, headache and any other body sensation that is unusual. This will then lead them to think they are unwell and then lead to a fear they will become sick. The sufferer tends to be very obsessively inwardly focused on their own body sensations. Sufferers will report feeling that this thought is with them throughout the whole day, from the minute they wake in the morning to the moment they go to sleep.
There are some psychiatrists who believe this phobia is linked to OCD and as many as 30-50% of sufferers have OCD, making this phobia different to say a phobia like the fear of spiders. Consequently, emetophobia should be treated differently from other phobias.
How can hypnotherapy help with emetophobia?
Emetophobia can be challenging to treat but can be successfully treated with the use of hypnotherapy. It is possible, with the aid of hypnotherapy, to train the sufferer's mind to be more outwardly focused from their body and live more in the moment.
As this phobia can be linked to OCD, just decreasing general anxiety decreases the intrusive thoughts; as high anxiety is linked to increased OCD intrusive thoughts. Consequently, hypnotherapy can help with reducing general anxiety, especially if the sessions are recorded and the sufferer listens every day.
Coping strategies can be installed in the mind so that the sufferer is able to challenge negative intrusive thoughts as they appear in the mind. Hypnotherapy can then also be used to train the sufferer to think and feel differently in a more positive way in situations that they once used to avoid due to their intrusive thoughts.