OCD Subtype

What is Emetophobia (fear of vomiting)?

Emetophobia can appear as a presentation of OCD and one we see often at CalmOCD. Those suffering with emetophobia have an immense fear of vomiting. These fears can be unique depending on the person; however, mostly all do compulsive behaviors to reduce their anxiety. If lots of compulsions are performed this subtype can become very severe where people are eating a limited diet, no longer attending work or school, or even leaving the home. Sometimes these individuals are triggered by a certain event around vomiting while others are not able to identify any reason this has become a trigger. In OCD, there is often no significant reason the brain latches on and chooses a certain fear which we see in those suffering from emetophobia.

Common Obsessions

  • Fear of food being contaminated
  • Fear of food being spoiled or expired
  • Fear of how vomiting will feel
  • Fear of being judged by others if they vomit in public
  • Fear of not being able to stop vomiting
  • Fear of not being able to handle being sick


Common Compulsions

  • Avoiding anyone that may be sick
  • Avoiding colors like green and brown that remind them of vomit
  • Taking anti-nausea medication
  • Spitting or swallowing excessively
  • Checking body for symptoms
  • Drinking water
  • Reassuring self, they are not sick and will not vomit
  • Asking for reassurance from others they are not sick
  • Reading expiration dates closely
  • Reading ingredients of foods
  • Only eating certain types of foods
  • Eating slowly or not finishing meal fully
  • Doing different rituals such as counting or walking a certain way to ensure safety (magical thinking)
  • Problem solving ways to leave a place if they get sick
  • Only staying places for a short time or sitting by the exit so they can leave
  • Having others eat food first before to check it is safe

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