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What’s the Best Treatment for Emetophobia?

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Emetophobia can be a highly debilitating condition with the potential to severely affect one’s quality of life. Though it can seem impossible to overcome, there are many treatments available that can help people learn to manage their symptoms and take back control of their lives.

Treatment for emetophobia can come in the form of therapy, medication, lifestyle practices, or even a combined approach. We’re going to walk you through each avenue and show you how to find the help you need.

Table of contents

Lifestyle practices

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There are plenty of changes that emetophobes can make to their daily routine that will help to reduce their anxiety, stress and other related symptoms. Though these self-help strategies won’t cure their fear of vomiting, they can potentially limit the severity of the condition.

Mindfulness exercises

Mindfulness is a way of understanding our thoughts and feelings in the present moment so that we can reconnect with ourselves. By examining our inner minds without judgement, we can begin to steer ourselves away from negative thoughts to better engage with our surroundings.

There are plenty of ways to practice mindfulness, including:

  • Noticing the everyday: instead of walking around on autopilot, pay attention to your surroundings. Whether it’s the food you’re eating or the places you’re walking past, try to savour every sensation.
  • Try something new: shake up your routine and try experiencing the world in a new way, e.g., trying a new restaurant, interacting with different people, or walking to work instead of driving.
  • Focusing on your breathing: when you start to feel overwhelmed by your negative thoughts, sit down and close your eyes. Spend a few minutes paying attention to the way that your breath moves in and out of your body.

In addition to this, you can set aside time for our eight calming techniques for emetophobia, including mindfulness meditation and guided imagery.


Our bodies are just as important as our minds when it comes to managing conditions like emetophobia. To ensure you’re in tip-top shape, you’ll want to:

  • Exercise regularly: whether it’s yoga, aerobics, swimming or cardio, exercise can be extremely beneficial in reducing stress.
  • Limit your caffeine intake: large amounts of caffeine can increase your anxiety, which can lead to nausea for some emetophobes.
  • Get adequate sleep: sleep plays a vital role in your mental and physical health, so it’s vital that you establish an effective routine.

Social support

Confiding in one of your family members or friends about your fear of vomiting can go a long way towards helping you feel less isolated, stressed and anxious. It also has the added benefit of giving your loved ones the chance to learn more about what you’re going through and what they can do to help you feel better.


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Image source: Priscilla Du Preez (via Unsplash)

There are various types of therapy available for individuals with emetophobia, depending on their preferences and the severity of their condition.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT works on the basis that thoughts, emotions and physical sensations are connected to each other. By reassessing the way that an individual thinks about a phobia, a therapist can help them change the way that they feel both emotionally and physically.

During CBT, an emetophobe will learn to evaluate the accuracy and helpfulness of the thoughts that trigger their fear of throwing up, and will eventually be able to replace them with ones that are more accurate.

As an example, when feeling nauseous, a patient will be able to ignore the automatic thought that catastrophises the situation and tells them that they’re going to be sick. Instead, they will remind themselves that the nausea is likely a symptom of their anxiety rather than a definitive indicator that they’re going to throw up.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy, also known as in vivo therapy, involves the emetophobe exposing themselves to the things and situations that trigger their fear of vomiting and its associated symptoms. This could involve:

  • Writing sentences that include the words vomit, sick and puke
  • Looking at cartoons and photos of people vomiting
  • Eating items of food that they’d usually avoid
  • Going to venues where people are consuming alcohol
  • Getting on a ride at an amusement park

By gradually exposing themselves to what they’re afraid of, the patient will slowly learn to tolerate and manage their symptoms. Given time, they can experience a cognitive shift, at which point they will realise that the situations and things that they feared most aren’t actually as bad as they thought.

Some therapists even offer VR exposure therapy, in which patients face their fears through realistic simulations via a headset. This can be a much more comfortable option for emetophobes who aren’t quite ready to face real-world scenarios—allowing them to progress at a much slower pace.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy

The aim of EMDR is to help emetophobes reprocess traumatic events involving their fear of vomiting, so that they no longer incite strong feelings of distress and disgust.

During these sessions, the patient will be asked to move their eyes side-to-side—by following the movement of the therapist’s finger, or through a tapping noise—while they recall a traumatic event. These eye movements create bilateral stimulation in the mind which allows patients to safely reprocess their memories without getting overwhelmed.

As the patient progresses through each session, they will slowly but surely find themselves able to recall these traumatic events without triggering negative emotions and symptoms.


Hypnotherapy is a process that involves a therapist guiding the patient into a trance-like state so that they can access their subconscious. During this state, the therapist will use guided imagery and other techniques to get the patient to think about their fear of vomiting.

The patient will be asked to imagine a situation in which they’re facing their fear, e.g., eating an item of food that may cause them to vomit, or heading to a venue where people will be drinking and potentially throwing up. As they do this, the therapist will repeat positive suggestions to help the patient challenge their negative fears and beliefs.

Eventually, the patient will reach a point at which they will be able to confront situations that would usually trigger their fear of vomiting without feeling immense distress or helplessness.


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Though there isn’t any specific medication that can be taken to treat emetophobia, there are certain types that can be prescribed to manage the symptoms of anxiety, depression and nausea that can be caused by the condition.

Antidepressant medications

Medications like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) can be prescribed to emetophobes to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression that are caused by their fear.

Side effects for both SSRIs and SNRIs, however, can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, so depending on the severity of your condition, you might be reluctant to give them a try.

Anti-anxiety medications

Beta blockers can be used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety by slowing down the heart rate and reducing blood pressure. One of the potential side effects, however, is nausea, so again, they might not be ideal for emetophobes.

Benzodiazepines, usually diazepam, can also be used to treat anxiety. As they can become addictive, however, they won’t be prescribed for longer than 2 to 4 weeks at a time.

Gastrointestinal medications

Emetophobes who present their fear and anxiety through nausea may find gastrointestinal medication to be very helpful. Though it won’t tackle the phobia itself, it can minimise the fear response that is provoked by feelings of sickness.

What’s the best treatment for emetophobia?

If you want to overcome your fear of vomiting and manage its associated symptoms, the best route forward is to try a combination approach.

By implementing some of the lifestyle practices mentioned above into your daily routine, alongside professional therapy and, where necessary, medication, you can start to take back control of your life.

Finding the right therapist

If you’re looking for a therapist who will equip you with the tools you need to confront your fear of vomiting and take back control of your life, EmetoGo is here to help.

We have a team of expert therapists who specialise in a range of emetophobia treatments, from EMDR to hypnotherapy, that can be held virtually or in-person. All you need to do to get started is fill out our consultation form.

Once that’s sorted, an EmetoGo therapist will be in touch to assess your condition and recommend a therapeutic approach that will best suit your needs.