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Suggest treatment for difficult in eating due to anxiety

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Practicing since : 2003
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I suffered a bout of severe gastritis about a month and a half ago. I now have extreme anxiety about eating and have lost a lot of weight. Every time I sit down to eat I get very anxious and have to force myself to eat which doesn't help the dingeses time process. I am seeing a psychologist and taking xanax (0.25mg) for anxiety. I just started 5mg Lexapro today so I can wean off the xanax. Do you have any suggestions to help me overcome this fear of eating. I have had a CT Scan of the abdomen and a gators copy with biopsies. All were normal.
Posted Sun, 9 Mar 2014 in Anxiety and Stress
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 2 hours later
Brief Answer: Combination of CBT and anti-anxiety medication... Detailed Answer: Hello and welcome to Healthcare Magic. Thanks for your query. I understand that you must be going through a difficult time due to your eating problems. From the description of your symptoms, it indeed appears that you are suffering from an anxiety-related problem. The fact that all your investigations, including a CT scan are normal confirms this. The problem that you are experiencing is not uncommon. Often, persons who have recently gine through a traumatic experience tend to develop anxiety / fear and subsequently may try to avoid similar experiences or even events that may remind them of the past traumatic experience. Now, as you may be aware, the mind and body are interlinked and function together. So, when there is anxiety in the mind, then this affects the bodily functions like eating and digestion. Regarding treatment for such problems, psychological therapy would be the most appropriate and effective strategy. Specifically, a type of therapy called CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is very effective and beneficial. This has two components. One is the 'Cognitive' part which aims at changing the negative, anxiety causing thoughts.The other is the 'Behavioural' part, which aims at modifying the actions and behaviour. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, etc can also help in relieving anxiety. Try to formulate a diet plan with your psychologist, starting with smaller quantities and then a gradual, step-by-step increase in your food intake. Try to avoid forcing yourself to eat large quantities as it may only worsen your anxiety and eating problems. Combining medication with psychological therapies have been found to a very effective. So, SSRI anti-anxiety medication may be a good substitue to Xanax as they are not addictive and are quite effective. Don't worry, be persistent in therapy and a combination of CBT and anti-anxiety medication would help you overcome your problem. Wish you all the best. Thanks and regards, Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar Consultant Psychiatrist.
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