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Shippy's avatar

Are there any other sufferers of Pharmacophobia?

Asked by Shippy (9852 points ) July 26th, 2012

OK, I had written a few posts prior to this not realizing I had this Phobia until today.

It is the fear of taking pills or medication. It can involve the fear of swallowing them, or the fear of the medication itself.

How are you managing if you have it? I am in a state as I have a course of tablets I cannot take, I have tried for a week now. I will try again tomorrow. I know failure!

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9 Answers

andreaxjean's avatar

When I was younger I was afraid to swallow pills. That lasted up until I was 18. I was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder (not because of the fear of swallowing pills) and my doctor prescribed me the liquid form of fluoxetine. It was disgusting.

I don’t have as much of a problem with pills now. However, I often gag and sometimes it takes more than one try to swallow them (even with water).

wundayatta's avatar

I would talk to my shrink to see if there is some alternative way of delivering the pills. Maybe you can grind them up and mix them with honey and eat them. But you have to be careful because sometimes if you change the delivery system, you change the effectiveness of the drug. For example, if you have extended release, I don’t think you’d want to do that without checking with a pharmacist.

At my bipolar group, last night, I found out that a lot of people are changing their drugs and dosages, based on their own experience. Two women found that the supposedly lowest therapeutic doses were still too much for them. They could get help from smaller dosages. So one woman was opening up the capsules, and taking out a few grains, and then taking that (not sure how). She said she did this with her psychiatrist’s collaboration. She said she’d had to go through many psychitrists before she found one who would cooperate with her on this.

Others change dosages without telling their psychiatrist. I say you can’t argue with what works. So if you experiment on yourself, you may find a system that works despite not being officially approved. It’s a bit scary to me, being the “good boy” that I am, to break the rules, but I think it’s important to be well.

So don’t be afraid to generate new ideas and to try them, if they seem safe enough. Better done in consultation with a shrink, but if they won’t cooperate and they don’t give you good reasons why not, then people do experiment.

Buttonstc's avatar

Mine isn’t so much a phobia (an irrationally disproportionate fear) as much as it is knowing I have a smaller than average esophagus. Pills get stuck. Not a great experience.

So I have plenty of pill splitters (and even a pill crusher which reduces it to powder) and I chop it as many times as necessary to reduce it to a manageable size.

When I had pneumonia the antibiotic was HUGE so I had to divide into 16 pieces. But I needed it. You just do what ya gotta do.

There are meds which I must take several tomes a day now, so its just routine for me. If someone else thinks its strange, well its my throat not theirs. Nobody else gets a vote on how I get my pills down.

Every drugstore I know sells all different kinds of pill splitters for a few bucks. Go get a few. Problem solved.

Or, if you don’t mind the extra expense, ask your Doctor to prescribe it in liquid form. It may not taste the greatest but gets the job done. And a drink of juice or coffee washes away the taste. There are VERY FEW meds which cannot be dispensed in liquid form (mostly time-release formulations) so of shouldn’t be a problem.

Call up your Doctor and ask him to authorize it for liquid. Problem solved.

Trust me, there will come times I’m the future when of won’t me optional and your life may depend upon it. Might as well get in practice and find a method that works for you.

If you don’t trust medications, that’s a whole different problem. Then you will definitely need a good therapist.

You didn’t really specify WHY you have the problem so I’m trying to be thorough.

Shippy's avatar

@wundayatta That is exactly what I am thinking of doing, taking a few granules and seeing it’s affect on me. Not sure how realistic this is, if this is a good plan or not, but it has worked for me in the past. I have a fear of what the med will do to me. Once it is down and it is OK, I am eternally fine with that medication.
The swallowing a battle a little, sometimes a lot, I just find chewing it helps if possible @andreaxjean possible the meds you are on now, cover anxiety? and this has helped?

Shippy's avatar

@Buttonstc I fear the affect of the medication on me. I have had bad experiences in the past. I was thinking about it all day because, one of the literatures asked one to pin point a specific bad experience with a med, that could have contributed to this phobia.

For me it had to be when I came off a very potent drug which had been prescribed to me and shouldn’t have on a long term basis. Because the withdrawal was so bad I had to go to hospital. I remember lying in a limbo crying for help that I felt so bad, but the nurses just put it down to the withdrawal and walked off.

Plus they gave me a compound to help me which made matters worse. It was the worse two weeks of my life, as no one was listening. So now, I feel that once I have taken the med I am trapped and I cant escape any bad feeling or reaction I might feel.
Plus I read up on it, which of course is terrifying enough.

andreaxjean's avatar

@Shippy No, I stopped taking all medications beck in September. The problem I had with swallowing pills was I knew what the pills were for so I had this psychological block in my brain telling me that the pills were bad and I didn’t need them. All I had to do was put them on my tongue and I would start to gag. I really didn’t think it was necessary for me to take them which is why my brain was saying “Stop!”

I started just doing one pill at a time and I found that if I took them while I was eating, with a little bit of food in my mouth, it was easier to swallow.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I have deep revulsion at swallowing pills, although I get over it when in extreme pain (Wisdom teeth removal was the last time.) I used to take all sorts of pills (Vitamins, antibiotics, whatever) at my parents behest, but since I’ve reached adulthood I’ve probably swallowed a grand total of five pills. And don’t even think about sticking me with a needle and inserting some strange substance into my body. Not a fan. The idea is just so gross to me.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I hate taking any kind of medications- barely ever take an aspirin, I did read the Big Pharma expose book, and I firmly believe there is a natural cure for most things that ail you. However, when it comes tosome issues, such as cancer treatment, etc… palliative care (end of life care), I think it may be easier to pass in a haze if that is your choice.

JLeslie's avatar

I have this inclination.

I have a lot of trouble swallowing pills. I look at a pill size before I walk away with it from the pharmacy. Just a week ago I had to ask they give me two pills half dose to take at once, so I would not be freaked out. The half dose was much smaller, a little more expensive, because it is double the amount of pills. Some pills you cannot just double the dose because of other properties in the pill. I buy chewables quite often if available. I also look for capsules or coated pills. I once had a generic ibuprofen pill almost burn a hole though my esophogus – literally – I have photos from the emergency endoscopy of the huge ulcers as that pill laid in me over night in the wrong spot, not having gone down well. I now only take advil with the candy coating, eat a little with a full glass of water, and never had another problem. Finally suffered enough to have pictures to prove to people I really do have a problem. I had wanted to buy some advil instead when it was prescribed but my husband made me feel bad that the script was free, much like my father had dismissed my swallowing trouble in my early years. Not being able to swallow pills is very misunderstood by most people and dismissed as not being serious. Now that I am 44 all those condescending not understanding people can take a flying leap.

I have become better at swallowing pills as I grew older, but it is still a little nerve racking. I do have a very strong gag reflex, that is a simple fact, something like 30% of the population doesn’t even have one from what I have read, and they I assume can swallow handfuls of pills. I am not sure if that is really the difference between those of us who have trouble swallowing or not, but it kind of makes sense to me. Just having my throat examined by a doctor to say ah freaks me out, less so now that I am older.

I never take a new pill if an old one I know I have taken before will work. If it is new for me, I still try to get something that has been around for a long time. I believe every medication has a side effect of some sort, some fairly benign, some more dramatic.

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