Emetophobia • Symptoms, causes and treatment

Emetophobia • Symptoms, causes and treatment

Almost everyone hates vomiting. However, hatred is especially strong in people with emetophobia. The panic of throwing up or seeing others throw it can be life-threatening and lead to eating disorders. How to overcome emetophobia?

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Emetophobia is relatively unknown anxiety disorder, accurate data about Spreading The disease does not exist yet. According to the results of the first study, about 0.1 percent of the population suffers from a fear of vomit, but the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher. Both men and women of any age can be affected, but in most cases it is women.

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Emetophobia: what is it?

Experts define emetophobia as a pathological fear of vomiting or seeing other people throw up. This is a so-called specific phobia, like fear of injectionspider or public place (fear of crowds,

Vomiting yourself or someone else is uncomfortable for most people and is associated with feelings of disgust. However, in people with emetophobia, the fear of vomiting exceeds normal levels. Quit Vomiting – Or Even Thinking About It Nervousness out. Phobic victims are often aware that their fear is irrational and unreasonable, but they can’t do anything about it.

Cause: How does emetophobia develop?

It is not yet clear why some people develop emetophobia. experts believe that painful experience could play a role. So it is assumed that, for example, a heavy stomach influenza Anxiety in childhood can be a trigger for disorders. In addition, those affected often have an increased sensitivity to disgust.

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Emmatophobics often find themselves in a vicious circle: they suffer from constant Nausea, which is probably a physiological response to fear. The expectation of vomiting soon and in turn the memory of the previous vomiting reinforces the fear. If then catastrophe does not occur, it serves as an indirect confirmation of the avoidance behavior.

What are the symptoms of emetophobia?

A strong fear characteristic of emetophobia is:

  • before vomiting itself (alone or in the presence of others)
  • watching other people (or animals) vomit
  • before confrontation with the subject (such as in conversation or the media)

Thoughts or actual experiences trigger panic attacks, which are accompanied by heart palpitations, feelings of anxiety. dizzy, panic and sweat.

Restrictions in everyday life due to emetophobia

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

In addition, people with emetophobia often suffer from selective eating disorder, They carefully check products for their dates of sale and only eat foods that they tolerate and that are classified as “safe.” This can lead to a one-sided diet and thus nutritional deficiencies.

They may also develop compulsive behavior. For example, they wash and disinfect their hands very often so that they are not infected with pathogens that can cause gastrointestinal infections. Fear of viruses and bacteria does not lead to hospital or doctor surgery or accepted absences from school or work.

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Diagnosis of emetophobia

A reliable diagnosis is important, as emetophobia can only be successfully treated in this way. If physical causes for symptoms such as nausea can be ruled out, those affected are usually referred for a psychological exercise.

There are no definite diagnostic criteria for the rare anxiety disorder in Germany. That’s why doctors mostly use questionnaires that were developed to diagnose other anxiety disorders. Along with the “Emetophobia Questionnaire (EmetQ-13)”, an English-language diagnostic questionnaire is also available, which specialists in Germany can use for orientation.

Differential diagnosis in emetophobia

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

  • sensitive gut disease, Since affected people often go to the doctor’s office because weight loss and persistent nausea, a functional disorder of the gut often considered first.

  • uncontrolled obsessive disorder, Many sufferers display behaviors that are typical of OCD, such as excessive washing of their hands or checking groceries. Therefore, obsessive-compulsive disorder is suspected in many cases. While frequent checkups are troubling for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, they are considered useful in the context of emetophobia, as they can reduce the risk of vomiting.

  • anorexia, Some doctors even initially diagnose anorexia nervosa because affected people eat less and lose a lot of weight. However, most emetophobic sufferers want to gain weight again, so therapy for an eating disorder alone is not suitable for them.

  • Hypochondria: In addition, emetophobia must be distinguished from hypochondria. The main difference between the two disorders is that those affected are not afraid of diseases, but rather a specific symptom – vomiting.

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Treatment: how to overcome emetophobia

In the case of emetophobia, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be particularly effective. The so-called exposure therapy (confrontation therapy) is mainly used here. This means that patients under psychotherapy are specifically exposed to situations they fear. In the case of emetophobia, pictures, videos, smells or noises are mainly used. In addition, it can be helpful for those affected to go to places of concern, such as a restaurant, with medical help. In this way fear can be overcome step by step.

In addition, during therapy, patients learn coping strategies such as breathing or meditation exercises that help them get their fear of vomiting under control. The biofeedback method has also been shown to be helpful for people with emetophobia. Many sufferers have a rapid, shallow breathing pattern, leading to symptoms such as nausea and Abdominal pain can do favors. Feather biofeedback Learn to consciously understand the body’s responses and learn to transform shallow chest breathing with a tense abdomen into deep diaphragmatic breathing.

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