Why Does My Anxiety Nausea Happen And Is It Real?

By Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated March 16, 2020

Reviewer Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC

If you're struggling with anxiety nausea, you don't have to deal with it alone. Most people wouldn't connect tummy troubles to worry, but nausea can be a very real and distressing side effect of anxiety. You deserve to lead a life free of the distress caused by this condition. When you're feeling peaceful, you're living your best life.

Work With A Professional To Understand What's Causing Your Anxiety And Nausea
You Don't Have To Suffer - Sign Up Today For BetterHelp

Source: pexels.com

The Reality of Anxiety Nausea

Often when our brains get overloaded, the stress can manifest in a physical way. When you experience nausea during or following a bout of anxiety, they can be related. The stress you feel from the havoc in your brain sends signals throughout your whole body, eventually reaching your stomach. The good news is, with the right help, you can overcome this condition.

Anxiety and anxiety-related disorders are among the most common mental health issues in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults. Because it is so common, much is known about treatment and recovery. Therapy has proved a successful means to combat anxiety nausea. While you won't be directly treating the nausea itself, you'll find that as your anxiety subsides, so will its physical manifestations. Some remedies your therapist might recommend include physical exercises, breathing exercises and herbal supplements. We will discuss these remedies later in the article.

How Anxiety Nausea Sets In

Your tummy rolls, your mouth gets moist, and you take a deep breath because you're certain you're going to throw up. You're already anxious, and this just makes it worse. Anxiety nausea is real, and for anyone with severe anxiety, they know just how frustrating it can be to add sickness to emotional distress. While nausea is more common than getting sick, it's a sign your body is under stress.

Does Everyone Get Anxiety Nausea?

The short answer is yes. While not everyone experiences anxiety on a regular basis, when it gets severe enough, the body is programmed to make you feel nauseous. Nausea is simply an unsettled feeling in your digestive system, mimicking the way your brain feels when you're stressed. In fact, anxiety is a form of stress caused by a spike in adrenaline which heightens our senses. Stress usually affects the whole body, and there isn't a single person who doesn't understand what being stressed feels like. You've probably heard someone say that worrying made them "sick to their stomach" and that's all anxiety nausea is. Not everyone who gets anxiety gets nausea regularly, and sometimes it's so minor, you can ignore it until it passes.

Source: pexels.com

Why Does Anxiety Nausea Happen?

Lots of things make us feel sick, and simply feeling like you're going to be sick isn't a disease itself. When anxious, the body responds with physiological, psychological, and biological ways to try and bring the anxiety down. The fight or flight mechanism that is triggered suppresses the digestion system to make more resources available to deal with the stressor. While this might be the main cause, over time, if stress is too high or too constant, the body remains in this state, which causes a constant suppression that leads to feeling "off" digestively. The lining of the stomach can become inflamed and irritated so that nausea happens with less of a stress response or all the time because it takes less of the stress response to trigger the irritation.

Just because you have anxiety, it doesn't mean you'll get anxiety nausea. It's often dependent on how stressed you are or how severe the anxiety. And just because you have anxiety nausea, it doesn't mean you're more anxious. It may simply mean that you are not coping with your anxiety as well as someone else who doesn't get nausea with anxiety.

What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety Nausea?

Obviously, you feel sick. The severity of how sick depends on two factors: how anxious you are, and how affected your body is. Some people might just feel a bit queasy, while others may vomit. Since it's just a symptom of being stressed, it's not something you have to be concerned about since it will pass once you've calmed down or taken medications. The only time you should be concerned is if it is a persistent, regular occurrence, or if it might have been caused by something else, like food poisoning.

Vomiting isn't fun, but this only happens with the most severe anxiety nausea. For most people, it's just a feeling, or even some dry heaving without being sick. If you're vomiting, you may also get symptoms of dehydration. When your body is about to vomit, it prepares itself by producing excess saliva in the mouth to protect the teeth from the stomach acid. You may also experience a few "practice" dry heaves that lets your body know what's coming.

Treating Anxiety Nausea at Home

Most of the time you can deal with anxiety nausea at home since the symptoms will pass once you're feeling calmer. If you can, avoid the things that make you stressed, or cut down your exposure as much as possible. Take measures that help you feel calmer. For example, breathing exercises, listening to music, taking a bath, or exercising. There are lots of things you can do to bring your stress levels down, even if you can't avoid the causes of your anxiety.

Physical Exercise. Jogging and exercise work well because they tire your muscles out, which forces them to relax and releases endorphins. Endorphins help you feel good and improve your mood, and your adrenaline levels deplete faster, helping control your anxiety. Physical exercise also regulates your hormone levels and can lead to more balanced body chemicals to reduce your daily anxiety and overall anxiety levels, so you may not even need any other treatment.

Work With A Professional To Understand What's Causing Your Anxiety And Nausea
You Don't Have To Suffer - Sign Up Today For BetterHelp

Source: pexels.com

Breathing Exercises. One of the most common coping exercises for dealing with anxiety is deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Deep breathing means taking controlled breaths slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth repetitively. The repetitive action helps to empty the mind and gives you something else to focus on so that you aren't dwelling on the source of your anxiety. Breathing in deeply through the nose and out through the mouth sends signals to your body that helps it understand the fear response is no longer needed. Exhaling for a slightly longer period than you inhale produces this effect more quickly.

Herbal Supplements. If you're still struggling to end that sick feeling, drink some ginger or mint tea. Both ginger and mint are good for the digestive system, and the hot water helps to relax the muscles of the stomach. There are some herbal supplements that work for nausea, including valerian, passionflower, and kava, though these are not advised for children or pregnant women and should be discussed with a doctor first. If you're taking prescription anti-anxiety medications, it's essential to talk with a doctor or pharmacist before taking these supplements.

There are also supplements that help address the anxiety itself. B vitamins, especially niacin, are especially popular for helping with anxiety and depression. Vitamin D, even if it's just from being outside in the sun for an hour or so, can help with anxiety and boost mood. Always discuss any herbal supplements you plan to take with your trusted medical provider to avoid additional stomach or other problems.

Eating. Eating foods which are gentle on the stomach-not too spicy, greasy, or salty-will also help to keep you feeling sick. Try to eat smaller portions rather than big meals, and keep yourself hydrated with plenty of water, especially if you're vomiting and not just feeling sick. Dehydration can also have anxiety as a symptom.

Over the Counter Antiemetics. Some people also take over the counter antiemetic medication like Dramamine to deal with persistent nausea, but you shouldn't do this for too long or too often. You should avoid medications like Pepto-Bismol or anything containing bismuth because this can end up stopping up your digestive system and dehydrating. They're intended for a different cause of nausea and work by coating the inside of the stomach.

Antihistamines like Benadryl are also not very helpful-but they can be used because they interfere with the part of the brain that sends messages to be nauseous, stopping them from getting to the digestive system. This will only work in very mild cases and may also make you sleepy.

When to See a Doctor about Anxiety Nausea

If you've been vomiting consistently for 24 hours, if you're getting anxiety nausea regularly enough that it's disrupting your life, or if it seems like it just won't go away, it's time to see someone. Vomiting itself is a serious symptom, so you want to go to a doctor if that's happening often. It can lead to damage of your esophagus if it's not treated.

Source: pexels.com

You should note when nausea happens, what's going on at the time, and what you've tried to do so far to help it.
Your doctor will likely do two things: prescribe you something for your anxiety, and something for your nausea. There's a variety of different drugs you're likely to get, but it's a good idea to doublecheck for any interactions. For example, prochlorperazine is linked with causing severe anxiety despite being an anti-nausea medication, so you might end up feeling even more anxious than before.

Will My Anxiety Nausea Go Away?

As soon as you stop feeling stressed or anxious, your brain will stop sending messages to your digestive system that suppress it, and everything will return to normal. Learning about what causes you to get anxious and how to calm yourself is the best option. If your anxiety is severe, then it's a good idea to get help from a therapist or professional so that you can learn better coping mechanisms. Anxiety nausea on its own isn't something to worry about unless it gets severe or frequent, so just try and relax as much as possible, and it will likely go away. Everyone is different, so it's important to find out what works for you.

How BetterHelp Can Help

Talking with a therapist or another licensed mental health professional can be very helpful in treating anxiety, including anxiety that produces an upset stomach. Search for providers who say they work with anxiety. BetterHelp is an online platform available to you that has trained counselors who use proven methods to ease anxiety and the accompanying nausea.

Anxiety can be triggered by going to a counselor or doctor's office, which is why BetterHelp is a great resource for those who need the security of a familiar environment. You can use the service in the comfort of your home, and there are plenty of counselors available, so you can be sure you find the right fit. See below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from clients experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Gregory was responsive, direct, and helpful during the time we worked together. I would recommend working with him if you struggle with anxiety. Very approachable and nonjudgmental methodology."

"Carmen has helped provide me with tools that help me better manage my anxieties and insight into reducing my stress and finding balance within the different activities in my life. She is supportive, encouraging, and helps me to see things from a more positive outlook."

Anxiety is never fun, and when it's combined with nausea, it becomes even more difficult. If you're ready to take control of your life and move on to a healthier and happier future, don't wait! Make that first step today.

FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why does my anxiety make me nauseous?

Anxiety can cause a variety of different physiological symptoms. Some people get headaches, whereas others feel body aches or tension in their muscles. Other people experience a racing heart, heart palpitations, or even dizziness. Anxiety and nausea often go hand in hand. The brain and gut are highly connected, which is the reason that anxiety and nausea do go together so frequently. It is a prevalent symptom of anxiety disorders, so if this is something you experience, you're certainly not alone.

Similarly, people with anxiety are statistically more likely to experience health diagnoses, such as IBS. When we're anxious, our body goes into a fight or flight state, which can cause nausea or the issues, as mentioned above, with a rapid heartbeat. Some people even throw up when they're anxious. Anxiety is a natural response to a real or perceived threat, and the body responses that follow are a reaction to that threat.

Anxiety can come with an abundance of different symptoms, and specific symptoms will vary from person to person. Stress and anxiety are different from one another, though it's common to confuse the two. One of the most common mental health diagnoses is Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD. It is a persistent kind of worrying. Another common anxiety disorder is Panic disorder, which is characterized by persistent panic attacks. Some people experience anxiety over specific things, such as social anxiety or health anxiety.

Is nausea a sign of a panic attack?

Nausea can be a sign that a panic attack is coming on, and it is also associated with high levels of anxiety. Nausea can be a symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder or panic attacks. It's essential to see a mental health professional so that you can receive the proper diagnosis. Many different diagnoses are considered anxiety disorders.

How do I stop being sick from anxiety?

The first step is to acknowledge that anxiety is what's making you ill. Then, you can start to work on symptom management. People with anxiety experience different effects, and one of them is feeling physically sick or nauseous. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions can have many different effects on the body. Anxiety and nausea commonly occur together. When you're experiencing nausea from anxiety, practice breathing exercises, and mindfulness, be aware of the feelings and thoughts you're having, and don't judge them. Acknowledge them and use grounding techniques. You're doing the best that you can, and that is good enough. Slowing down and reducing stress is the best thing that you can do for yourself, as anxiety makes your thoughts rapid and can be incredibly disorienting. Another thing that can be helpful is anti-anxiety drugs, which is something that you can talk to your doctor about, and get help.

What causes nausea every day?

You could be experiencing nausea due to anxiety. Still, it's essential to discuss this symptom with your doctor in case it is due to a physical health condition that is unrelated to anxiety. If you feel that it's anxiety, you can and should speak to a mental health professional. Still, it's always good to talk to your general doctor or a gastroenterologist to see if anything is going on with your body that might be causing or contributing to nausea. Rule that out because you want to be on top of your health and make sure that everything is okay.

What gets rid of nausea?

This will vary from person to person, and it's partially dependent on the cause of nausea. There are home remedies that can help, but when anxiety disorders or other health conditions cause nausea, the treatment of nausea can be a bit more complicated. In the cause that nausea is due to anxiety or anxiety disorders, treating your condition is likely the first step you'll have to take to combat nausea.

Why am I having anxiety attacks?

You could be struggling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic disorder, or other anxiety disorders that may come with anxiety attacks. It could also be related to stressors in your life rather than a long-term anxiety disorder. It would help if you spoke to a mental health professional so that you can get the correct treatment.

Does anxiety worsen with age?

Anxiety can worsen with age if you don't get it treated or if something triggers it in your life at any given time. It's essential to get yourself treated for anxiety so that it doesn't worsen over time. You can treat anxiety by going to therapy and taking medication if needed.

What vitamins should I take for nausea?

That's something to consult a doctor about because they can tell you what's going on with your system and help you determine if your nausea is related to anxiety or something to do with physiological or body issues. Some vitamin pills, such as ones that include iron, can increase nausea so that it something to be wary of and to discuss with your provider.

What does anxiety feel like?

Anxiety feels different for each person. It may feel like nausea, headaches, or racing thoughts. You need to figure out what it feels like for you so that you can start recognizing your symptoms when they first start coming on and develop coping skills or tools to help you combat them.

What cures nausea fast?

Sometimes, you can cure nausea quickly, but you can use the grounding techniques mentioned above. It's essential to be aware of what's contributing to nausea and cope with it in a way that works for you.

Is it normal to feel sick when tired?

Yes, you can feel sick due to tiredness. Your body is experiencing fatigue. You might get nauseous because you aren't sleeping enough, and sometimes, people with anxiety disorders do experience insomnia. That's another thing that's important to discuss with your therapist and doctor.

When should you go to the doctor for nausea?

If the nausea is chronic and is happening daily, it's essential to see a doctor and get that treated. Please don't ignore these symptoms as they could be the sign of something more severe. It may be related to anxiety, but it could be something physiological. Let a medical professional figure out what is going on.

What's the difference between stress and anxiety?

Stress is a natural part of life. There are periods where we have a lot going on and feel overwhelmed and stressed. Anxiety is also a normal part of the human experience. Stress and anxiety are disparate from one another, and it's important to note the differences. Both of these conditions impact our physical and emotional health. Some symptoms overlap, but the most significant difference between stress and anxiety is the nature of the experiences. Anxiety can come out of the blue. There doesn't necessarily need to be an underlying cause. Panic attacks could be triggered by trauma, or a physiological issue in the brain could cause them. It's best to speak to a mental health professional to see which of these conditions you are coping with at the moment.

What is high functioning anxiety?

While high-functioning anxiety is not a clinical diagnosis, however, it is something that many people experience. Some individuals find anxiety to be debilitating. Their feelings overwhelm them to the point where it's hard to function. Then others appear to be "fine" on the surface but are struggling hard with their anxious feelings. The later is an example of high functioning anxiety. A person could be going to work, spending time with friends and family, raising children, and engaging in hobbies they love, but they are experiencing terrible panic attacks. Others don't see their pain, but it's real. If you are living with high functioning anxiety, seek the help of a therapist. They can support you learning coping skills to manage your anxious feelings better.

Anxiety is never fun, and when it's combined with nausea, it becomes even more difficult. If you're ready to take control of your life and move on to a healthier and happier future, don't wait! Make that first step today.

Previous Article

Understanding Anticipatory Anxiety & How To Cope With It

Next Article

Proven Tips To Feel Better When You're Feeling Anxious For No Reason
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Counselor Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.