Friday, September 2, 2011

Emetophobia: The Hidden Fear

Emetophobia is, quite simply, the fear of vomiting. For most people, vomiting is a natural occurrence, but some regard it as something that invokes great fear and distress. It can lead to anti-social behavior, high stress and obsessive-compulsive habits.

For most people, vomiting causes discomfort, but for the Emetophobics (or Emets), it is beyond the point of discomfort; it is a source of great anxiety. Many Emets would rather lose a limb than be sick; some say they would even rather die.

Many Emets know the cause of their fear. It is generally triggered by some event in the person's childhood. Some event happens that teaches the person to have fear or anxiety associated with vomiting. Many times it is a traumatic event, or even displeasure from a parent when the person vomits. (Parents with emetophobia often contribute to their children's fear)

There are a few behaviors that are common to nearly all Emets. They include limiting a diet (by processing foods as "safe" or "unsafe"), fear of travel, not drinking alcohol, fear of eating in public, fear of people who are ill. Some women Emets even avoid pregnancy, for fear of morning sickness.

Most Emets can count on one hand the number of times they've been sick in their entire lives. Talking about it, or even thinking about it, can cause great stress. Emetophobia can cause panic attacks, and can make someone crave social isolation as the fear takes over their daily lives. In an effort to deal with the phobia, the Emet seeks to control all aspects of their life by pushing out situations that they cannot control, like being in public.

Emetophobia is not well-known., and that is due in part to those who suffer from it. Emets usually keep it secret, mostly in fear of public disapproval. Remember, for Emets it is a sense of extreme anxiety, and often embarrassment. They become skilled in coming up with excuses to avoid situations which may present their fear.



Many who have this fear don't know that there is a name for it, and they often don't realize that others suffer from the same anxiety. With the great secrecy involved in the disorder, it is not easy to determine the amount of sufferers, though one website dedicated to support for sufferers claims it is the UK's 5th biggest phobia.

There are many websites devoted to sufferers of emetophobia. To find them, all you need to do is plug the word into a search engine, but are those websites really helpful? In one sense, they give hope to sufferers by showing them that they are not alone. It also gives a great deal of information that is not commonly known, as well as resources for treatment and cures.

Yet, when a phobia becomes worse with obsession, these "support groups" may only lead to more damaging behavior. By focusing more on the fear itself (there are claims by some to have gone decades without vomiting), the phobic can often become worse, their anti-social and obsessive behavior increasing. The phobic becomes more obsessed with the fear instead of seeking to overcome it.

There are many treatments to this phobia, as there are with others. Therapy can work for some, alternative treatments for others. Either way, Emets need to learn to control their fear, or at least find a healthy way to live with it.

If you suffer from emetophobia, don't let it control your life. Life is too short to let fear take over. Remember: You are in control.



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