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To the untrained eye, emetophobia may seem similar to eating disorders. However, emetophobia is an intense fear of vomiting, triggered by nausea, seeing vomit, or hearing others vomit. It is classified as an anxiety disorder and can severely limit a person’s quality of life. Symptoms include food restriction, avoiding hospitals or medical offices, certain foods, and even words associated with vomiting.
Defining Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that negatively impact a person’s health. Anorexia nervosa involves worrying about upcoming meals and avoiding eating out at restaurants. Bulimia nervosa causes extreme guilt and binge-restrict cycles. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Symptoms include excessive calorie counting, exercise, restrictive diets, avoiding eating with others, and excessive feelings of guilt or shame.
Similarities and Differences
Both emetophobia and eating disorders involve anxiety about food, but the reasons behind the behaviors differ. Emetophobia is driven by a fear of vomiting, while eating disorders are often driven by a fear of gaining weight or regaining control. Both can result in harmful effects on the body, including malnutrition and cardiovascular complications. A thorough assessment by a trained mental health professional is advised for those struggling with either condition.
This post is presented in collaboration with ADAA’s OCD and Related Disorders SIG. Learn more about the SIG.