The Relationship Between Anxiety and Nausea

Emetophobia refers to both the fear of vomiting and to the fear of seeing others vomit. At the heart of every phobia, including emetophobia, is an anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, anxiety and nausea often go hand-in-hand and the more anxious a person is, the likelier they are to experience nausea. For someone with emetophobia, this link between anxiety and nausea can make life pretty miserable.When someone with emetophobia feels nauseous, they often experience intense anxiety and may even have a panic attack. This intense reaction is then likely to make their nausea worse.  The cycle is incredibly difficult to break.

Why Does Anxiety Cause Nausea

Since the mind and body are perpetually linked, mental stress will usually cause a physical reaction of some kind. During high-anxiety situations, the release of stress hormones starts off a chain reaction in a person’s body that often results in a tensing of muscles(including those in the digestive tract) and an increase in the production of stomach acid. The combination of these responses can cause nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, or stomach pain. Digestive upset is one of the most common bodily responses to acute stress and anxiety.

What Can Be Done?

If you have emetophobia, then in most instances when you experience nausea it will be as a symptom of anxiety. Use the onset of nausea as a signal that it is time to calm yourself down using whatever method works best for you(take a few deep breaths, meditate, use positive self talk or visualization, exercise, call a friend, etc….). If you are unable to lower your anxiety level using the previously mentioned methods, and if your phobia is debilitating enough to negatively effect your life on a consistent basis, then therapy is highly recommended. Enduring long term physical symptoms caused by stress and anxiety is incredibly detrimental to your mental and physical health. Although medication can be taken to relieve nausea, nothing will provide more relief than getting the proper help that is needed to manage your phobia. Once your anxiety is under control, your nausea should be reduced.