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Emetophobics...any advice you can give to a teenage emetophobe please (or to parents of teenage emetophobe)

(11 Posts)
FromIbizaToTheNorfolkBroads Sat 17-Dec-16 20:31:09

Seeing a couple of threads pop up today about emetophobia made me think.

My teenage DD is clearly emetophobic. In the past it's only been an issue occasionally but recently it's affected her school attendance on and off for a couple of weeks due to feeling sick.

We're waiting to see a school nurse/counsellor but I imagine this is more likely to address general anxiety rather than be specifically targeted to help the emetophobia.

Having read quite a bit about it I realise that it can become something that can affect so many areas of someones life and I want to be able to try and avoid this happening to DD if at all possible.

Can I ask those of you that suffer from it....is there any advice you can offer to DD (or to me as a mother) to avoid this becoming an issue that affects her life any more than it does now?

BillyDaveysDaughter Sat 17-Dec-16 21:53:44

Oh gosh. Where to start!

I'm 44 and have been phobic for a good 40 years. It affected me very badly at school.

This time of year is terrible for true phobics, I really sympathise - with all of you, because its not easy being around someone who is phobic either.

There are 2 things that can be done right now - the first is to get some CBT for her. It will help her understand catastrophic thinking, help her to rationalise panic attacks and not be frightened of the sensations they bring, and start helping her get back in control of some of those awful fears.

The second - and I'm not sure how applicable this is, given her age - is to ask her GP to consider some mild medication. It really takes the edge off the anxiety, staves off the panic and helps to face things a little more logically. Now that may of course not be an option at her tender age, but it's worth mentioning as I know my over reactions start to recur if I go more than a few days without my tablets. I've taken them solidly for 18 years, and sometimes in winter my GP increases the dose slightly. But I have a fairly high flying career, so don't be afraid of it affecting her badly for all of her life! I had some terrible times, true, but I came back fighting - it can be overcome, with practice and some medical help.

If she is currently nervous about noro...I have a handy statistic for her. There was a noro epidemic in 2007, when the media helpfully predicted that 3 million people would catch it and all the emetophobes went into meltdown. My phobic doctor pal worked out that this was about 0.4% of the population. Less than 1 in 10. I personally found that much easier to handle than 3 million people, and no one I knew got it either.

Try not to "feed" her fear by making a big deal of it - on the other hand, when you can see it is eating her up (she may be pale, withdrawn, reluctant to eat or talk) you can reassure her by ensuring everyone at home is religious about hand-washing before eating. Let her see you casually bleach door handles, light switches, loo handle, taps, stair handrail. Change towels regularly. Get her anti viral foams and wet wipes that kill noro (must contain benzalkonium chloride - Wet Wipes do, as does Boots anti viral foam, but baby wipes and anti bac gel do not) - she may feel a bit stronger knowing she has those for her hands when she feels anxious. This is not feeding it - it is giving her tools to cope and not dismissing her, believe me!

If I think of anything else I'll be back, but ask me anything you like. See if she will open up about specific things which make her most anxious.

WellErrr Sat 17-Dec-16 22:08:57

I'm 30 and have had this as long as I can remember. My teenage years were particularly bad.

One thing I regret; I used to and still do put all my energies into avoiding being sick.
I wish instead, that I'd gone for therapy and done CBT to help me cope if it did happen.

So my advice would be, take her for some talking therapies to help her cope. Try not to feed the fear.

There was a noro epidemic in 2007, when the media helpfully predicted that 3 million people would catch it and all the emetophobes went into meltdown. My phobic doctor pal worked out that this was about 0.4% of the population. Less than 1 in 10. I personally found that much easier to handle than 3 million people,

I like this statistic!

PollySyndeton Sat 17-Dec-16 22:15:38

I second the CBT suggestion. I also had some hypnotherapy which helped. I would say I'm 95% 'cured' now. I have the odd lapse, but I now have the tools to keep myself in check.

Emetophobia crippled me as a teen. I still remember it now, it was utterly horrendous. What I do know was that it was very closely related to anxiety (my home life was terrible at the time), so treating anxiety as a secondary issue is important.

I had no help. I didn't even know emetophobia was a thing until well into my twenties. I coped by employing lots of avoidance tactics, which included missing loads of school. It was such a shame.

Your DD is lucky that you recognise what's going on with her and want to help her.

SnorkelParka Sat 17-Dec-16 22:23:38

Look at emetophobiaresources.com , encourage resiliance and coping, not avoidance and safety seeking. General relaxation techniques can help too.

BillyDaveysDaughter Sun 18-Dec-16 00:01:32

Yy to Polly...your daughter is so lucky that you recognise her issue. My mum did her best, but it was the 70s and there was no comprehension of such things when I was 7 and sobbing in terror at school every day yet unable to explain why. All I wanted was to be safe at home, but I was labelled "naughty" and fragile and was punished.

I'm not bitter, that's just how it was then. I made it through to my A levels before I couldn't face going in to school to be near people anymore. I was 17 when, after a dreadful day, I looked up a mental health clinic and referred myself. They took me on for free (no idea why, it was 1989 and I was under 18 maybe) and gave me 10 weeks CBT.

Best thing I ever did, I still use the techniques now. I've had psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, talking therapy, acupuncture, you name it. CBT was the absolute best, of all of them. I'll never be cured, I accept that, but I am so much better at 44 than I was at 17. With my coping tools and my medication, I function fairly normally unless something really major happens!

BillyDaveysDaughter Sun 18-Dec-16 00:10:09

Oh one more interesting thing that my doctor friend unearthed from her research (she is also emetophobic, and specialised in psychiatry) - that repeated streptococcal infections in children have been linked to early onset of OCD behaviours, anxiety and clinical depression (I'm paraphrasing and don't know exactly what study it came from, but there is a paper somewhere).

I had repeated tonsillitis (strep) from 4 - 12yrs when they finally took them out, and although my phobia started as early as 4 when I woke up vomiting alone in a cold room, my avoidance behaviours and school fear really developed a few years after that.

FromIbizaToTheNorfolkBroads Sun 18-Dec-16 10:18:27

Thank you all for your posts and your insights as to what could help DD. I really do appreciate it flowers

When I get some time this afternoon I'll read through your posts again and have a google at some of your suggestions.

I think my background work-wise means that I do recognise anxiety, mental health problems, phobias etc due to client groups that I've worked with and I can see how deeply it can affect peoples day to day lives. My current job means I can see the immense pressure on young people academically and also the role of the internet and social media sad.

One statistic that shocked me was that emetophobia is one of the most common phobias in the UK (5th or 7th most common, depending on the source of the statistics IIRC).

Thank you again. I'll be back with questions I'm sure!

tallulahturtle Sun 18-Dec-16 21:25:59

I am 31 and have been aware of my phobia since I was 7. I never went on school trips as a child. Always feared the sickly child at the front of the coach.
The 2007 Noro epidemic crippled me and the hype made me stop listening to any news for about four years after.
I have tried CBT and hypnosis , the CBT sort of helped a bit but had its limits as unlike spiders (which are harmless in this country for example) , v*******, is a negative thing for all people, so it can be hard to see it as a phobia of something that can't hurt you.
The one thing that has truly helped me is my horse. Was always horsey as a child and got my first horse a couple of years ago and whenever someone around me is ill or people talk about "a bug going round", yes my heart gets a bit faster but then the next moment I am thinking, "what rug shall I put on her tonight" or something along those lines. She is my rock, she needs me, so I can't go hibernate in the house avoiding life when times are hard. She has helped me so much, she stops my mind running away with me, she keeps me sane. Not suggesting you go buy her a horse but maybe get her into animals somehow, unlike humans they rely on us 100% and that responsibility keeps me sane.

Rachie1986 Sun 18-Dec-16 21:31:59

0.4% is not less than 1 in 10, it's less than 1 in 100!

1% would be 1 in 100
0.5% would be 1 in 200.

So it's less than 1 in 200!

I like that statistic :-)

hanban89 Sun 18-Dec-16 23:03:20

I didn't know they medicate for this. I have been severely emetophobic since i can remember. I'm still the same at 27. Teenage years were particularly bad. I panic myself into thinking I feel sick most of the time and will shake uncontrollably. I'm petrified of the dreaded Noro I take steriliser round with me to wipe down trolleys and to use after I touch pin pads, lift buttons etc. Maybe a bit OCD confused
I hope she gets help now as I wouldn't want my DDs growing up with it into adulthood like I have done. I really hope she can overcome this.

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