How do I Overcome a Fear of Vomiting?

Erica Stratton

Getting treatment to overcome the fear of vomiting includes anti-anxiety medication, therapy for the underlying problem, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or the slow expose to vomiting or pictures of people vomiting. The first step you can take to overcoming a fear of vomiting is to find someone to talk with about your fear. Though simply hearing about how other people have similar problems may not be enough for a cure, it can help you feel less alone.

A therapist might help someone get past a fear of vomiting.
A therapist might help someone get past a fear of vomiting.

The simplest medical treatment for overcoming fear of vomiting is having anti-nausea drugs prescribed to you. If your fear of vomiting stems from an actual physical problem, then medication can help control the symptoms. Anti-anxiety medication may also help someone in stressful situations where the fear of vomiting compounds itself and she can't make herself relax.

Talking to a mental health professional may help alleviate a fear of vomiting and other phobias.
Talking to a mental health professional may help alleviate a fear of vomiting and other phobias.

If your fear of vomiting stems less from a physical problem and more from shame or disgust, you may need help through psychological therapy in order to master your phobia. Fear of vomiting can also go hand in hand with OCD or agoraphobia, and you may need to find a specialist who has a wide range of experience in order to accommodate the entwined problems.

In therapy, a common treatment begins with describing the fear and discussing the underlying anxieties. The therapist will then guide you in showing you pictures and video of people nauseated and moving up to the actual act of vomiting. Many people find that this desensitizes them to something which has been their worst fear up until then, as if their avoidance had made the phobia worse.

Fear of vomiting can be a debilitating phobia. It can grow from simple embarrassment to an all-encompassing fear that keeps you from going on long trips or even leaving your house. Someone who has had an unusually traumatic experience with vomiting—such as being stuck with a sick sibling in the back of a car on almost every family trip—can develop a fear of vomiting in general. Other times, it's tied to a deeper problem; people prone to OCD, for instance, might conduct elaborate food preparation rituals to avoid contaminated food. People with low self-esteem may become paralyzed at the thought of suddenly losing control of their bodies and people looking at them with disgust.

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Discussion Comments


@umbra21 - Vomiting isn't exactly a good experience. I don't really blame her for being afraid of it happening. I can remember dreading it when I was a kid as well.

I never understood how people with bulimia could bring themselves to do it on purpose. I guess it becomes easier for some people after a while.

I did overcome it as an adult though. I ate some bad food when I was overseas once and I could feel food poisoning coming on, so I decided to make myself vomit. It wasn't fun, but I'm glad I did it because even after doing that I was extremely ill for days. I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn't done it.

So, I mean, even just for safety reasons it's a good idea to be capable of making yourself vomit if you have to.


@pleonasm - It's not surprising that our bodies sometimes freak out after stomach problems, because vomiting is one of the ways that it teaches us not to eat something. If you eat something and vomit it sticks in your mind as unpleasant so you won't eat it again. If you vomit no matter what you eat, that could be very confusing for your brain.

I remember seeing a fear of vomiting in children I was babysitting a while ago. One of them was ill and was terrified that she was going to vomit. I don't know if she had bad memories about it or what, but she managed to get very upset at even the thought of it, and it took me a while to calm her down.


One of my sisters had a problem with her stomach a while ago and she ended up with a fear of vomiting phobia even after it was treated. I think it was just so painful and uncontrollable that she basically didn't want to eat just in case it happened again.

She had some kind of therapy and it seemed to have helped a lot, because she doesn't have problems with food now, although I hope she doesn't have to cope with a stomach flu or anything like that.

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