Can Anxiety Cause Nausea?

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Sometimes you are so anxious that you feel nauseous, and so nauseous the night before a big event that anxiety set in before you went to bed. Are the two related? What are the causes and consequences? Gathering as much information as possible with help you deal with either.


Anxiety just happens in everyday life and sometimes it’s beyond your control, like feelings when confronting a problem at work, before taking an exam, or before making an important decision. But for someone experiencing an anxiety disorder, the feelings can linger and get worse over time – ruining your daily life.


“Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often comes before vomiting. Vomiting is the forcible voluntary or involuntary emptying (“throwing up”) of stomach contents through the mouth.” It’s a terrible feeling, sometimes caused by stress, anxiety, fear, eating bad tasting or spoiled food, or inhaling unpalatable odors.


Lots of stressors can give you a stomachache, like viruses and bacteria – which in turn could trigger nausea and vomiting. But other disorders are in play, just waiting to act:

  • Social anxiety, like when you go to an office party by yourself, start a new job or attend the first day of school.
  • Performance anxiety that comes up when giving a big presentation to senior managers or preparing for your league’s biggest game.
  • Fear or stress such as paying the mortgage, or a bully at school.
  • Anticipation or over-excitement of a formal wedding, maybe graduation day, or a highly anticipated vacation.


The reasons for anxiety disorders are open for debate, a big topic of conversation with people who have it. Nearly everyone will say the reasons for anxiety are not completely understood. Life happenings such as traumatic events appear to cause anxiety disorders in you if you are already predisposed to anxiety. Genetic traits also can trigger the disorder.

Medical causes

For some people, anxiety can be traced to a current health issue. In some cases, anxiety signs and symptoms are the initial indicators of a medical problem. If your doctor says your anxiety has a medical cause, he or she may order tests or scans to search for evidence of a problem.
Examples of medical concerns that could be related to anxiety are:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism or related thyroid problems
  • Respiratory disorders, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma
  • Drug misuse or withdrawal symptoms
  • Withdrawal from alcohol, anti-anxiety drugs, or other medicine
  • Chronic pain or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Rare tumors that make certain fight-or-flight hormones

Sometimes anxiety is a carryover from particular medications. An anxiety disorder can be caused by an underlying medical condition if:

  • Your personal history excludes blood relations like a parent or sibling with anxiety disorder
  • You never had an anxiety disorder during your childhood
  • You do not try to avoid something because of anxiety
  • You have a fast onset of anxiety that appears unrelated to your life and there is no prior history of anxiety


  • Drink clear or ice-cold drinks.
  • Eat flavorless, light foods (such as saltine crackers or plain bread).
  • Avoid fried, greasy, or sweet foods.
  • Eat smaller, frequent meals, and eat slowly.
  • Do not mix hot and cold foods.
  • Drink beverages slowly.
  • Avoid activity after eating.
  • Avoid brushing teeth after eating meals.


A doctor or therapist will likely:

  • Give you a mental examination. This entails talking about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Anxiety conditions often start along with a different mental issue — such as depression or substance misuse — meaning the diagnosis is more difficult.
  • Compare the symptoms to criteria in the DSM-5. Many doctors use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to validate anxiety disorders.


Most healthcare professionals will likely recommend some form of psychotherapy if you experience anxiety. It is the go-to option in many cases but could be combined with self-help or prescription if your symptoms are treatment-resistant. In some instances, your doctor or therapist may talk about using a treatment like ketamine infusions, which was approved to treat depression in 2019. It’s used “off-label” to treat other mental health disorders plus some symptoms of chronic pain disorders.


If you experience nausea constantly, the reason could be something more significant than emotions or eating food that probably upset your stomach. It may be the first warning symptoms of an anxiety disorder. If you feel mentally or physically ill, talk to your doctor or contact us about diagnosis and treatment before conditions worsen.