Emetophobia is an intense fear or anxiety that is specific to yourself and/ or others being sick. This fear has received little research attention in comparison to other difficulties. What researchers do agree upon however is that there is no known single cause of how someone may become emetophobic. It has however, been estimated that incredibly, up to 8.8% of the population could display symptoms (Philips 1985, van Hout & Bauman 2012). So before reading on, if you can relate to any of the below; please bear in mind, you are not alone.
The research and my own clinical experience of working with individuals with emetophobia point to the below as common symptoms of this phobia;
As this phobia is generally not commonly known amongst many health professionals, it can often be misdiagnosed as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), health anxiety,panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or even an eating disorder. Often, however it can present itself with any of the above simultaneously.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) has been proven to be useful in treating a wide variety of different difficulties including low mood/ depression, anxiety and even phobias. To find out more about CBT and how it can be applied to emetophobia, please click here.
If you would like to read up on more information about emetophobia, a very informative fact sheet exists here written by a registered clinical counsellor based in Canada with a history of emetophobia.