Anxiety and emetophobia

Hello, I'm quite new to this site and have had a fear of vomiting as long as I can remember. I've only every vomited 3 times in my life but suddenly I am feeling constantly sick. The doctor has prescribed me anti-sickness tablets but they don't seem to be helping. I also have GAD and was prescribed Citalopram however they made me feel so sick I couldn't preserver with them. Lately I seem to be retching a lot of the day and have not been going to work as terrified I am going to be sick.

I have a lot coming up so am wondering if that has something to do with it. I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced intense nausea due to anxiety but are so terrified to vomit.

Will actually letting my body let it all out cure me and make me feel better? I've had cbt treatment and also hypnotherapy but the last couple of months have been hell and I am missing out on a lot of social activities as well as work. I need to get the nausea under control.

I would love to hear back from anyone who has the same symptoms or have experienced them in the past.


6 Replies

  • Hey Hannah,

    Welcome to Anxiety Support. I also suffer with emetophobia. I have had CBT and at the moment, I am a lot better than I was.

    I have also suffered from intense nausea and the retching and spent ages locked away in my house. I wouldn't go anywhere or see anyone so I lost all my friends. It was a pretty miserable time so I can identify with what you're saying.

    It varies from person to person as to whether throwing up is a cure for emetophobia. Some people say that it is, some people say that it makes the phobia worse. When I did CBT, we treated it as a fear of anxiety (the anxious thoughts/sensations which all related to vomiting) rather than a fear of vomiting.

    I was recommended a book to read through CBT. It's based on ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) and it uses techniques such as expansion in order to allow you to let the unpleasant sensations go through your body and accept them. It's called The Happiness Trap and its by Dr. Russ Harris.

    I also have some information on emetophobia which I'm more than happy to post and pin for you if you'd like to read it?

    I hope this helps in some way.

    Megy xx

  • Hello,

    Thank you for your reply.

    It makes me feel better that there are others who have experienced what I am experiencing and come out the other side.

    I currently am locked away, too afraid to go anywhere in case the gagging starts in public. You'd think that being at home would calm it but it doesn't.

    Maybe going back to CBT would be beneficial, it was my phobia of being sick that was mainly addressed, not the anxiety.

    I'll try out the book you mentioned. It would be great if you could post some information.

    Thank you

    Hannah x

  • Hi Hannah,

    I've posted the chapter for you now. Hopefully it'll appear under the pinned posts in due course.

    I can understand that, that's exactly what I was like. Unfortunately, we can't run away from ourselves which is half the problem with emetophobia I think.

    If its possible, maybe you could speak to your GP and find out if there's a therapist that deals with emetophobia available. I was lucky in that my GP knew that there was a therapist dealing with emetophobia locally and I think that because he understood emetophobia, that helped with CBT a lot.

    Hope this helps.

    M xx

  • Hi Hannah,

    Im going through the exact same thing right now, house bound, too terrified ill be sick in public, or at all for that matter. I managed to persevere with the citalopram at first and I was given it about a year ago now, but stopped taking it after 6 months due to the extreme tiredness I had, as I'd built up a tolerance too it, but couldn't take anymore or I'd be waaay too tired.

    I also had to quit my job 2 weeks ago as it all got too much for me, I couldn't function, I couldn't drive, I was completely useless to them. But unfortunately I think its made it worse as I now spend all of my time in the 'safe base' that I call home.

    I've also had CBT and hypnotherapy with an emetophobia specialist, but nothing has worked so far, so 2 years on here I am haha. I still want to know what made it so extreme though, because I've always been terrified of being sick, but I don't know how ive managed to let it completely consume me and end up having such severe anxiety in basically every situation imaginable :(

    It is awful and I'm sorry my post isn't very positive but I just wanted to say I know exactly what you're going through and how horrible it is, so feel free to message me if you would like to talk about it :)

    I forgot to say, Im currently taking lorazepam (a benzo) to calm the anxiety because its so bad, and that was something I at first said I would never take due to them being so highly addictive, but hey, its a last resort :(

    I have a meeting with a psychiatrist planned so maybe that will help, fingers crossed.

    Anyway good luck and I hope you improve soon, especially with the stuff you have coming up!

    Best wishes,

    Alanah xx

  • Hi Alanah,

    So sorry I never saw your message earlier! Your message has really helped, how are you getting on now?? Are you still taking the lorazepam? I've been prescribed diazepam and like you say I never said I would due to being addictive but like you it's been a last resort.

    How are things now? I nearly quit my job a couple of weeks ago but my manager talked me into staying (I'm lucky to have an understanding manager) but feel a bit useless as can't do my job role as well as I used to.

    I went to see a psychiatrist and have been told to give CBT another go and look into courses for 'Mindfullness'. Is this something you've had any experience with? I'm not great with this site, tried to message you direct but couldn't figure it out? haha.

    Anyway I hope you're okay and although you replied a while ago, thank you very much :) I completely get everything you say and find it so hard to explain to others!


  • I too am afraid to vomit. I am sixty-two years old and I only remember vomiting twice as a child and three times as a teenager and adult. i swear I think I "will" myself NOT to throw-up.... I have had to change medications because of this.... some meds would make me nauseated and I had to switch to ones that didn't. The meds I take now make me nauseated if I don't take them with food... but as long as I do that I am fine. There are some other meds, mostly some antibiotics that I cannot take because I get gravely ill.... I actually was in the hospital once and they had me on a certain antibiotic and I was extremely sick to my stomach... they gave me anti-nauseating meds to calm me down but I got worse.... I finally refused all the meds...the nurses had a fit and hunted down two different doctors to talk to me.... back then I was never assertive but this particular situation brought out the best in BITCH in me.... and everyone left me alone and I got better without any meds.... Finally one doctor wrote down all the names of the medications that disturbed my stomach in such a severe way and said to tell any doctors or nurses after that that I was allergic to them...

    I wish you the best and hope that you can find meds that don't make you sick.... I know stress can make it even more complicated and painful. Once one thing gets better I am sure the rest will follow. I did have some hypnotherapy for the fear too and it didn't seem to help at first but it did actually help me after I stuck with it awhile longer.

    Best Regards, Tamra

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