Anxiety causes physical as well as psychological symptoms. Nausea is one of the most common of the physical symptoms. Anxiety nausea typically happens because of the feeling of fear people experience with anxiety.
How Anxiety Causes Nausea
The body responds to anxiety in the same way it responds to stress. A cascade of chemical and hormonal events takes place that readies our bodies to either fight against the source of stress or flee from it. This occurs because the fear is so strong with anxiety.
One thing that happens with this flight or fight response is the stomach feels like it’s going to purge itself of whatever is inside so the person can run faster. This natural response can lead to anxiety nausea.
The increase of certain body chemicals and hormones also brings about the feeling of anxiety nausea. One of the chemicals released by the body when anxiety is high is adrenaline. This chemical is designed to increase the body’s energy, to give it a boost when it needs it to fight or flee.
Adrenaline interrupts your normal digestive process and inhibits the acids and enzymes needed for that process. This can lead to the feeling of anxiety nausea. The entire function of processing food is made more difficult due to this release of adrenaline. This can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, which also can bring on anxiety nausea.
Also a possible source of anxiety nausea is muscle tension. When you get anxious, your muscles tense, including those of your abdomen. This can cause your stomach to get squeezed, which can bring on more anxiety, as well as a feeling of nausea.
Emotions connected with events and activities can also bring on anxiety nausea. The butterflies in the stomach before standing in front of an audience will stimulate nausea. Going to a new school or new job for the first time can bring on the jittery feeling that can lead to anxiety nausea. Worry about meeting bills and having enough money left at the end of the month can be a source of longer lasting anxiety nausea. Even “good” stress such as getting ready for graduation can bring on nauseous feelings.
Even though anxiety nausea isn’t a serious physical condition, if it goes on and on you’re probably dealing with a situation of continuing stress. Become more aware of when the anxiety nausea hits. If it occurs regularly in a certain place or with certain people or a certain situation, you may want to look more closely to see what’s making you anxious with those people, situations, or places.
What Does Anxiety Nausea Feel Like?
Nausea is a common effect of anxiety. Most of the time, it’s not physically serious, and it doesn’t mean there’s something that needs a physician’s intervention. It can come with or without feeling the need to vomit. It’s unpredictable, so it can happen at the most inopportune time. For this reason, anxiety nausea can significantly interrupt your social, school, and work life.
When you feel anxious, the flood of chemicals and hormones that occurs naturally will interfere with your stomach’s functioning. One of the things that happens is the blood that normally goes to your stomach will be routed to the muscles.
When this happens, your stomach basically stops working. There’s no blood, thus no oxygen getting to the stomach. The normal chemicals in your stomach can’t do the work they’re there to do. The levels of these stomach chemicals may vary up or down without control. The muscles around your stomach may contract in a way that isn’t normal.
All of this leads to the feeling of anxiety nausea.
With this nausea, you might feel as if your stomach is bloated or full of air. You may have cramps or a churning feeling in your stomach. There may be the feeling that you need to rush to the bathroom. You might feel like you’re about to vomit. And you could want to remain very still, because you think any movement would make the anxiety nausea worse.
None of the over the counter nausea medications have any effect on anxiety nausea. It can come and go quickly as if nothing was ever wrong. This kind of nausea can also be accompanied by dizziness. One thing to keep in mind: The more you focus on anxiety nausea, the worse it gets.
What Can You Do About Anxiety Nausea?
There are a number of relatively simple things you can do to relieve the nausea. Keep in mind, however, that the best way to rid yourself of anxiety nausea is to deal with the source of your anxiety. That way, you handle the root of the problem and get rid of the symptom.
- When you do feel the nausea, there are some things to do for relief. First, don’t focus on the nausea. Doing this will only make if feel worse. Distract yourself with something that will take your mind off the feeling.
- Keep something in your stomach all the time. An empty stomach is as bad as an overfull stomach when you suffer from anxiety nausea.
- Be sure you don’t eat large meals. This keeps your stomach from being overly full and getting bloated. Digestion will go better with a stomach that isn’t too full.
- Don’t have alcoholic drinks with your meal. Try to abstain for a half hour before and after eating.
- Sip sugar-free soft drinks. These seem to bring rather quick relief from the symptoms of anxiety nausea.
- Jogging or some other type of physical exercise is good to deal with this kind of nausea. It relaxes you, releases endorphins, and burns up the adrenaline that can come with anxiety.
- Learn some deep breathing relaxation exercises. These can help you deal with immediate anxiety and lower the feelings of nausea. Practicing these exercises regularly will enable you to be more relaxed overall, and thus less anxious.
Since stress and anxiety can hit your body hard, it may take a while to return to normal. Keep on with whatever works for you in dealing with the anxiety. Persistence is good in this case.