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What is the Connection Between Anxiety and Nausea?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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There are many connections between anxiety and nausea, and depending on the case, each one can fuel the other. The most common scenario is that people experiencing anxiety or stress report feeling nauseous as a result, or they experience other gastrointestinal symptoms like heartburn, diarrhea, or increased flatulence. If anxiety is very severe, people may additionally begin vomiting in addition to these other stomach symptoms. There is definitely a relationship between ways the mind works and how the stomach responds.

Anxiety, panic attacks or stress in any form tend to represent an increase in certain brain neurotransmitters. In particular, the levels of adrenaline are increased, and these act on the rest of the body in different ways. In addition to creating anxiety and nausea, adrenaline can produce rapid breathing, perspiration, increased heart rate, and other symptoms.

Additionally, adrenaline tends to increase stomach acid levels, which explains its connection to a variety of stomach symptoms. Moreover, the heightened level of alert that accompanies excess adrenaline levels and the fight/flight response tends to make people more aware of the symptoms of their gastrointestinal system. A small amount of nausea could feel much worse than normal.

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People who are stressed out most of the time may experience anxiety and nausea frequently. Actually, some people are less aware they’re under stress and only have nausea as a symptom. A few studies suggest people reporting symptoms of chronic nausea should be screened for anxiety disorders and depression, since a high percentage of them will have one or both of these conditions. These studies further suggest that it’s important to not minimize the connection between stress in the brain and stress in the gut because the two are intimately related.

Some other connections between anxiety and nausea exist. Sometimes treatments for anxiety cause nausea. This especially occurs when antidepressants like selected serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used, and some of the SSRIs have this as a side effect more often than others. What this means is some people taking an SSRI find their symptoms of anxiety diminishing while symptoms of nausea increase. Should this be the case, people can speak to physicians about other medications with lower risk of side effects like nausea.

Another way anxiety and nausea are connected is when nausea creates anxiety. If people have a fear of a sour taste in the mouth, nausea, or vomiting, they may grow upset and concerned if nausea occurs. Such stress could worsen stomach symptoms and make it more likely that a person will throw up because it can stimulate the fight/flight response, which then acts negatively on the digestive tract. It’s suggested that people with chronic fear of nausea or vomiting seek therapy to find ways to overcome this; otherwise, each bout of nausea may be a slippery slope into extreme anxiety and worsening nausea or vomiting.

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anon953543
Post 2

Can anxiety cause weird headache things too?

anon179066
Post 1

Story of my life.

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