Treating Fear Of Swallowing (Phagophobia) with hypnotherapy
Phagophobia – Fear of swallowing is quite common place. Some people experience a lump in their throat when trying to swallow food. Others fear that, if they eat or drink, they will choke to death. It’s a non-specific phobia which is often made worse by a person’s stress about the condition. As a result, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as the more they anticipate their throats closing the more likely it is to happen.
Solution-focused hypnotherapy can help in a number of ways. Firstly it shows a person how to fully relax so they can feel every muscle letting go. Secondly, it helps change the subconscious response so that when a person is placed in a situation where they would normally have this reaction, the suggestion is to respond in a different way.
Difficulty swallowing medication
Fear of swallowing tablets and pills is a very common problem as it tends to trigger the gag reflex. If a person has to take a lot of medication then hypnotherapy can help them relax before taking their daily meds.
Before deciding to see a hypnotherapist it may be a good idea to see your GP to make sure you do not have an obstruction in the throat.
Case Study 1
The first case of phagophobia I worked on was a really interesting case. A lady called Sharon had had a stroke and had been paralysed down her left-hand side. She was bed bound and was suffering from extreme pain. The extreme pain came from the brain death from the very centre of the brain, which produces dopamine and other chemicals that help regulate pain. She wasn’t able to take her medication either. The doctors though decided this was psychological so they tried to get her husband to find a way of getting her to take it.
Her husband decided to try hypnosis, and despite having not worked with a person with such severe brain loss before I explained that I would try but couldn’t guarantee success.
However, I needed not worry as after 3 sessions she was swallowing again. Sharon was able to take the medication, and have the operation she was waiting to have. As a postscript, I also found out that the part of the brain that controls swallowing had changed. She had MRI scans regularly, so the changes before and after impressed the doctors.
Case study 2
A young man called Alex who worked in the construction industry came to me to help him with a fear of swallowing. It was something he’d had for years. Over the past 3 weeks it had become so bad he wasn’t eating and was losing weight. His GP just gave him Gaviscon, but he knew it was more psychological. He also suffered emetophobia – fear of being sick, so the more he worried about it the worse the problem got.
At the initial consultation I gave him my CD and by session 1 he was feeling much better, scoring himself a 7/10. In that week he had eaten 2/3 of all the meals and he was feeling a lot more relaxed.
By the second session he was feeling more in control and wasn’t thinking about it so much. He’d had one blip after having a panic attack after drinking 7 vodka and Redbulls. I pointed out that Taurine found in Redbull was a high does caffeine so it mimics anxiety. No surprise he had a blip. I suggested he change his tipple. By session 3 he was having very little problem when going out with friends and colleagues.
Socialising became fun
It was coming up to Christmas and he was socialising a bit more than usual. In the end he was able to go out for a Christmas meal with colleagues and eat all the meal.
He was feeling a lot more relaxed in himself and at work. Because he was more relaxed at work, he found he was getting on better with colleagues and bosses.
After Christmas, he said he was managing to eat larger meals. As a result, he was able to get his weight back to where it should be for someone of that age and fitness. He also realised it happened more when he was tired. Consequently, he was making sure when he did go out on a Friday and Saturday evening he came home earlier and went to bed earlier. Some things were worth sacrificing to keep the anxiety at bay he told me.
He had achieved his goal in 5 weeks which delighted him.
So to find out how I can help you with phagophobia call on 07508 658934 to arrange for a consultation or contact me.