Swallowing Phobia - Help!

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clill
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/5/2007 9:58 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello All,
 
I'm new to the forum, and while I'm sure its full of great people, I wish I could be spending my time doing other things, other than fretting about anxiety/phobias.  :-)
 
I recently took prednisone (cortisone) for an ear infection and it triggered major anxiety/panic.  when I stopped taking the drug, my anxiety subsided - for the most part - but i was left with an awful phobia.  I am scared as heck to swallow!  I'm force feeding myself, and managing to get 2500 calories per day, but every meal is a challenge.  I suffer from acid reflux as well, but all tests show that there is no damage or narrowing of my esophagus, so it must be in my head.  The doctor has told me over and over that I will not choke on my food, but every few bites my throat locks up on me, and the food doesn't go down until I relax.  I can't seem to accept the doctor's verdict.  I fear that I won't be able to swallow my next bite, and if I can't swallow, then I'll lose weight, and slowly wither away.  While I have lost a few pounds, my girlfriend says that I needed too.  :-)  What concerns me, is that I didn't have any intention of losing weight, i.e. it was out of my control.  anybody else suffer through this and find the light at the end of the tunnel?  this is a real bummer.

debaser
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1745
   Posted 6/5/2007 10:52 AM (GMT -6)   
I had it to a small, small degree. I think a lot of people here have had it worse. It's not like a phobia, really, if your throat is "locking up". It's just one of the anxiety symptoms. If it continues, maybe a quick round of a very small of benzos would do the trick. Then, once you've forgotten all about it, maybe it won't be a problem anymore.

My mother has asthma and is sometimes treated with that prednisone stuff. Turns her into a nervous wreck.
My Brain: My friend, My enemy: A blog to chronicle my attempt to recover from anxiety/panic disorder
anxietypanicdisorder.blogspot.com/


ediekristen
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 1366
   Posted 6/5/2007 1:29 PM (GMT -6)   
It could be also that your throat seems to be closing up because of an actual condition related to the acid reflux, and the anxiety is just stemming from that, not the other way around. I have GERD and constantly have a problem with dysphagia where I can't swallow or it feels like the food gets stuck in my throat or it gets regurgitated and I absolutely can't eat without having something to drink. It's not necessary for there to be damage to the esophagus for this to happen- at one point I did have a throat full of ulcers, but now it looks perfectly normal and I still have this problem. The only thing they've ever done for me for it was dilate my esophagus during an endoscopy. Though I would try, if you don't already, just taking a sip of water/your beverage of choice after every bite or so to help it down.
Female, 21, Ulcerative colitis (pancolitis) since 1999; GERD; gastritis; osteopenia from long term prednisone use

Currently taking 5mg of prednisone (down from 40! Almost done...)
10 mg Lexapro
Waiting to start back on Azathioprine...


clill
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/5/2007 1:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Yes, the chicken or the egg theory...anxiety or GERD first...
 
I had a barium swallow and the results appeared to show that there weren't any strictures, so dilation wouldn't help me.  Regardless, I'm constantly clearing my throat after meals, and i have a terrible taste in my mouth often, so GERD is clearly present.  It's really hard to focus on the anxiety component when a portion of your mind keeps telling you, "it's gerd, and there is nothing you can do about it."  afterwards, you reconvince yourself that its only anxiety...its a vicious cycle.

debaser
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1745
   Posted 6/5/2007 1:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Well, that's true, too. I had a bad case of GERD until I was treated for anxiety disorder. I suppose my problems could've been related to the GERD and not anxiety/panic, but it's a symptom of both. Hard to tell. It's just one of those things. Prednisone also causes tissue swelling, doesn't it? Maybe you still have a little of that happening. I don't know anything about how long it stays in the system, though.

Anyway, I was diagnosed with GERD and A/P. Never had much trouble swallowing. Both diseases affect people very differently. I would guess (and this is nothing more than a guess), that it'll go away in time if you've never had a problem with it before. Just keep on top of it with your docs.

There's an MD who's been posting in the H/W GERD forum recently. If you haven't asked over there, then maybe he could tell you if prednisone is known to cause such a thing.

And these two conditions can definitely be interrelated...so your vicious cycle analogy is a good one. Like I said, I was NEVER able to get my GERD under control until I was able to deal with anxiety. It's still there, but Prevacid keeps it under control whereas before it could not.
My Brain: My friend, My enemy: A blog to chronicle my attempt to recover from anxiety/panic disorder
anxietypanicdisorder.blogspot.com/


Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 6/5/2007 6:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to HW

Debaser has given you fantastic input and support

I do hope you will stick around and post often
become a member of our : Lil Family"

LYN
    Contribute today to support Healing Well Forums...Donate @
 
Co Mod ..Crohns Forum
Moderator .......A/P Forum
Moderator ....Alzheimers Forum 
 
Dx with Crohns ,pyoderma gangrenosum ,Anxiety and panic
 Way to many meds to put down ..........
 
                   ONE step..Leads to MORE 
                       
 God Bless
   LYN                               
                          
                                  


clill
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/6/2007 3:13 AM (GMT -6)   
Debaser,
 
Thanks for the advice.  I read your blog, btw, good stuff.  One of my primary concerns about researching on the internet, besides the fact that there is a myriad of bad information, is that you all too often encounter other people who are suffering from similar problems.  While this sounds like a good thing, "misery loves company", you soon realize that they aren't any closer to solving the problems as you are.  The more horrifying stories you read, the lower your spirit becomes, yet the obsession to continue reading, persists.  As I have mentioned before, most people who have licked the anxiety or have learned to manage it, no longer post on forums....they have moved on.  It is refreshing to meet those people who have learned to cope, yet still dedicate a bit of their time to working with others who haven't figured it out.

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 6/6/2007 10:33 PM (GMT -6)   

Hello and Welcome to Healing Well.

You have received some good advice here. I have Gerd and find I have to eat easy to chew foods or I may choke but it is not anxiety.

Debaser has a great blog and awesome advice.

Again a warm welcome.


Respectfully
Kitt
Moderator Anxiety ~ Panic Disorders
Dx: Anxiety/Panic, Depression 
______________________________________________________
"If you doubt you can accomplish something, then you can’t accomplish it. You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” 
~Rosalyn Carter


clill
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/7/2007 4:13 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the welcome.  You mentioned that you have trouble swallowing due to GERD.  Have the doctors confirmed that it is related to strictures?  I had a complete examination done of my esophagus and there are no strictures, hence my swallowing difficulties (supposedly) cannot be related to GERD.

Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 6/7/2007 7:23 AM (GMT -6)   
I would be asking for a second opinion but thats me
Wishing you all the best

Go to Debasers Blog good / great input there

LYN
    Contribute today to support Healing Well Forums...Donate @
 
Co Mod ..Crohns Forum
Moderator .......A/P Forum
Moderator ....Alzheimers Forum 
 
Dx with Crohns ,pyoderma gangrenosum ,Anxiety and panic
 Way to many meds to put down ..........
 
                   ONE step..Leads to MORE 
                       
 God Bless
   LYN                               
                          
                                  


harry4
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1449
   Posted 6/8/2007 1:34 AM (GMT -6)   

HI Clill

food swallowing phobias are fairly common for anxiety sufferers, the main fear is that the food may go down the wrong way, causing a coughing fit and bringing embarrasment, so eating in private is sometimes possible only

your phobia may be due to fears of some GERD reaction or perhaps something else?? if its a fear of choking maybe eat in the hospital waiting room

some manage by putting all food in the blender or eating soups only the problem can last a long time

so I guess the big question is what might go wrong if you do swallow?

I did an earlier post about the need to want to recover which agrees with your other points


recovered former longtime anxiety and panic attack sufferer and helper of other sufferers  but no training or  qualifications in medicine or psychology, any remarks that may be taken as advice must be confirmed with doctor or other health professional
emails are welcome but do mention healingwell to avoid risk of deletion as spam


clill
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/8/2007 3:09 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Harry,
 
I had an appointment with the gastro yesterday, and we went through all my exams thus far, manometry, barium swallow, and partial upper endoscopy (only looks at the throat and upper esophagus), and the conclusion was that there are simply no problems except for a slight hiatal hernia and a weak LES valve.  The weak LES valve is only problematic if the acid reflux is not controlled and strictures or narrowing occur. Neither of those things are occurring. I'm having a full upper endoscopy, but the doc expects little to come of it. Therefore, we are left with stress/anxiety as the culprit.  My psychologist has been very very adamant about not utilizing avoidance tactics to eat, e.g. eating by yourself or grinding food in the blender.  I have been successful so far, but my eating experiences haven't been pleasant.  I'm looking at meals as something I need to "get through", instead of something that I want to enjoy.  I'm also obsessing about the number of calories that I'm consuming...making sure I get my 2500 calories per day!  My father claims that he had the same problem and it took him a LONG time to overcome it.  This is not reassuring to say the least, although, I should be optimistic knowing that he did beat it.
 
 

harry4
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1449
   Posted 6/11/2007 7:17 PM (GMT -6)   

did your psychologist give any helpful advice?

keep in mind that the swallowing reflex is automatic, if you keep chewing and someone distracts you,then  you will swallow automatically


recovered former longtime anxiety and panic attack sufferer and helper of other sufferers  but no training or  qualifications in medicine or psychology, any remarks that may be taken as advice must be confirmed with doctor or other health professional
emails are welcome but do mention healingwell to avoid risk of deletion as spam


clill
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/12/2007 5:09 AM (GMT -6)   
Harry,
 
I noticed that you have recovered from your anxiety and panic.  Did you use meds to help you?  I'm curious as to how you beat this "beast". 
 

Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 6/12/2007 6:27 AM (GMT -6)   
Am also wondering if your Pdoc gave you any useful advice to work with and thru this ??

LYN
    Contribute today to support Healing Well Forums...Donate @
 
Co Mod ..Crohns Forum
Moderator .......A/P Forum
Moderator ....Alzheimers Forum 
 
DX with Crohns, Pyoderma Gangrenosum,Anxiety /Panic
 
Take my Hand ...I will WALK with you
 
When the GOING gets TOUGH..The TOUGH get GOING 
 
 God Bless All
 
LYN    
                                  


harry4
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1449
   Posted 6/13/2007 2:29 PM (GMT -6)   

I got better thru meds, CBT and accepting that I had to learn new ways of coping with the anxiety and panics

you still havent told us why you have the swallowing phobia


recovered former longtime anxiety and panic attack sufferer and helper of other sufferers  but no training or  qualifications in medicine or psychology, any remarks that may be taken as advice must be confirmed with doctor or other health professional
emails are welcome but do mention healingwell to avoid risk of deletion as spam


Lana7
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 41
   Posted 6/14/2007 2:47 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi, totally understand you! Had the same thing and lost from my healthy 130 to 115 pounds.. When I started to see my self transparant already I found "insure plus" from Duane Reade chain store. It is a drink, with all vitamins. Besides that I was drinking chicken bullion and eating yogurts without fruit :-) But it went away eventually. Try this trick - look on something when you are swallowing and think about that object - this technique I'm using even tilll now for drinking pills (otherwise I chew them :-)). Put something in your mouth and look at something in the window or TV or something. It totally works! When you think you can't swallow - you can't swallow!, but think at this moment "oh, nice bag I see on TV", or "my chair is brown... or black brown?" or something specific to take your attention away - and it will really work.
I choked once on food and was alone in the house, I thought I will die... I was eating while laying on the bed - big mistake!, after that couldn't eat for an year :-) With all my panic attacks and anxiety this was an additional item for my bouquet, but I learned how to take concentration away, and I started to eat normally. It took months to understand, but I found this magic button. After sometime, I didn't use my technique and it went away unnoticebly.
Hope it helps!
Lana

Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 6/14/2007 7:27 AM (GMT -6)   
Ian thanks for your input
I am glad this works for you

Some things that work for others unfortunately dont work for all but I still like the idea of how you got thru '
I went to 88 lbs but thats not because of this fear it was me and shutting down .........


****Clill still no answer to mine and harry ? about the PDoc and why the fear ooof swallowing ......did he/she give you any INPUT on this at all ????"**** would love to find out

Take care

LYN
    Contribute today to support Healing Well Forums...Donate @
 
Co Mod ..Crohns Forum
Moderator .......A/P Forum
Moderator ....Alzheimers Forum 
 
DX with Crohns, Pyoderma Gangrenosum,Anxiety /Panic
 
Take my Hand ...I will WALK with you
 
When the GOING gets TOUGH..The TOUGH get GOING 
 
 God Bless All
 
LYN    
                                  


ruffwood
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 6/14/2007 9:15 AM (GMT -6)   
G...I think there are a number of issues here...
 
1.  Your anxiety about your girlfriends opinion  of you
2.  Your anxiety about your own self perceptions
3.  Your anxiety about not being in a decision making role.
 
I think that you should address all of these issues in an honest, unbiased way. The simplest way is to make yourself lists of wants, needs and desires under those headings....  When you achieve this, you will conquer your anxiety.  How you achieve this....is up to you!!!!..Best of luck and wishes for your success.......I look forward to seeing your posts relating to your success!!
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