If you live with emetophobia, or a severe fear of vomiting, you may likely go to great lengths to avoid situations that could cause nausea or make you sick. While avoidance might help temporarily alleviate anxiety, it can be extremely limiting over time. Exposure therapy is considered the gold standard for treating phobias like emetophobia, but it requires facing your fears head-on through gradually confronting nausea-inducing situations. This understandably causes distress for many emetophobia sufferers. This article explores thoughtful ways to tackle exposure therapy to manage your panic while still pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.
Start Small & Set A Foundation Of Coping Skills
When beginning exposure therapy for emetophobia, start with tolerable situations instead of extreme ones right away. For example, if seeing vomit triggers panic attacks, start by viewing cartoon images of vomit. When you are ready, gradually expose yourself to more realistic images. Simultaneously, learn coping strategies like square breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and positive self-talk. Having these in place makes confronting future nausea triggers feel safer. Also, make sure you have anti-anxiety medications on hand to help manage panic attacks if they occur during exposure therapy.
Lean On Your Therapist During In Vivo Exposures
How to calm down emetophobia panic attack? In vivo exposures involve confronting real-life nausea and vomiting triggers, like going on amusement park rides or watching videos of people getting sick. While critical for reducing avoidance over time, this understandably spikes anxiety for emetophobia sufferers. Lean heavily on your therapist for support during early in vivo exposures. Verbal encouragement can help ease you through them. Discuss ways your therapist can best calm you beforehand and help manage any emetophobia panic attack in the moment. Clear communication preserves the exposure while keeping distress manageable.
End Each Session On A Positive Note
It’s critical to end exposure therapy sessions on accomplishments instead of panic attacks. If a particular trigger proves too intense, scale back to an earlier step you handled well. For example, if smelling a rubbish bin causes a panic attack, return to handling seeing cartoon vomit without issue. Ending on a positive empowers you to tackle this trigger next session. Pushing too far too fast in one session just erodes confidence. Baby steps are key.
Get Support Between Sessions
Between therapy appointments, have friends and family help create mini exposure scenarios to practice managing nausea triggers. For instance, have a friend randomly say “I feel sick” to get used to hearing sickness terminology. Or watch amusement park videos with a trusted person. Getting continuous practice makes facing real triggers during sessions less daunting.
For emetophobia sufferers, confronting situations that induce nausea seems utterly terrifying. However, avoidance breeds more avoidance over time. With compassion, patience, therapist guidance and coping skills to manage distress, tackling exposure therapy gradually can help you achieve freedom from emetophobia in the long run. The path is undoubtedly difficult, but small, surmountable steps make it possible. With consistent effort and support, you can put your phobia behind you for good.