Psychosomatics of Esophageal Spasm on a Nervous Basis

Esophageal spasm can arise from trauma, infections, burns, hard food, and several other causes. However, esophageal spasm often occurs on a nervous basis. This condition not only causes discomfort but also poses a threat to the patient’s life.

Anatomy of the Esophagus

The esophagus is an organ between the larynx and the stomach, a flexible tube about 25 cm long, passing through the neck, chest, and diaphragm. It is the beginning of the digestive tract. The esophagus transports food from the mouth to the stomach and prevents the reverse movement of food. Muscle contractions facilitate this transport, and two sphincters prevent reflux during swallowing.

Types of Esophageal Spasms and Their Symptoms

Esophageal spasm involves motility disorders combined with severe, spasmodic substernal pains. Spasms occur during swallowing and spontaneously, often resembling heart pains.


Diffuse spasm involves chaotic contractions of smooth muscles along the entire esophagus, while the lower sphincter maintains normal tone and reflexively opens during swallowing. It can be primary, caused by neurological disorders in esophageal muscles, or secondary, developing against the backdrop of hernias, ulcers, gallstone disease, and other conditions causing esophageal mucosal inflammation.


Involuntary muscle contractions occur not along the entire length of the esophagus, as in diffuse spasm, but only in certain areas, with intense contractions. Features include:

  • Difficulty swallowing vegetables and liquid food;
  • Moderate pain in the lower esophagus, subsiding gradually;
  • Spasm duration from a few seconds to three hours.

Nervous Spastic (Spasm on a Nervous Basis)

Spasm on a nervous basis can occur at any time, triggered by:

  • Nervous tension;
  • Anxiety;
  • Fears;
  • Sleep problems;
  • Depression;
  • Stress.

What Happens During Esophagospasm

Esophagitis is the inflammation of the esophageal mucosa. Psychosomatic causes include:

  • Inability to accept life as it is;
  • Simultaneous loss and acquisition of something;
  • Denial of problems, distress due to inability to share problems;
  • Feeling of hopelessness.

Esophagospasm is a diffuse spasm of the esophagus. Additional features include:

  • Spasms occurring during swallowing and spontaneously at any time;
  • Accompanying pain in the chest and between the shoulder blades, sometimes radiating to the neck, jaw, ears, arms;
  • Post-attack pain lasting from 10 minutes to several hours;
  • In some cases, prolonged pain, evolving into a sensation of a lump in the throat;
  • Pain intensifying in the face of emotional stress.

Psychosomatics of the Stomach and Intestines as Main Digestive Organs

From a psychosomatic perspective, the stomach and intestines are responsible for assimilating and “digesting” new information and experiences, as well as clearing the mind of negative emotions and unpleasant memories.


The stomach symbolizes the processing and assimilation of new ideas and situations. Stomach problems indicate an inability to accept or fear of the new. This usually involves new ideas from others or new rules, demands, conditions. Any change in the usual way of life, contradicting habits and plans, can provoke a stomach spasm. However, the main reason for such rigidity is excessive criticism and self-criticism.


The intestine symbolizes the assimilation of new ideas and thoughts and the discarding of the old and unnecessary. Constipation signifies an inability to let go of something, while diarrhea represents a desire to quickly get rid of or deal with something.

Symptoms of Esophageal Spasm

The symptoms of esophageal spasm include:

  • Sudden muscle constriction during swallowing;
  • Food retention in the esophagus, urge to vomit;
  • Vomiting undigested food pieces (distinct from other diseases). Neurotic spasm occurs regardless of food intake and has the following psychosomatic symptoms:
  • Chest pain and substernal pain;
  • Pain varying from mild discomfort and a sensation of suffocation to intense burning;
  • Feeling of a lump in the throat, hindering swallowing. Spasm and gag reflex may arise from fright, anxiety, neurosis, hysteria, panic attacks. Attacks last from a few seconds to several hours.

Psychosomatic Causes of Stomach Diseases

As mentioned, the stomach is responsible for processing thoughts, ideas, feelings. If a person cannot accept something (or someone), reconcile with a situation, or let go of something, they may become ill. Let’s look at common psychosomatic stomach and esophagus diseases.


Gastritis symbolizes a person’s fears and self-doubt. Louise Hay explains gastritis development as a feeling of uncertainty and doom, fear of the new. Vladimir Zhikarentsev sees the cause in a belief in bad luck and fate, and feelings of insecurity. Psychologists suggest solving the problem using affirmations: “I love and approve of myself. I am safe.”

Stomach Ulcer: Causes: complexes, self-criticism, fears, dependency on others’ opinions, desire to please others, self-aggression, guilt. A person with an ulcer is consumed from within, or rather, consumes themselves. V. Zhikarentsev suggests using the affirmation: “I love and approve of myself. I am at peace with myself. I am wonderful/beautiful.” Louise Hay names the same reasons and suggests the affirmation: “I love and approve of myself. My soul is at peace. I am a wonderful person.” Interesting! Ulcers are more common in men than women, believed to be linked to stronger self-esteem.

Esophageal Diseases

Esophageal diseases indicate a person’s poor reception of anything new. Such individuals exhibit rigidity and conservatism. They deny anything new even more quickly than those with stomach diseases. When plans are disrupted, and desires unfulfilled, an inner critic awakens, causing aggression and tension.

Swallowing Disorders

Swallowing disorders encompass a group of problems related to the act of swallowing, including:

  • Air swallowing;
  • Feeling of suffocation, pressure in the throat;
  • Vomiting neurosis (food reflux from the stomach to the esophagus). Swallowing involves muscle tension and relaxation. Due to certain psychological reasons, these muscles can malfunction. Psychosomatic issues: aversion to something (or someone), protest.

Globus Syndrome – Fear of Swallowing:

During an attack, the patient feels a foreign body in the throat, but diagnostics show no abnormalities. Swallowing becomes difficult, and there’s excessive throat pressure. Psychosomatic prerequisites: hysterical and hypochondriacal tendencies, depressive inclinations, conflicts, internal protest, suppression of personal desires.

Types of Food Neurosis, Symptoms

Neurosis is a disorder caused by psychological trauma. The most known forms of food neurosis are overeating and refusal to eat. However, esophageal spasm and gag reflex can also result from psychological trauma. There are three types of neurotic spasms: sensory, motor, and sensorimotor.


Unpleasant symptoms occur both during and outside of eating. Symptoms of neurosis include:

  • Burning sensation like heartburn;
  • Pain;
  • Feeling of pressure between the shoulder blades and behind the sternum;
  • Increased sensitivity to hot, cold, and spicy foods.


Dyskinesia – a disturbance in the motor function of the esophagus. Muscle activity or sphincter functionality is disrupted. Food gets stuck in the esophagus or its movement to the stomach slows down. Food may also move back up the esophagus.


Symptoms combine those of the first two types:

  • Feeling of a lump in the upper part of the esophagus;
  • Burning sensation;
  • Pain;
  • Food getting stuck or slow passage;
  • Gag reflex;
  • Chest compression.

Important! To treat food neurosis, it’s necessary to visit a psychotherapist. They will identify the exact cause, find old traumas, and develop a rehabilitation plan.

Why Esophageal Spasm Occurs and How to Treat It

Vladimir Zhikarentsev links esophageal problems to the destruction of personal beliefs and an individual’s inability to take from life what they need. The psychologist recommends using the affirmation: “I have enough of what I have. I stand firm on my feet.”

Barrett’s Esophagus – a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s a dangerous, pre-cancerous stage. Louise Hay among the psychosomatic causes mentions old wounds, resentments, and grief combined with hatred. The psychologist suggests the affirmation: “Filled with love, I forget and forgive my past. Approving and loving myself, from this moment, I fill my inner world with joy.”

Interesting! If a spasm complicates into cancer, other psychosomatic prerequisites are considered. Psychosomatics of esophageal cancer: dependence on personal desires, insistence on one’s own way, combined with suppression by others (other people prevent the realization of plans). This generates resentment and anger.

Digestive Disorders and Neurosis: Is There a Connection?

The neurotic need for total control (underlying esophageal spasm) leads to digestive disorders. Healing requires loosening control over oneself and others, learning to consider multiple solutions, and taking into account the opinions of others.

Treating Esophageal Spasm

Don’t automatically resist every new idea; it might change your life for the better. Stepping out of your comfort zone is always scary, but necessary for development. Avoid saying things like “this is wrong,” “this is unfair,” “what nonsense,” “we don’t do this,” “I don’t do this.” Develop tolerance, and your stomach will learn to digest food better.

If the spasm is caused by overexertion, calming drugs, psychotherapy, and lifestyle adjustments can help. If there’s a medical underlying cause, the primary disease must be identified and treated fully. The results can be consolidated with a special diet.

For prevention and recurrence avoidance, it’s necessary to stabilize the nervous system. Physiotherapy, massage, and physical activity can help.

Important! Treatment requires the comprehensive work of a gastroenterologist, psychologist, and dietitian.

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