All About Phagophobia, the Fear of Swallowing, and How to Overcome it with Psychological Therapy & Counselling
What is Phagophobia?
The fear of swallowing is often linked to the fear of choking so you might be suffering from one or the other.
There may be a number of reasons why you developed Phagophobia, for example:
- You may have had negative experiences with swallowing pills in the past.
- You might have choked on something in the past which has left you feeling panicky about swallowing.
Although phobias are often described as ‘disorders’, there is no valid scientific evidence that Phagophobia is the result of any kind of biological fault or chemical imbalance as proposed in the biomedical models of mental illness.
On the contrary, Phagophobia is much more likely to be the result of your own, subjective evaluation (what you think your experiences mean) of what happened to you and is therefore better described as a psychosocial symptom.
Phagophobia Symptoms & Behaviours
All phobias, including Phagophobia, create feelings of anxiety because phobic objects or situations are always perceived as a threat.
Consequently, the symptoms of Phagophobia are both specific and generic and may include:
- Difficulty swallowing or a feeling of choking while eating or drinking.
- Avoiding certain foods or liquids due to fear of choking or discomfort while swallowing.
- Rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations when eating or drinking.
- Nausea or vomiting when attempting to eat or drink.
- Fear or panic when faced with food or the act of swallowing.
- Hyperventilation or shortness of breath when attempting to eat or drink.
- Anxiety or fear when thinking about food or the act of swallowing.
- Excessive worry about choking or having a medical emergency related to eating or drinking.
- Feeling Stressed.
- Difficulty breathing easily.
- Feelings of panic.
Moreover, you may have all, some or even different symptoms to these listed here and this is due to the subjective nature of Phagophobia.
Furthermore, you should also be aware that many of these somatic symptoms (symptoms felt in the body) listed above WILL subside over time and rarely last for more than 20 to 30 minutes.
What Causes Phagophobia?
it is likely that your Phagophobia is the result of either traumatic experiences or adverse situations that you experienced at some point in your life.
You may, for example, have choked on some food as a child and had to have someone use the Heimlich manoeuvre to get the blocked food out of your air passage – this can have been very frightening.
What’s more, because the Fear of Swallowing has never been linked to any biological factors, the most likely explanation for your Phagophobia is the way that you understood and made sense of your earlier experiences.
Is your phobia making you anxious or are you creating the anxiety?
It might be hard to accept, but it’s almost certain that the anxiety you experience when you encounter your phobic object or situation is being unwittingly created by YOU and NOT the thing you fear.
Find out more about the subjective vs objective nature of phobias here.
Counselling and Therapy for Phagophobia
We can offer you a number of different types of therapy and counselling for your Phagophobia the Fear of Swallowing.
Choosing the most suitable therapy depends on a number of different considerations including factors such as:
- How long you have had your phobia.
- Your personal preferences.
- How your phobia is affecting you today.
You can read more about the different types of therapy for Phagophobia on the following links:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Phagophobia
- Counselling for Phagophobia
- Pluralistic Therapy for the Fear of Swallowing
Although all forms of psychotherapy use slightly different approaches, the one thing they all have in common is the relationship that is formed between the client and therapist.
Furthermore, research also suggests that the therapy relationship may be the most important factor in achieving a good therapy outcome.
Behaviour Change Framework – BCF
All of our Phagophobia counselling sessions and programmes are enhanced by applying the Behaviour Change Framework (BCF).
This scientifically proven protocol clearly defines the incremental stages of behaviour change that you need to go through in order to achieve long lasting and sustainable change.
Drawn from the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change (TTM), the framework provides a roadmap that not only gauges the current stage of progression through the change process, but also indicates if more change is required before entering the next phase of therapy or coaching.
In this way, we are able to ensure that you get the best possible level of support in overcoming your problems as well as ensuring that we don’t terminate the change process prematurely.
You can read more about the Science of Change here.
Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.
During this consultation we will discuss your particular phobia and the different types of mental health counselling we offer without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.
The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.
Applied Psychology Solutions
If you’d like to learn how to overcome Phagophobia but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences with the CORE Programme.
If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.
Not Ready to Commit to Therapy Quite Yet?
Then why not see if you can solve your fear of swallowing using our comprehensive, Online Self-Help CBT course.
Written especially for people who prefer not to engage with a therapist before doing everything they can to overcome their problems.
Mirroring our in-house course of CBT, it contains everything that you need to know to tackle mental health challenges for only £149.
We offer counselling for phagophobia problems for people living in:
- West Midlands
- South Staffordshire
You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.