Anxiety Nausea: What You Need to Know to Feel Better

Anxiety Nausea: What You Need to Know to Feel Better

What is anxiety nausea?
Anxiety is a response to stress and it can cause a variety of psychological and physical symptoms. When you feel overly anxious, you might notice that your heart rate speeds up and your breathing rate increases. And you might experience a bout of nausea.

During a moment of high anxiety, you might feel just a bit queasy. It’s that “butterflies in your stomach” feeling you might have before giving a public presentation or going on a job interview. This kind of nausea may pass in short order.

But sometimes, anxiety-related nausea can make you totally sick to your stomach. Your stomach churns so much that you have to make a dash for the bathroom. You may even reach the point of dry heaving or vomiting.

Everyone feels anxiety occasionally. It’s not abnormal and not necessarily a bad thing. But it can be problematic if you frequently feel anxiousness accompanied by nausea.

Read on as we explore anxiety-related nausea, ways to manage it, and when it’s time to see a doctor.

What causes nausea with anxiety?
Anxiety can trigger your fight or flight response. Basically, your body is preparing you to face a crisis. This is a natural reaction to a stressful situation and, when called for, can help you survive.

When you feel stressed or anxious, your body releases a rush of hormones. Neurotransmitters in the brain react by sending messages to the rest of your body to:

get the heart pumping faster
increase the breathing rate
tense the muscles
send more blood to the brain
Anxiety and stress can affect virtually every body system. This includes your cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, and respiratory systems.

In the digestive system, stress can cause:

nausea, vomiting
heartburn, acid reflux
stomachache, gas, bloating
diarrhea, constipation, painful spasms in the bowel
If you’re one of the 10 to 20 percent of Americans who have either irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or chronic upset stomach, feeling anxious might prompt symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), also known as chronic anxiety
panic disorder
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
social anxiety disorder
If you’re having this type of response often or for no apparent reason, it can negatively affect your quality of life. Anxiety disorders that aren’t addressed can lead to other problems, such as depression.

How do I make it stop?
The symptoms you feel due to anxiety are very real. Your body is responding to a perceived threat. Absent a true emergency situation, there are some things you can do help to control anxiety and nausea.

Coping with anxiety
When anxiety takes hold, try to focus on the present rather than stressing about what may happen later. Consider what’s happening in the moment and remind yourself that you’re safe and that the feeling will pass.

Take long, deep breaths. Or try to distract yourself by listening to your favorite song or counting backwards from 100.

It takes time for your body to get the signal that you’re not in immediate danger, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

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