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Vomiting phobia • Symptoms, causes and treatment

Vomiting phobia • Symptoms, causes and treatment

Almost everyone is disgusted with vomiting. However, disgust is especially strong in people with emetics. Panicking about vomiting or watching others vomit can be life-threatening and lead to eating disorders. How do you overcome the phobia of vomiting?

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Relatively unknown vomiting phobia anxiety disorders. Accurate data about Spread of disease not yet found. According to the results of the first study, about 0.1 percent of the population suffers from fear vomiting, but the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher. Both men and women can be affected at any age, but in most cases women are affected.

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Vomitophobia: what is it?

Experts define emetophobia as a pathological fear of vomiting or seeing other people vomit. Which is called specific phobia, such as Fear of injectionor spiders or public places (agoraphobia).

Vomiting yourself or someone else is uncomfortable for most people and is associated with feelings of disgust. However, in people with emetic phobia, the disgust for vomiting exceeds normal levels. Get rid of vomit – or even think about it panic Outside. People with phobias often realize that their fear is irrational and inappropriate, but they cannot do anything about it.

Causes: how does emetic phobia develop?

It is not yet clear why some people develop vomiting phobia. Experts assume that painful experiences can play a role. So it is assumed, for example, that a file stomach flu In childhood it can be a cause of anxiety disorders. In addition, sufferers are often more sensitive to disgust.

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Often sufferers of emetic phobia find themselves in a vicious circle: they suffer constantly nausea, which may be a physical reaction to fear. The expectation of having to vomit soon and the memory of past vomiting reinforce fears. If the catastrophe did not happen after that, this would be an indirect confirmation of the avoidance behavior.

What are the symptoms of emetic phobia?

Intense fear is characteristic of emetophobia:

  • Before vomiting (alone or in the presence of others)
  • Watching other people (or animals) vomit
  • Before confrontation with the subject (eg in conversations or the media)

The actual thought or experience leads to panic attacks accompanied by heart palpitations and feelings of anxiety, DizzinessAnd Tremble And sweating.

Restrictions in daily life due to vomiting phobia

People avoid places or situations where there is a risk of vomiting or watching them vomit. This causes them to withdraw socially. They have given up parties and restaurant visits, they no longer meet friends or travel by train, bus, ship or plane. In particular, contact with children or pregnant women is often reduced because they have an increased tendency to vomit. Affected woman fears because of the model morning sickness Also before pregnancy and therefore they sometimes remain childless.

In addition, people with emetic phobia often have selective states eating disorders. They meticulously check products for the dates they sell and eat only foods they tolerate that are rated as “safe”. This can lead to a very one-sided diet and thus to a nutrient deficiency.

They may also develop compulsive behaviors. For example, they wash and sanitize their hands often so that they do not become infected with pathogens that can cause gastrointestinal infections. For fear of viruses and bacteria, hospitals or doctors’ offices are not visited or truancy from school or work accepted.

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Diagnosis of vomiting phobia

Reliable diagnosis is important, since emetic phobia can only be successfully treated in this way. If physical causes of symptoms such as nausea can be ruled out, sufferers are usually referred to a psychiatric practice.

In Germany there are no established diagnostic criteria for rare anxiety disorder. That is why clinicians often use questionnaires that were developed to diagnose other anxiety disorders. Through the “Emetophobia Questionnaire (EmetQ-13”), a diagnostic questionnaire in English is also available, which experts in Germany can use for guidance.

Differential diagnoses in emetic phobia

People with emetic phobia are often misdiagnosed because the condition overlaps with other disorders.

  • irritable bowel syndrome: Because those affected often go to doctor’s offices because of Weight loss and persistent nausea, intestinal functional disturbance is often considered first.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Many sufferers display behaviors typical of obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as washing their hands excessively or checking groceries. Therefore, obsessive-compulsive disorder is suspected in many cases. While constant examinations are troublesome for people with OCD, they are considered useful in the context of emetic phobia, as they can reduce the risk of vomiting.

  • Anorexia: Some doctors also initially diagnose anorexia nervosa (anorexia nervosa) because sufferers eat less and lose a lot of weight. However, most sufferers of vomiting phobia want to gain weight back, so eating disorder treatment alone is not for them.

  • Hypochondria: In addition, a distinction must be made between emetic phobia and disease. The main difference between the two disorders is that sufferers are not afraid of the disease itself, but of a specific symptom – vomiting.

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Treatment: how to overcome vomiting phobia

In the case of emetic phobia, cognitive behavioral therapy has proven particularly effective. Here what is called exposure therapy (confrontation therapy) is used. This means that patients undergoing psychological support are particularly exposed to situations that they fear. In the case of emetic phobia, images, videos, smells or noises are mainly used. In addition, it may be beneficial for affected people to visit places of concern, such as a restaurant, with therapeutic support. In this way, fears can be overcome step by step.

Additionally, during treatment, patients learn coping strategies such as breathing exercises or meditation that help them control their fear of vomiting. The biofeedback method has also proven to be beneficial for people who suffer from vomiting phobia. Many sufferers tend to have a rapid and shallow breathing pattern, causing symptoms such as nausea and stomach pain You may prefer. In the biofeedback Learn to consciously perceive the body’s reactions and transform shallow thoracic breathing with a tense abdomen into deep diaphragmatic breathing.

Psychotherapy: What forms of treatment are available?