Emetophobia and Eating Disorders: Is There a Connection?

Emetophobia is defined as a specific type of phobia, particularly related to vomiting or anything related to vomiting. Individuals who struggle with emetophobia, or a fear of vomiting, may fear the loss of control associated with vomiting, such as being unable to stop or being sick in public, etc.

Emetophobia can impact people of any gender, race or age but may be more likely to occur in a person who has had a traumatic event associated with vomiting.

Signs and Symptoms of Emetophobia

Individuals who struggle with emetophobia may exhibit certain signs and symptoms as result of this intense phobia of vomiting. For example, a person with emetophobia may exhibit excessive cleanliness regimes in attempt to prevent himself or herself from getting sick. They may also frequently experience anxiety, especially around public places or certain social events and may avoid being around others all completely.

A person dealing with emetophobia may limit their exposure to several outside activities, such as eating out at restaurants, exposure to children, flying and traveling, or even avoidance of pregnancy due to fear of vomiting. Individuals affected with emetophobia may find that they have difficulty leading a “normal” life due to their overwhelming phobia of vomit.

Connection Between Emetophobia and Eating Disorders

lady with head on rail by riverSome individuals with emetophobia, particularly those who may already be susceptible to an eating disorder, may develop an abnormal relationship with food as a result of their phobia of vomiting. Some people dealing with emetophobia may also struggle with a fear of food or excessive worry that certain foods will cause them to be sick or vomit. This can lead to the restriction of certain foods or whole food groups altogether, which can result in malnutrition and extreme weight loss.

While individuals with emetophobia may not be restricting intake as a means of weight loss, they can suffer with the same types of consequences as one who may be dealing with anorexia, such as cardiovascular complications, osteoporosis, and more.

If you or someone you care for has been dealing with emetophobia and subsequent eating complications, be sure to connect with a specialist to determine what course of treatment might be most appropriate for you.

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 16, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com