It’s important to rule out medical causes to explain your swallowing problem. Once a medical explanation has been ruled out, you can then consider psychological treatment. It is possible that you have developed a phobia of eating. Phobias are highly treatable with both cognitive behavioral therapy and behavioral therapy.
The inability to swallow is a specific type of eating phobia. At the heart of the phobia is the fear of choking. Phobias are maintained by avoidance. Each time you avoid what you fear, your phobia is reinforced and strengthened.
Behavioral treatments include a gradual exposure to your fear through a desensitization program. These programs are devised by therapists who know precisely how to treat phobias. You can learn more about exposure therapy and systematic desensitization online or through a therapist.
Ask your parents to assist you in finding a behavioral or cognitive behavioral therapist who specializes in treating food phobias or phobias associated with the inability to swallow. Your parents might try searching for specialists on the Internet or by calling the 800 number on the back of your insurance card. They can also ask your doctors if they know of any phobia specialists. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle