Anxiety is a normal human emotion that comes with several symptoms. For most people who suffer from regular anxiety there are four common question they ask when they visit our clinic:
“Can nausea be caused by anxiety?” “How to stop throwing up from anxiety” “Why does anxiety cause nausea?” “How to tell if nausea is from anxiety”
We will explore all the symptoms of anxiety attacks in
details. We will go deep into the relationship between anxiety, nausea and
vomiting. Nausea and vomiting in anxiety especially for people who get regular
attacks can be debilitating.
In addition, for people with anxiety, there are some other
common issues about symptoms that they ask in our clinic including chest pain
and anxiety, headaches and anxiety and how long do anxiety attacks last.
What does anxiety mean?
Anxiety is how your body responds to a stressing situation.
It is a moment of fear, worry and nervousness about something that is above to
happen together with accompanying physical changes such as increase in blood
Anxiety is a normal human emotion which helps the body to
know how to act in situations of imminent danger. The body when exposed to
danger triggers a fight-or-flight response which determines the next course of
The anxiety moment comes with some changes in the body
including increased heartbeat, sweating, chills and being sensitive to the
events happening around you. It may cause distress to be anxious, but it is not
guaranteed to be a medical problem.
Anxiety is always experienced when met with a new situation
like your first day at school or an interview, going on a date or giving a
speech. It may also be about family problems, finances, work, health and
others. These situations may not be the fight-or-flight events that faced our ancestors,
but the anxiety helps to come through the situations in most times.
Excessive anxiety however is a mental disorder that lowers the quality of life. Chronic excessive worry, fear, nervousness and apprehension are some of the symptoms that symbolizes anxiety disorder. It is important to know the differences between anxiety and anxiety disorder.
For anxiety disorder, it is recommended that you seek for
help from a qualified physician. The doctor will explain how to manage the
symptoms and the treatment options available for the disorder.
Can anxiety cause nausea?
When most people experience anxiety, for example before
making a speech, sitting for an exam or driving the car alone for the first
time, they always say that they have ‘butterflies in the stomach’. The moments
of high anxiety bring about queasy feelings that people refer to ‘butterflies
in the stomach’.
These nausea feelings in people with anxiety do not last for
long. However, in some individuals, anxiety caused nausea can be troublesome to
the point of vomiting. This is because of stomach movements that can make you
to throw up.
Since anxiety is a normal human emotion and it affects
everyone, the feelings of nausea might be a normal if it does not happen too
What causes nausea in anxiety?
The normal human emotion, anxiety, triggers a fight-or-fight
response in your body. That response helps you to deal with an imminent crisis.
This reaction happens so fast so that the body can fight or escape the danger.
The fight-or-flight mechanism involves production of
hormones in the body. The brain uses neurotransmitters to get the body prepared
for the action by:
- A message to the heart to start pumping faster
- Messages to the lungs to start breathing faster
- A message to the muscles to increase the tension
- An increase of blood flow to the brain
- Prepare almost all body system including increasing the metabolism, skin and others
Since almost all body systems are affected, the effects on
the digestive system include:
- Nausea and in some cases vomiting
- Acid reflux
The nausea and vomiting effects are even worse in people
with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic upset stomach. People with
those conditions, who are approximately 10 to 20 percent of Americans,
experience nausea and vomiting almost every time they have anxiety.
Nausea is also common in the following anxiety disorders; generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), specific phobias, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All these disorders if not managed can make you develop other conditions either mental disorders like depression or physical conditions.
How to tell if nausea is from anxiety
There are simple ways on how to tell if nausea is from anxiety. The main way to know is to simply check when it occurs. If the nausea occurs during periods of high anxiety then it is caused by anxiety.
Also nausea from anxiety most is able to pass in short order. This is because once the body is used to the anxiety trigger or symptoms, the body is able to adapt.
However, the nausea may not only cause “butterflies in your stomach” but may even cause dry heaving or vomiting. Some people end up throwing up to relieve anxiety.
There are some anxiety disorders that are mainly associated with causing nausea as a symptom. The anxiety disorders that may cause nausea include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (Chronic anxiety/ GAD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Other symptoms of anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders which present as panic attacks and anxiety
attacks together with the accompanied periods of fear, worry or uneasiness
present with the following symptoms:
fear, and uneasiness
- Sleep problems
sweaty, numb or tingling hands or feet
of breath and chest pain
muscles and getting fatigued easily
And how to stop nausea or throwing up from Anxiety
Like in other symptoms, nausea caused by anxiety can be
controlled. If the nausea is caused by an imminent danger, then that is a great
body reaction. However, if there is no imminent danger, the nausea and other
symptoms must be controlled or treated.
Nausea and emesis in anxiety can be controlled in two ways; coping with anxiety or coping with emesis and nausea in anxiety. Dealing with anxiety will most definitely work on the accompanying symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
Coping with nausea
There are several ways of coping with nausea and emesis
caused by anxiety. These include:
- Foods: When nauseated take a little quantity of dry food like plain bread or biscuits while also avoiding fried, oily and sugary foods. Also do not mix hot and cold foods like a hot meal with cold soda or water. When vomiting however, do not take any foods until the vomiting ceases.
- Water: Slowly take some water when nauseated or vomiting. If water is unavailable, take something clear and cold. If vomiting this will help in replenishing lost fluids in the body.
- Clothing: Avoid wearing tight clothes that can constrain the abdomen. Loose clothes will reduce acid reflux in the stomach.
- Breathing: Take calm long, deep breaths. This will enable the body to relax and reduce nausea feelings
- Physical activity: Avoid intense exercise or work. If possible, take a rest to get the feeling to pass.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine: When feeling nauseated or vomiting, it is recommended that you limit coffee or alcohol even though hydration is important.
Some people however result to throwing up to relieve anxiety. This may be a solution to reduce nausea and anxiety since it helps to reduce the “butterflies in the stomach.”
Coping with anxiety
Nausea can be caused by anxiety. To mitigate against anxiety
in the long term, the following can be done:
exercise: The body during exercises does several things that can help in
preventing or coping with anxiety. Exercise helps the body to be healthy and
strong. Exercise also helps the body to regulate the brain chemicals. Exercise
is a great method to cope with anxiety.
- Eat a
balanced diet every time: Taking a healthy diet every day helps the body to
heal and also helps in the functioning of all body systems. This also helps the
brain to maintain the proper balance of chemicals such as hormones,
neurotransmitter and others.
about anxiety: Letting your family, friends or doctor know about anxiety
goes a long way in helping you to cope with the anxiety. Family and friends may
help in giving you the right conditions to calm down and relax while the doctor
is able to recommend the best ways to keep the anxiety away.
- Limit the
intake of coffee, alcohol and other drugs: Alcohol and coffee reduce the
capacity of the brain to keep a balance in brain chemicals. This makes someone
more susceptible to anxiety attacks.
relaxation techniques: Techniques such as meditation and yoga can help you
to deal with anxious moments. The relaxation techniques may also be listening
to a calming music or getting a massage. Aromatherapy or breathing exercises
may also help to relieve the anxiety symptoms.
more about anxiety: It is important to learn about anxiety in order to know
how to prevent an attack or how to get relief from anxiety symptoms. Materials
are available for you to learn about anxiety including books, games and
discussion with a psychologist.
enough sleep every day: Sleep is a natural body process that help in
regeneration, healing and regulation of brain chemicals. With enough sleep
often, the body is able to keep all the systems running well in addition to
keeping a proper balance of brain chemicals.
Nausea can be caused
by other causes like infections from bacteria or viruses. It may also be an
indication of other underlying medical condition.
excitement can also be a cause of nausea and vomiting. The two reasons show the
different extremes of human emotion. For us excitement is a good reason for
nausea while stress is not.
A game that young
children like playing, spinning around, can also cause nausea. Children love
the feeling of dizziness that results from spinning around and this may also
result in nausea.
Eating some foods
can also cause nausea. Oily foods or even in situations where one overfeeds may
cause nausea. This in some cases also lead to vomiting.
Taking alcohol and
drugs can cause nausea. It is very common to see a drunk person vomiting either
due to having too much in the stomach or the general feeling of nausea that
accompanies taking of alcohol.
Having a headache
can cause nausea.
Finally, for some
people, not getting enough sleep can cause nausea and vomiting.
There are a million
things that can cause nausea and subsequent vomiting in the human body. It is
therefore important to learn how to cope with nausea even if the nausea is not
caused by anxiety.
How to treat anxiety
Can anxiety disorder be cured? Anxiety disorder is a
treatable human disorder. It can be treated using the following methods:
Use of medications
In the management of anxiety, there are fast-acting medication for panic attacks and long-term medication. The medications vary in the time they take to work, the side effects, the effects on the anxiety and their mode of action.
The fast-acting medication for panic attacks are benzodiazepines, GABA and beta blockers. The other medications will take a longer time for the effects to be felt including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, other anxiolytics like buspirone and antidepressants.
Psychotherapy is a talk therapy that is very effective for panic attacks and anxiety attacks. The psychologists work in combination with the patient to learn ways on how to cope with anxiety, manage it or prevent anxiety attacks. Some good examples are cognitive-behavioral therapy and transdiagnostic treatment.
The bottom line
Nausea can be caused by anxiety, but it is also manageable and treatable. If it happens regularly, anxiety caused nausea and vomiting, can markedly lower the quality of life. In this case it is good to see a doctor.
On how to tell if nausea is from anxiety: if the nausea accompanies periods of high anxiety then you might be having anxiety nausea. In some of those people, they result to throwing up to relieve anxiety.
The best way to deal
with it is to deal with anxiety in the first place which can be accompanied by
managing the nausea. The management of anxiety goes a long way in making sure
other symptoms that are caused by anxiety are managed.