Anxiety can cause symptoms of a nervous stomach. One is nausea, but there are ways to relieve the feeling.
A variety of changes occur in the body during times of heightened stress or anxiety. It can prompt physical symptoms such as shaking and dizziness.
You may also experience a nervous stomach, including the fluttering feeling of “butterflies.” Whether it’s before sitting for an exam or giving a speech, you may feel short waves of nausea.
While it’s common to experience nausea with anxiety, it can be tricky to pinpoint whether it’s always the cause.
Understanding anxiety-related nausea can help you manage it.
Anxiety is a part of the body’s natural response to a perceived threat. When this happens, your body enters the fight, fight, or freeze mode — a reaction that can help you survive in moments of danger.
When you’re under stress or feeling anxious, your body produces a flood of hormones and chemical signals, which can trigger various physical symptoms.
Nausea is one of the many potential symptoms of anxiety. It’s a mild or intense sense of uneasiness in the stomach that makes you feel the urge to vomit. But it doesn’t always reach the point of vomiting. This may increase feelings of anxiety for some people who worry about embarrassment.
When you’re experiencing nausea with anxiety, the feeling usually passes when the situation is over or once you’ve calmed down.
If you’re living with an anxiety disorder, you may feel nauseous more frequently. Nausea may be associated with the following anxiety disorders:
- generalized anxiety disorder
- social anxiety disorder
- specific phobias, such as emetophobia (or the fear of vomiting)
- panic disorders
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
To better understand how anxiety can cause you to feel nauseous, it’s helpful to know how your gut and brain are connected.
The brain closely communicates with your gut through neurotransmitters — the body’s chemical messengers that carry signals from one nerve cell to target specific cells in the body.
Your gut is sometimes referred to as the “second brain,” as it has its enteric nervous system with a high volume of nerve cells.
According to a
So, when your stress response kicks in, the hormones and chemicals released can cause a disturbance in the gut, making you feel nauseous.
Other digestive issues associated with anxiety include:
- cramping or tightening in the stomach
- loose stools
- diarrhea or constipation
Experiencing nausea with anxiety can be troublesome. Following a few simple tips can help you cope when it occurs.
- Slightly adjust your seating position: Be careful not to crunch your stomach, as it may apply pressure and become uncomfortable. Elevating your upper body can support digestion until the feeling subsides.
- Try taking small sips of water if possible to stay hydrated. You may feel reluctant to eat or drink anything when you’re nauseous. This may lead to dehydration, which can also cause nausea.
- Aim for slow deep breaths.
Research from 2018indicates that controlled breathing increases relaxation and helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you feel nauseated, try inhaling gently through your nose and breathing out slowly. It might be a good idea to get into the fresh air when deep breathing or turn on a fan.
- Try cool compresses. Applying cool compresses to the back of your neck or face can help soothe that nauseous feeling.
- Drinking warm liquids. Warm liquids such as ginger are a popular home remedy to soothe and ease nausea. Chamomile tea is a good alternative and has many calming benefits.
- Stick to small amounts of bland food. Bland food such as crackers and toast can help ease feelings of nausea. Try to avoid greasy foods and fizzy drinks, as they can make you feel worse.
There are many helpful ways to relieve nausea, but there are also options to help manage your symptoms of anxiety in the long term. Treatment for anxiety often involves therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is a highly effective form of psychotherapy for treating anxiety and stress, according to
With the support and guidance of a mental health professional, you can actively address symptoms that may be causing you distress. Understanding the way you think can make all the difference and help regulate how your body responds to stress.
The use of antidepressants can help treat a variety of mental health conditions.
But nausea is a possible side effect associated with some antidepressants. Depending on the person, it’s usually mild and improves over time as your body adjusts.
Other treatment options
There are other options you might try to manage symptoms of anxiety. This may include:
- anti-anxiety medications
- anti-seizure medications
- atypical antipsychotics
- acceptance and commitment therapy
While anxiety-related nausea can feel unpleasant, it tends to pass when your system calms down. If the feeling worsens alongside other physical symptoms, consider reaching out to a healthcare or mental health professional.
If your nausea is a result of anxiety and it’s impacting your everyday life, getting support from a mental health professional may be helpful. They can help you understand the root of your stress, and together, you can discuss the best options from there.
Anxiety can have numerous physical effects on the body. Feeling nauseous is a common symptom, so you’re not alone.
Understanding how your body responds may help you recognize whether your nausea is related to your anxiety. Still, there are tips to help relieve symptoms.
Effective treatment is available for managing anxiety in the long term. Seeking support from a mental health professional can offer you some guidance and support.