How To Calm An Anxious Stomach: The Brain
Ever wonder why you get butterflies in your stomach before doing something stressful? Or why you feel like your stomach is tied in knots after an argument? Ever had a meeting with a toilet that went longer than expected and it wasnt caused by anything you ate? Stomach problems are one of the most common symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Researchers have identified a powerful connection between the gut and the brain. Like the brain, the gut is full of nerves. It contains the largest area of nerves outside the brain with the digestive tract and the brain sharing many of the same nerve connections.
Whether its a single nerve-wracking event or chronic worry and stress over time, stress can exact a physical toll on your digestive system. When you are anxious, some of the hormones and chemicals released by your body enter your digestive tract, where they interfere with digestion. They have a negative effect on your gut flora and decrease antibody production. The resulting chemical imbalance can cause a number of gastrointestinal conditions.
Common stress-related gut symptoms and conditions include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- and peptic ulcers
Six Tips for Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Can Anxiety Cause Nausea
Many different things can lead to nausea. We dont know exactly why this happens, but it appears to be a bodily response to something that irritates or disrupts the natural state. Did you eat too much? Nausea. Did you get an illness? Nausea. Have you spun around in a circle? Nausea. You didnt get enough sleep? Nausea. Did you run too fast? Nausea. Certain illnesses are associated with nausea, and it also often accompanies feelings of disgust.
The evolutionary purpose of nausea is thought to be to notify a person of something and prevent the person from repeating whatever they just did. Although unexplained nausea is possible, nausea is generally your bodys way of telling you that it doesnt like something that occurred or the results of that action.
Nausea is triggered by internal signals. These signals can come from all over the body from the cerebral cortex to the chemoreceptor trigger zone to the peripheral and vestibular systems. The messages travel toward the brain stem, where they trigger a series of actions that ultimately lead to feelings of nausea and the movement of the contents of the stomach up the digestive tract.
It should come as little surprise that anxiety can also cause nausea. Its intensity is largely related to the causes and types of anxiety youre experiencing. Not everyone will experience nausea, but those who do may have mild to severe nausea.
Nausea is one of the most common anxiety symptoms. But why does it happen, and what can you do about it?
How To Tell If Nausea Is From Anxiety
Theres nothing worse than a persistent churning in your upset stomach. Nausea is no fun at all, especially when you dont know the source of the bad feeling. Anxiety is also an unpleasant experience, especially without anxiety therapy with a therapy matching service to connect you to the right people. If youre someone whos prone to both, you know all too well they can cause similar symptoms, making it difficult to determine exactly what youre feeling. Do you experience anxiety and also feel nauseous at times, but arent sure whether they are related? Can anxiety cause nausea? Well, the answer is, yes!
Anxiety can cause physical symptoms that range from a mild interruption of your daily flow to debilitating your life. Can anxiety make you tired? Simple anwer, yes. One symptom resulting from anxiety is what is known as anxiety nausea. And, just because you have anxiety, does not mean you will experience anxiety nausea. Often, its presence depends on how stressed you are or how severe your anxiety is, but everyone responds to anxiety differently. Since nausea is a symptom of being stressed, and tends to dissipate once the stress is gone, it is not something you have to be concerned about unless it is persistent or a regular occurrence.
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How Does Nausea Caused By Anxiety Feel
Youve probably had nausea many other times in your life from causes other than anxiety. Stomach bugs, food poisoning, eating a lot of junk food over the holidays, and so on.
Anxiety-induced nausea can feel similar to those.
But it can also feel different, and that can make it scarier than standard nausea. To help you to identify your nausea as a symptom of your anxiety it might help if you learn how anxiety-induced nausea can feel.
If your anxiety causes nausea, you may:
- feel like your stomach is cramping
- feel like your stomach is churning
- feel like your stomach is bloated
- feel like youre about to throw up
- feel like your stomach is full of trapped wind
- feel like you have butterflies in your stomach
- feel like you desperately need to use the bathroom
- feel like moving makes the sickness worse
On top of these feelings, anxiety-induced nausea also has a few other characteristics that make it different from standard nausea:
- it can appear quickly without warning
- it can disappear quickly like nothing was ever wrong
- it can get worse the more you focus on it
- it can occur at the same time as dizziness
- it often doesnt get better with standard nausea medicines
If a lot of these symptoms and feelings sound familiar, you can be pretty sure that what youve been experiencing is anxiety-induced nausea.
Now that youre aware of how this type of nausea can feel, take note of your symptoms whenever you feel nausea in the future.
Open A Window Or Sit In Front Of A Fan
Theres a reason you see carsick people with their heads practically hanging out of the car window. Fresh air eases nausea symptoms in many people, although its not clear why. It may get rid of sickening odors, or simply help you focus on something other than the nausea.
Try sitting in front of a fan or window at the first sign of nausea, especially if youre overheated.
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When To See A Doctor
If anxiety-related nausea is interfering with your quality of life and you cant manage it on your own, its time to see your doctor. If its not due to a medical condition, ask for a referral to a mental health professional.
Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at some point. There are steps you can take to lower stress and deal with occasional bouts of nausea.
There is help. Anxiety, nausea, and anxiety disorders can be identified and effectively managed.
Tips To Relieve Nausea
If your anxiety is causing you to feel nauseous, here are some tips that can help relieve nausea:
- Sip on an ice-cold drink, such as chilled water, fruit juice, or soda. Avoid caffeinated beverages.
- Sniff a slice of lemon or suck on a mint.
- Eat something bland, such as plain toast or saltine crackers. Avoid foods that are sweet, fried, or greasy while youre feeling nauseous.
- Lie down or sit in a comfortable position. Avoid sudden movements, as they can make you more likely to throw up.
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What Morning Anxiety Looks Like
There’s a difference between waking up and being in a bad mood because you don’t feel like going to work and having actual morning anxiety. Here are the signs of the latter, according to Dr. Saltz:
- A rush in adrenaline, such as a racing heart or increased jitteriness.
- Increased blood pressure.
- A sense of worry for no apparent reason.
- Feeling on edge, but you aren’t sure why.
- Exhaustion even though you’ve just slept.
As for why anxiety can strike in the morning, Dr. Saltz says there are a few factors at play that could cause morning anxiety:
1. You have higher amounts of stress hormones in the morning. “There’s actually a physiological reason why some people experience anxiety in the mornings,” Dr. Saltz says. “For one, it’s when cortisol levels are naturally at their highest.” She explains that cortisol is often called “the stress hormone” because high levels of it can lead to feeling stressed.
“There’s nothing you can do from stopping cortisol from raising slightly in the morningthat’s biologically what happensbut there are steps you can take to lower your cortisol over all so that it doesn’t peak as high,” Dr. Saltz says.
4. Morning anxiety could also be a sign of having general anxiety disorder. If you experience morning anxiety several times a week, Dr. Saltz says you likely have generalized anxiety disorder, which she says is extremely common. If this is the case, the key will be finding ways to quell your anxiety as a whole.
The Concerning Symptoms Of Anxiety And The Anxiety Loop
When stress hits and your heart rate increases, your breathing quickens or you start trembling, it can be alarming. So alarming that, in some cases, you might even feel anxiety about your anxiety symptoms. This can lead to a worsening of the anxiety you’re already feeling.
When anxiety hits, try to calm yourself with these tips:
- Take deep, controlled breaths
- Close your eyes and try to clear your mind
- Release tension from your body by relaxing
- Accept your anxiety, challenge the validity of your concern and try to shift your focus
If your symptoms become severe, including chest pain and/or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room even if you think it’s related to anxiety.
And, if you’re experiencing general anxiety more frequently than usual, consider talking to your doctor or finding a mental health provider especially if it’s disrupting your day-to-day life. He or she can help you understand why anxiety happens and what to do about it.
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How To Handle A Panic Attack
Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath, says it’s important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you.
“Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening,” he says. “Tell yourself that the symptoms you’re experiencing are caused by anxiety.”
He says don’t look for distractions. “Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, it’s important to try to remain in the situation until the anxiety has subsided.”
“Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing’s going to happen.”
As the anxiety begins to pass, start to focus on your surroundings and continue to do what you were doing before.
“If youre having a short, sudden panic attack, it can be helpful to have someone with you, reassuring you that it will pass and the symptoms are nothing to worry about,” says Professor Salkovskis.
How To Get Rid Of Nausea From Anxiety
This article was co-authored by Dr. Niall Geoghegan, PsyD. Dr. Niall Geoghegan is a Clinical Psychologist in Berkeley, CA. He specializes in Coherence Therapy and works with clients on anxiety, depression, anger management, and weight loss among other issues. He received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 68,461 times.
Nausea can be a common symptom when experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, or pain.XResearch source Some people experience nausea-related anxiety before a performance or in car rides. Some people have a fear of vomiting, and in turn, become nauseous in the anxiety of avoiding vomiting. To reduce nausea from anxiety, the best course of action is to reduce your stress and anxiety.
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How Does Anxiety Affect Your Body
Anxiety affects your body in different ways that are defined as anxiety symptoms. When you feel overly anxious, many people feel a constriction in their pulmonary and respiratory systems, noticing an increase in their heart rate, a heaviness in the chest, or difficulty breathing. Others manifest their stress in their digestive system, with nausea, indigestion, stomach cramping, diarrhea, and sometimes vomiting. The severity of the discomfort can range.
Anxiety is a natural response to danger or a threat. It happens when the brain releases neurotransmitters to prepare the body for fight or flight. When some of these neurotransmitters get into the digestive tract, they upset the gut microbiome, and this can cause stomach symptoms that include nausea. During a moment of high anxiety, you might feel just a bit queasy, like 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 be brief, while other instances of anxiety-related nausea can make you totally sick to your stomach. Your upset stomach churns so much that you have to make a dash for the bathroom, even reaching the point of dry heaving or vomiting.
Is Nausea A Symptom Of Anxiety
We tend to think of anxiety as a condition that provokes emotions like unease, worry, fear, stress, and panic. However, its important to understand that anxiety disorders are in fact health conditions that can cause physical symptoms as well.
Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety include sweating, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, tense muscles, nausea, and other digestive issues, says Alexandra Fuss, PhD, a gastrointestinal psychologist at Yale School of Medicine.
Everyone experiences these symptoms differently. For instance, you may have butterflies in your stomach before a big test or meeting. Or, you may feel slightly queasy at the prospect of taking a flight or riding in a crowded elevator.
In severe cases, your stomach may churn, you may get stomach cramps, or you may end up gagging, dry heaving, or throwing up when faced with anxiety-provoking situations, such as public speaking.
While its normal to feel anxious from time to time, anxiety that is persistent and overwhelming can make it difficult for you to go about your daily life. Symptoms like nausea can make anxiety harder to cope with.
This article explores the physical effects of anxiety, the connection between nausea and anxiety, and some treatment options and coping strategies.
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