Emetophobia is a serious, debilitating mental illness that conservatively affects between 0.1% and 0.2% of the population, according to one study. We have listed relevant research here. This adds up to approximately 500,000 people in the United States alone and 12 million world-wide. Other studies suggest about 6% of women and 1% of men in the world have a fear of vomiting but depending on its impact on their daily lives they may or may not seek treatment for it. Often people with emetophobia have trouble finding available clinicians with experience. Emetophobia has an early onset, in childhood, and so work with children will be imperative but research is very limited. Many parents seek treatment for their anxious children, but often the child is afraid to say any words associated with vomiting so diagnosis can be difficult and thus treatment is often ineffective.
Emetophobia, or the fear of vomiting, is under-researched and little is known about it in the medical and psychotherapeutic community. This leads many clinicians to misdiagnose emetophobia, or attempt to treat it as they would other phobias. Yet emetophobia is unique and does not respond to many typical treatments for phobias. Nevertheless, the standard, evidence-based treatment of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is indicated. Many clinicians may not know how to set up an exposure hierarchy for emetophobia and so we have provided one here for adults and one for children. This page has information on the characteristics of emetophobia.
If you have been previously unfamiliar with emetophobia, we encourage you to read through the information on this website, and perhaps listen to Anna’s “Emetophobia Help” podcast. For a more in-depth study of the research, diagnosis, and treatment of emetophobia please purchase our book for therapists to be published in April, 2023.