I am afraid I have emetophobia and how should I cope ?

For context, I do have acid reflux for a year already and it all started when I was overeat, too full and vomited in public. Recently, I have come upon this term ‘emetophobia’. I know that I have always been fearful of vomiting in public and I constantly get anxious and worried about it (though eventually I didn’t vomit) there were many such occasions and every day I would keep thinking of it in my mind despite how hard I told myself to ignore it and tried ways to distract myself. There were several occasions that I turned down my friends’ hang out invitations because I fear I might see trigger food, feel nauseous and want to vomit. However, the problem here is that I have gone online to do test on emetophobia and I scored 16/40 on average for the tests. The part that I scored pretty high was the behavioural aspect (like the fear of eating in public and trying new food etc but I am not fearful of children around me or that people around me are sick or vomiting, I don’t really get affected by these). Not only that, when I see oily food or large scale of food, I would get anxious and start to feel a little naseous , my heart start beating fast (intend to vomit but nothing comes out) I was thinking if I really should seek therapy because it’s really affecting my emotions and relationship with food… I didn’t dare to tell my family members about this because they would simply think that it is a mindset issue.


Hi @Moch

Thank you for sharing with us your struggles, I want to acknowledge and validate your feelings, as it takes a lot of courage to open up about something so personal. It sounds like you’ve been dealing with a painful situation related to both your acid reflux and the fear of vomiting in public, which you’ve identified as emetophobia.

It’s completely understandable that these experiences have been affecting your emotions and your relationship with food. The anxiety and worry you describe, especially when faced with certain triggers like oily or large amounts of food, are undoubtedly distressing. I want to commend you as you’ve taken the initiative to explore the possibility of seeking therapy to address these concerns.

Your feelings are valid, and yes seeking therapy can be a helpful step in finding support and coping strategies. A therapist can provide a safe space for you to explore and understand these emotions, as well as work with you to develop effective ways to manage them.

I hear you, it’s actually very common for people to hesitate in sharing such experiences with family members, especially when there might be concerns about how they’ll be perceived. I want to encourage you that seeking help is a strength, and a therapist can offer guidance and support without judgment.

If you decide to pursue therapy, you might consider finding a mental health professional with experience in anxiety disorders and phobias. They can work with you to explore these feelings, develop coping mechanisms, and help you regain a sense of control over your emotions and relationship with food.

Take your time to make the decision that feels right for you, and know that you don’t have to face these challenges alone. Do let us know how you’re coping and what you’ve decided to do as well, we’ll be here to walk with you.

Hear from you soon.

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I have talked about this with my family members and they said that there’s no need for me to seek therapy (finance is a concern) and that my appetite and eating behaviours are very much due to my emotions. Other than finding a therapist to talk about this, are there other ways in which I can deal with this distress ?


Hi @Moch

Thank you for sharing more details with us. I would think that you could try out these strategies, and I hope they work for you. But if they don’t work very well after awhile, please do consider seeking therapy as most of the time these issues are linked to deeper emotional issues that we may not be fully aware of. I would also highly encourage you to seek help from a nutritionist who may be able to guide you about your reflux.

Here are some possible strategies to try:

  • Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Practice mindfulness or deep breathing exercises to help manage anxiety. You can use these tools to try:
  1. Practice mindfulness - Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Your Mental Health | mindline.sg
  2. Guided meditation - Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Your Mental Health | mindline.sg
  3. Reframe thoughts - [Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Your Mental Health | mindline.sg
  4. Anxiety - Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Your Mental Health | mindline.sg
  5. Relaxation - Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Your Mental Health | mindline.sg
  6. Deep breaths - Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Your Mental Health | mindline.sg
  • Gradual Exposure: Gradually expose yourself to situations that trigger anxiety, starting with less challenging scenarios and progressively increasing difficulty. For example, if you’re meeting your friends for a meal, meet somewhere that is not filled with food items that may trigger the senses, such as meeting at a park - then ask your friends to bring out the food gradually (one by one) so that it does not overwhelm you (This is just a suggestion, you can try other ways to expose yourself gradually)
  1. Nutritional Guidance: Given your acid reflux, consider consulting with a dietitian to develop a diet plan that minimizes triggers for acid reflux while still meeting your nutritional needs. This can be part of a comprehensive approach to improving your overall well-being, which will need to address the emotional or cognitive part too!

Please do consider seeking guidance from a professional therapist or nutritionist who can meet you and work on these issues specifically. Let us know your plans and what you’ve decided to do, hear from you soon!

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