‘Trembling hands emetophobia’

Many phobias and fears have very debilitating effects upon the sufferer… some suffer intense anxiety and stress, others live with a constant sense of worry and agitation.  One of my recent emetophobia trainees (a client who wanted help in overcoming emetophobia) described her phobia as ‘trembling hands emetophobia’ because she was so nervous and anxious about it. She would wake up anxious in the morning, and keep herself anxious all day long…

Only once she began to understand the way her beliefs and unhelpful thinking styles were actually causing her anxieties (and not anything to do with being sick) did she start to feel more in control.  Three months down the line and her emetophobia is completely gone!  Her initial score on our ‘emetophobia severity scale‘ was 27… post thrive it is just 3!

What is emetophobia?

Emetophobia, the fear of vomiting, is widespread; it is one of the most common phobias for which people consult Thrive Consultants. Research has suggested that prevalence of a fear of being sick ranges from 0.1 to 8.8% percent of the population (Hout & Bouman, 2011). These different figures probably depend upon whether the researchers assessed participants for any sort of ‘fear’ of vomiting or solely focused upon a severe ‘phobia’. These prevalence figures suggest that somewhere between around 63,000 and 5.5 million people in the UK suffer from emetophobia.

Emetophobia is known by many names (emetophobia, specific phobia of vomiting (SPOV), vomit phobia, sickness phobia, fear of vomiting…) and is associated with other fears and disorders, such as phagophobia (a fear of gagging, swallowing or choking), a fear of pregnancy, social anxiety and obsessional disorders. People can fear vomiting themselves and/or others vomiting. Most individuals with emetophobia are female, with research studies revealing that 85-97% of their emetophobic participants are women (Hout & Bouman, 2011; Lipsitz et al., 2001; Veale & Lambrou, 2006).  There is no specific research into ‘trembling hands emetophobia’, but I have consulted a number of people who have described their phobia in this manner.

Emetophobia tends to be a severe symptom and often significantly affects sufferers’ ability to lead normal lives. People with this fear often go to great lengths to avoid encountering anything that could lead to vomiting. They may, for example, be teetotal or heavily limit their alcohol consumption and avoid pubs or clubs where others may drink heavily and then vomit. They may worry a great deal about hygiene, and be fussy about making sure everywhere is clean. They may take excessive time off work or school because they worry about being exposed to germs that will cause them to be sick.