Can Stress Cause Vomiting?
Your fight or flight response can easily be triggered by your anxieties. When this happens your body is helping you to prepare for dealing with crisis. It is actually the body’s natural response to stress and stressful situations, and when activated, can actually aid in your survival.
When you’re experiencing stress or anxiety, a rush of hormones is released in your body, and messages are sent throughout your body from neurotransmitters in your brain. These messages tell your body to increase your breathing rate, to tense your muscles, to send more blood to your brain, and to get your heart to pump faster.
Stress and anxiety can effect almost all of the systems of the body including, the respiratory system, the nervous system, the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, the reproductive system, and the musculoskeletal system. In addition, within the digestive system, stress and anxiety can cause nausea, vomiting, heartburn, acid reflux, gas, bloating, stomach ache, diarrhea, constipation, and bowel spasms.
Meanwhile, according to various studies, ten to twenty percent of Americans have either Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also known as IBS) or Chronic Upset Stomach. And feeling stressed or anxious can bring on symptoms such as nausea and/or vomiting.
In addition there are multiple anxiety disorders that may cause nausea including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Not only can nausea affect your quality of life in a less than ideal way, unaddressed anxiety disorders can lead to other issues like depression.
Recommendations For Reducing Anxiety Induced Nausea
Symptoms you experience from anxiety are very real. Your body perceives threat and responding accordingly. If there is not an actual underlying emergency, there are many things worth trying to help reduce anxiety and your nausea.
If anxiety comes up, focusing on the present can be a simple but effective response. Try to bring yourself back to the moment by reminding yourself that you are safe and that the feeling of anxiety will pass. Long and deep breathing can be helpful. If you can take a few minutes to rest wherever you are.
Other suggestions for reducing anxiety and nausea for the long-term include:
- Exercise often and regularly
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
- Get enough sleep regularly
- Maintain healthy friendships and support networks
- Have a plan in place for if and when anxiety occurs: i.e. meditation, specific breathing exercises
Chronic anxiety should be treated. Your physician can help make a treatment plan including referring you to other licensed professionals who can help.
How To Best Cope With Nausea When It Hits
If and when nausea hits try these simple approaches:
- Focus on your breath. Take long deep breaths.
- If you are wearing any clothing that feel restrictive to the stomach, change into something that doesn’t feel tight.
- Hydrate. Drink water or clear and cold beverages. Drink slowly.
- Eat a small snack that is dry and plain, such as plain bread or crackers
Meanwhile avoids the following if and when you feel nauseated:
- Rigorous activity
- Consuming hot and cold foods together
- Sweet foods
- Greasy foods
- Fried foods
If nausea persists or gets worse try the following to prevent, reduce, or stop vomiting:
- Avoid physical activity
- Do not eat solid foods until the episode passes
- Drink water (or other clear liquids) slowly to rehydrate
For the long term:
- Avoid heavy and greasy foods
- Eat smaller meals more often to help maintain ideal blood sugar levels
If nausea caused by anxiety is an ongoing issue for you seek medical attention from your physician and or mental health professional. With good care anxiety based nausea can be properly managed.
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