Anxiety is a condition defined as too much, continuous worrying over an imminent event such as death or illness of oneself or the others, or maybe even small events such as being late for an appointment or other uncertain outcomes.
Anxiety is a feeling of fear, alarm, or nervousness that can occur in response to stress or perceived danger which may or may not be present.
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It is necessary to know when you are facing an anxiety attack by recognizing its symptoms. It generally occurs after a period of extensive worrying for hours, or even days. There is no timeline defined to anxiety and the worries can last anywhere from minutes to hours, sometimes even for days and weeks.
You may think that anxiety is just an emotional and mental issue. However, because of anxiety you may develop several symptoms which might affect or disrupt daily functioning of your life.
Nausea is obviously one of the most common symptoms of anxiety faced by almost everybody during an anxiety attack.
It is an uncomfortable feeling of sickness in the stomach and you might feel like vomiting anytime. For people with anxiety disorders, nausea ranges from mild to severe. Like other symptoms of anxiety, nausea can be irregular, and affect your ability to give best in your emotional, academic and social life.
What causes nausea with anxiety?
Anxiety can activate the fight or flight response in your body. It is the natural response of your body to face a crisis or a stressful situation.
When you feel stressed or anxious, your body reacts by releasing hormones into your body. These hormones then sending messages to the rest of your body by way of neurotransmitters to prepare for the situation by certain physical or physiological changes like:
- get the heart pumping faster so your heart beat rate increases
- increase the breathing rate so you inhale more oxygen
- tense the muscles
- send more blood to the brain to make it work faster
These hormones affect virtually every system in your body like your cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, and respiratory systems.
Some of the neurotransmitters tend to enter the digestive tract of your body where they may upset the gut micro biome — the delicate balance of microorganisms that live inside the gut which are partly responsible for proper functioning of the digestive system. Imbalances in the gut micro biome can result in you facing nausea.
In digestive system, anxiety can also cause variety of other symptoms like indigestion, vomiting, loss of appetite, heartburn, acid reflux, stomachache, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, painful spasms in the bowel, irritable bowel syndrome etc.
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What are various types of anxiety disorders in which you face nausea?
Everyone can experience anxiety; they are part of the emotional and protective responses hardwired into the human body. It is when either occurs frequently that there is cause for concern.
There is so much distress in anxiety disorders that it will start affecting your social, occupational, or academic life.
Some examples of anxiety disorder which may cause nausea and other related gastrointestinal symptoms are given below for your reference:
- Generalized anxiety disorder: People, who have generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, tend to worry nonstop about everyday occurrences and common situations of life.
- Phobia: An irrational fear of a specific thing or situation which can also make you paranoid.
- Social anxiety disorder: Social anxiety disorder is a severe, continuous fear of being watched and judged by others. If you are suffering from this disorder, there will be a fear of being humiliated, judged, and rejected by others.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): An anxiety disorder that can develop after a negative/ traumatic experience causing you lot of distress. The person may experience vivid dreams, flashbacks, or tormented memories.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): A disorder that involves obsessive thoughts and compulsive acts. One of the most common examples seen of OCD is a fear of infection from diseases, which leads to washing your hands many number of times; even if not required.
- Panic disorder: A panic disorder is a very strong and impulsive emotion of fear, terror, nervousness, or apprehension.
How can I make nausea symptom better?
Your doctor may perform some medical tests to decide whether there is some underlying illness or any drug related issue which is causing you nausea. Anxiety has been linked to:
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- thyroid disorders
- heart disease
If your healthcare professional suspects that a medical condition or drug related issue are causing nausea, they may ask for some further tests to be done to conclude on the diagnosis. These may include:
- blood tests, to find out whether hormone levels have gone haywire because of thyroid disorder
- urine tests, to check for substance abuse
- gastric reflux tests, such as an X-ray of your digestive system or an endoscopy procedure to look at your esophagus, to check for GERD
If it has been confirmed by your healthcare professional; the nausea which you are facing on a regular basis is because of anxiety disorder; you need to know that you have to work towards reducing the anxiety and stress level in your body.
Working and managing towards reducing anxiety levels will automatically reduce its symptoms and will make you feel better.
Several strategies for fighting anxiety include:
- Jogging and exercise – jogging is very helpful in fighting anxiety. It tires your muscles, which relax the amount of tension that your muscles put on your stomach. Physical activities signal the body to release endorphins. Endorphins are feel good hormones which helps in alleviating stress and uplifts your mood.
- Deep Breathing – Remember that when you are not breathing properly, the brain is receiving less oxygen than required which hampers you in thinking and functioning properly.
Whenever, you feel that anxiety is taking control of you; try focusing the attention on your breathing and try to inhale and exhale slowly and at a steady rate. This will help you in calming down. Slow and deep breathing is one of several stress reduction techniques which brings your heart and mind under control.
- Try relaxation techniques
Methods of relaxation, such as progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery, can reduce feelings of panic and anxiety.
A person can learn these techniques online or by working with a qualified therapist.
- Home remedies and lifestyle changes
There are certain home remedies as well as lifestyle related things which will help you in reducing anxiety and nausea. These are self help strategies and often will help you in reducing the stress level in your body.
- Maintaining a positive attitude towards life and in general. Try to warden off negative thoughts from your life.
- Know what the stressors in your life are. Try to manage or reduce these stressors.
- You should try to limit alcohol and caffeine intake in your body.
- Try to eat wholesome and balanced meals every day. Having anti oxidants in your meals will help manage free radicals. -Your nutrition doesn’t necessarily affect your anxiety nausea. However, it can affect the severity of nausea. Heavy, fattening, unwholesome meals tend to cause anxiety which may lead to more nausea than healthy meals.
- Drinking plenty of water keeps your body hydrated and nourished. Sometimes, if your body is dehydrated; it may also add to the anxiety. So drinking plenty of water also helps in combating stress. However, please remember that that you should not drink too much water or gulp down too quickly, it may add to the nausea.
- Try to sleep continuously at a stretch for 8 hours in night. Having a good sleep relaxes your body and prepares your body for the coming day.
- Exercise every day
- OTC Medicines – Peppermint and Pepto-Bismol may also provide temporary relief for anxiety-related nausea. They can be used for nausea that occurs on rare occasion, but should not be used on a regular basis.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
A type of psychotherapy (sometimes called as talk therapy) known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is especially useful for treating anxiety.
Your therapist will try to give you an understanding of how this disorder is affecting your life and give a perspective of how it can be made better by reducing your anxiety level. Your therapist will try to change the way you think and your response and behaviors towards situations- both wanted and unwanted.
In therapy sessions, you will learn how to recognize and control your anxious thoughts. Your therapist will also teach you how to calm yourself when upsetting thoughts arise.
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CBT is a long term strategy to overcome anxiety
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
This type of therapy focuses to deal with the cause of a person’s anxiety by ways of self-reflection and self-examination. This therapy might be useful for anxiety resulting from a traumatic experience or deep-seated emotional conflict.
Medication can reduce symptoms in people with severe anxiety. They may only be needed for a short period of time to control symptoms while you work on the other strategies to reduce anxiety. It can be used in conjunction with therapy or as a stand-alone treatment.
- Anti anxiety Medication and anti deressants
Anti-anxiety medications are really helpful and they start working right away in lessening your anxiety and fear level. However, since these medications are powerful; they are generally not advised for a longer period of time.
They are once started so that you can meanwhile look for other methods of treatment.
Patients have reported to develop tolerance towards this type of medication and the same dose might not work for them. In order to get the same effect of less anxiety; they have been given higher and higher doses of this medicine.
Some people may even become dependent on them. In order to avoid these situations, generally healthcare professionals advise these anti-anxiety medications for short periods and look for long term solutions.
Though antidepressants are mainly used to treat depression, but they have also proved to be helpful for reducing anxiety. These medications do not start working right away and may take several weeks to show their effect.
There are side effects of these drugs but they are not severe. Incase if some side effects are intolerable, you should inform your doctor about the same.
Beta-blockers are medicines that can help block some of the physical symptoms of anxiety on the body, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, or tremors. Beta-blockers are commonly the medications of choice for the “performance anxiety” type of social anxiety.
What to do when nausea hits
You may try following things when you face nausea:
- Eat a small amount of something dry, like plain crackers or plain bread.
- Slowly sip water or something clear and cold.
- If you’re wearing something tight, change into clothing that doesn’t restrict your stomach.
- Try slow and deep breathing to calm you down.
You should also avoid these things when you face nausea:
- fried, greasy, and sweet foods
- mixing hot and cold foods
- rigorous physical activity
If you are still nauseated and vomiting; you may try following things to help in that situation
- drink water and other clear liquids in small sips to replenish lost fluids
- rest and avoid physical activity
- don’t eat solid food until the nausea stops
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To fight nausea in the long term because of anxiety; you should:
- stay away from heavy fattening foods
- stay hydrated, but limit intake of alcohol and caffeine
- eat smaller meals (5-6, with a break of 2 hours between each meal) throughout the day rather than three big meals