Why Does My Anxiety Make Me Feel Sick
Anxiety can affect you in many ways, both mentally and physically. If you deal with anxiety, then chances are you’ve felt sick or nauseous in stressful situations before.
But what exactly causes anxiety nausea, and what can you do to prevent it? Don’t worry, because we’ve got all the answers right here.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at anxiety nausea, from what causes it to how it impacts the body.
We’ve also included some handy tips and tricks for dealing with stress-related sickness, to help you stay on top of your anxiety.
What Is Anxiety Nausea?
As the name suggests, anxiety nausea is a feeling of sickness and nausea brought on by stress and worry.
Stress nausea is caused by your body’s response to stressful situations, where physiological reactions such as jitters and a racing heart lead to a sick feeling.
Anxiety-related nausea is different from other types of nausea in that it can be triggered by anything that makes you anxious or worried about something.
It might be a situation at work, an upcoming exam, or other stressful stimuli.
General feelings of anxiety can also induce this sick feeling, and people who suffer from anxiety might feel physically nauseous or unwell on a bad day.
While anxiety nausea is a deeply unpleasant experience and can even lead to vomiting or other symptoms of illness, it isn’t an indicator of something dangerous.
These symptoms are brought on by your body’s fight-or-flight response and nerves and aren’t a sign of a disease, virus, or other types of sickness.
If you’re concerned about anxiety nausea, don’t worry; while it’s tough to deal with, it’s only temporary, and there are several things you can do to reduce or even eliminate the feeling of anxiety nausea.
How Does Anxiety Affect The Body?
Anxiety affects the body in many ways. When you’re stressed out, your body releases many hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline causes your blood pressure to rise, which increases your heart rate and makes you more alert.
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, increases your alertness and makes you more anxious.
In addition to these two hormones, your body produces another hormone called serotonin.
You might know serotonin as one of the chemicals linked to happiness, but an excess of serotonin can actually increase your anxiety and cause restlessness and irritability.
These hormones have a big effect on the rest of your body.
An increase in adrenaline will raise your blood pressure and heart rate, making you feel lightheaded and dizzy.
This sensation is what we call “the jitters”.
Excess adrenaline also causes your muscles to spasm involuntarily; this can cause palpitations of the heart, twitchy limbs, or (in the case of anxiety nausea) a churning stomach.
Meanwhile, too much cortisol can leave you anxious and restless. Because cortisol increases your alertness, it puts you in danger mode.
This leads to more tension in your muscles, and makes you jumpier.
Cortisol also causes shortness of breath and increased blood flow, which can both make you feel dizzy and nauseous.
As mentioned before, these hormones are linked to the body’s fight-or-flight response as well as its general response to stressful stimuli.
When the brain involuntarily releases these chemicals into your body, they cause several physiological changes that can lead to nausea and sickness.
A combination of increased heart rate, dizziness, and a churning stomach caused by muscle spasms leads to feelings of nausea and the risk of vomiting.
Tips For Dealing With Anxiety Nausea
While dealing with anxiety nausea can be hard, there are ways you can reduce the unpleasant sensation and even prevent yourself from feeling nauseous in the first place.
Here are a few handy tips and tricks for dealing with anxiety nausea that will help you stay on top of your anxiety.
Anxiety medication and antiemetic (medicines that treat nausea/vomiting) are effective ways to deal with anxiety nausea, but shouldn’t be used as a crutch.
Relying on these medications over time can have negative effects on your body in the long run, so try to avoid using them every time you start feeling nauseous.
With that said, however, medications are useful and helpful and are a highly effective way to treat nausea when you need them.
Practicing mindfulness when you’re feeling anxious can be tricky, but keeping yourself grounded and will reduce feelings of anxiety and nausea.
Breathing exercises will help regulate your breathing and reduce your heart rate, making you steadier.
Other mindfulness exercises, such as grounding and even meditation, can help reduce stress and quell your nausea.
Stay Hydrated and Eat Light
When your stomach’s upset, the last thing you want is something heavy and unhealthy sitting in your gut.
Eat something light to help settle your stomach, avoiding excessively greasy, salty, and fatty foods.
These are harder to digest and will upset your stomach even further.
Instead, have something small, light, and dry, such as some crackers or plain bread.
Drinking water will keep you hydrated, as well as help to cool you down.
Drinking also helps to regulate your breathing and slow your heart rate, two of the things that cause nausea.
Having a healthier diet overall is beneficial to your mental and physical health, and can reduce the effects of anxiety nausea in the long-term.
It might sound counterintuitive to exercise while you’re feeling nauseous, given that it raises your heart rate and can worsen an upset stomach.
However, getting some light exercise if you’re starting to experience anxiety nausea is an effective means of heading off the symptoms.
While going for a run is probably ill-advised, light exercise such as stretches or a walk can loosen your muscles, get rid of pent-up energy, and regulate the amount of adrenaline your body produces.
Sleep matters, and developing a good sleep routine can massively improve your physical and mental health.
While anxiety can make it difficult to get good rest, over time it will be easier to stick to a set sleeping pattern.
This will have some great results, helping to lessen your anxiety and improve how your body deals with stress-related nausea.
While these are some great ways to manage anxiety and reduce feelings of nausea, there aren’t really any quick fixes to make you feel better straight away.
Many of these, such as healthy eating and a good sleep routine, are more rooted in making you feel better in the long term.
Anxiety won’t just go away with a quick trick, but taking care of yourself at the moment and in the long run will make it easier to stay on top of your anxiety and reduce the effects of anxiety nausea.
While feelings of anxiety can make you nauseous and unwell, it doesn’t have to be debilitating.
Anxiety is hard to deal with, but by using some of these methods you can help reduce your anxiety and prevent the feelings of sickness and nausea caused by stress and anxiety.
If you’re concerned about your anxiety, the best thing to do is seek professional help.
Anxiety nausea can be unpleasant, but there are many ways you can reduce its effects and manage your anxiety.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: November 29, 2023