My daughter was quite recently ill with a virus, which caused vomiting and lengthy periods of feeling very sick.

This seems to have made her frightened of the sickness feelings. Now when she has a more mild illness (i.e. nausea, slight diarrhea, no vomiting), she is distressed by the sickness feelings, waking up in panic several times a night. She feels a little better when she calms down.

How can I help her to overcome her fear of sickness feelings?

  • Unrelated to the question: i ADORE your username. :)
    – Valkyrie
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


Emetophobia is unfortunately very common. (The reference linked starts with the DSM-IV definition of emetophobia. For those who cannot click through, it's a phobia of vomiting.) Before we get to the plethora of links, I want to strongly recommend a therapist, one who is familiar with the treatment of phobias and panic disorders. Any therapist who downplays the severity of emetophobia, or who may suffer from it themselves, will probably not be a helper. Most emetophobes exhibit panic episodes, like what you describe above for your daughter.

Like other phobias, however, it can be overcome. There are several different methods of treatment: I personally (and my daughter, 6) used hypnosis to overcome emetophobia. Others have reported success with EMDR, CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and other types of therapy.

Please give your daughter internet hugs from me and my daughter. She's strong and can make it through this.

  • I believe the specific type of CBT Valkyrie is referring to is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). However, my impression is that a therapist would be looking for a variety of symptoms, or a pretty incapacitating level, to conclude that she is a good candidate for this type of therapy. - - I learned recently from an ear nose and throat doctor that medications in the Valium family, such as Ativan, reduce feelings of nausea, whether they are caused by a physical ailment or by more complex psychological phenomena. And that class of medications can be very helpful for panic. You could ask - Commented May 31, 2015 at 5:57
  • her doctor whether it might be helpful to start an SSRI and a small dose of Ativan or related medication. A child psychiatrist told me that whereas adults are told to take the Ativan when needed, in children, if you wait until it's needed, you've probably waited too long, and therefore he recommends using a small, regular dose. I'm not giving you advice, just suggesting some medications you could ask her doctor about. Commented May 31, 2015 at 5:59
  • Thank you @Valkyrie again, I've now accepted your answer a year on. In the event we have been most helped by a good counsellor specializing in children, and the book 'Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child's Fears, Worries, and Phobias' by Chansky. Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 16:02

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