Fear of swallowing liquids: Hi everyone It... - Anxiety Support

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Fear of swallowing liquids

s4590
s4590

Hi everyone

It’s taken me a lot of courage to post on here as I feel so embarrassed. I have developed a fear of swallowing liquids in front of others. I am fine swallowing on my own and fine swallowing food, it’s just liquids. I know it’s not a physical problem and it’s all in my head and it’s been going on for over a year now. It’s ruining my social life and people notice I leave my drink untouched. I haven’t spoken to anyone about this and can’t find much online so reaching out to see if anyone has suffered/is suffering the same? Thank you :)

13 Replies
oldestnewest

Fear of eating or drinking in public can be a symptom of social anxiety. What are the thoughts you are having at the time. Did anything happened to you in the past related to drinking around others.

s4590
s4590
in reply to BlueSky125

Thank you for replying. I remember being in training at work last year and the room was silent and I was conscious people could hear me swallowing so now I’ve probably made a big deal of it in my head and now i’m scared in case I choke and my throat just closes up.

BlueSky125
BlueSky125
in reply to s4590

I would try to setup a list of actions you could do from ones that would cause you the least to most distress. This is a common technique for social anxiety , but works for specific areas also. So just as an example , you feel more avoidance being around co worker and less with family or friends. Or maybe just sitting alone with other people around you could be a first step. Also just taking a small sip of water could be part of a first step. Just come up with different situations and rate the level of avoidance you feel with each one. Then start with the lowest and work your way up.

Here is a example related to social situations , but the general idea is the same.

ai2-s2-public.s3.amazonaws....

s4590
s4590
in reply to BlueSky125

Thanks so much for your help BlueSky125 I will definitely give that a go. I feel so stupid and like I should be able to overcome it so easily but nothing I am trying seems to work. Think if this doesn’t work then next step is being brave and visiting my GP. Thanks again!

Sasical
Sasical
in reply to s4590

This used to happen to me. I overcame it by doing as BlueSky125 has explained. Starting with small steps and gradually getting confindent. Take that first small step, even come on here for some support when you are about to. You'll be fine x

s4590
s4590
in reply to Sasical

Thanks so much x it sounds so silly I wish I could just get back on track with my life. Will let you know how I get on x

Hello, s4590,

I am so sorry you are going through this, but based on what you have described, I am certain that what you are experiencing is OCD. And unfortunately, if it is left untreated, it has the potential of getting much, much worse. OCD is an anxiety disorder, so symptoms will always be driven by the underlying anxiety that the OCD creates. And the reason why this has been going on so long for you is because you are caught in a repetitive, intrusive thought pattern, which is a classic symptom of OCD. I have diagnosed OCD and when I was an adolescent, I went through a phase of OCD (The disorder tends to change form as time progresses and can take on different themes) where I was afraid to swallow, for fear that I would draw too much attention to myself.....and then it went from that into a fear that I would swallow too often or not be able to swallow when I tried to do so. I would just be sitting in class and if the teacher or anyone else would look at me, I would immediately start to get those thoughts. Thankfully, that particular phase of OCD didn’t last that long for me. But after those thoughts went away, my OCD thoughts just shifted to another theme and I got intrusive thoughts over other things.

With that being said, the best way to describe what OCD is, is intrusive thought patterns that cannot be stopped....thus the “obsessions” which are really just repetitive thought patterns.....and these repetitive thought patterns, or “obsessions”, can eventually lead to “compulsive behaviors” or “avoidance” of situations that tend to “trigger” the intrusive thoughts and or make those thoughts worse. This is also one of the reasons why OCD can sometimes be mistaken for Social Anxiety disorder. But Social Anxiety disorder can also co exsist, alongside of OCD. But the intrusive thoughts of OCD can certainly affect a person in social settings, as the intrusive thoughts can ramp up in those settings and cause feelings of fear in social settings that very closely resemble Social Anxiety Disorder.....but is not and is really OCD.

My advice is to have yourself screened for OCD by a qualified Counselor or Psychologist. And if you are not able to do that, there are free tests that you can take online that will screen you for OCD.

I hope my info helps shed some light on what you are going through and that you are able to get the help you need. Please feel free to PM me if you have any questions, or would like to talk further. All the best to you! 🌷

Hi MidnightBriarRose, thanks so much for your advice ❤️ it is really helpful. X

You are very welcome! Please keep me posted on how you are doing. Best wishes to you! 🌹🌹🌹

Hi, I experience this too. A technique that I learned, by chance when visiting someone in hospital. The nurse told me that when patients struggle to swallow, the action of putting the cup to your mouth is a signal to your brain that you need to swallow. If you take a mouthful of drink and it gets stuck in your mouth and you are unable to swallow it, simple take another small sip and let the natural swallow reaction happen. I found it really helps me in situations like meetings where you feel panic set in about swallowing. It's a helpful tool to have if you need it. Hopefully I've explained that well enough.

s4590
s4590
in reply to pblife

Thank you I will try this!

I experienced a phobia of swallowing from 19 to 28. I am 51 now. I was afraid to choke, so any meal and liquid was a real concern. I would anticipate mealtimes, and sometime end up not eating at all, or eating really little.

You are not stupid at all. You said that you experienced a time when you felt great concern drinking in public and since then, you can't do it at all. That is when it started.

Now you will experience to undo that belief. You named being preoccupied by the noise of drinking in public, that is what you are afraid of. Maybe there is other taught that you say to yourself. You are facing non rational taughts that is making you behave in that way. You can try to imagine the worst-case scenario, sometime that helps. Like you drink and everyone noticed, stands up and yell at you.

For the fear of choking, what helped me is to remember that swallowing is a reflex. I just have to let go (easy to say) and let that reflex do is job. I repeated that to myself. I also always spot a place where I could spit my food in case I choked. For you that could be into your glass if you feel that you can't swallow, put back the liquid in the glass.

You will build that confidence again to drink in front of people, the more you find strategies to work around that new fear. Sometimes, I would remind myself, it is just a fear, it is not reality. Good luck!

s4590
s4590
in reply to Canmen

Hi Canmen, thank you very much for sharing your experience and advice it is much appreciated. I will give your techniques a try. X

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