What is Phagophobia, Know its Facts, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Phagophobia?

Food, water and medicine are the three important things which help in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and we all ingest them on a daily basis; especially food and water. Now, just imagine you are not able to ingest any of these items because you fear eating and the fear is very extreme. Such a condition where there is an irrational fear of swallowing or eating in a person is termed as Phagophobia. Phagophobia is a term that comes from Greek word “Phagein” which means “eat” and “Phobia,” means “fear”. This is a condition which may lead to other phobias and even several physical health issues. We will know about the symptoms and treatments of phagophobia in the following sections of the article.

What is Phagophobia?

Few Facts on Phagophobia:

  • Phagophobia is a psychogenic dysphagia, which is different from most other phobias as it does not necessarily have to be onset by any similar kind of anxieties.
  • Phagophobia may develop from any of the general anxiety and appear during a panic attack or also appear because of a stressful situation.
  • Though phagophobia does not have to be caused by a certain anxiety disorder, the fear of eating may cause more serious phobias to develop in the individual.
  • An untreated fear of eating or swallowing in phagophobia may lead to a fear of vomiting, or a fear of certain food, which may further lead to more severe complications causing severe damage to a person’s mental health and his social life.

Symptoms of Phagophobia:

Following are some of the symptoms of phagophobia.

  • Inability to take pills or the oral medications.
  • A sudden loss of interest in most foods or liquids.
  • Severe loss of weight.
  • Increase in general anxiety or depression.

Treatments for Phagophobia:

Exposure treatment options are offered in treating a patient with phagophobia, which shows surprising effects; when they are usually introduced to softer foods and softer liquids so as to ease their fear of swallowing or fear of eating. The prime focus of most therapies in treating phagophobia will be on chewing and making sure the food can be easily swallowed, followed by a drink of plain water. The types of foods will increase gradually in the density, until the patient is completely comfortable in eating and swallowing foods. Eventually, he or she may overcome the phagophobia.

It must be noted that in case the problem of phagophobia is severely causing disruption to your daily life or affecting your health negatively then do consult a health professional in your area so as to overcome your fear of eating or swallowing.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 21, 2017

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