Anxiety is a mental health disorder. When people think of anxiety, they think of worrying and stress. They think of fears and a feeling as though something is going to go wrong. Anxiety is seen in thoughts and actions.
But anxiety has a large physical component, and one of the key contributors to those physical sensations is long-term stress. Stress can have a tremendous impact on your health, and one of the most common conditions is feeling ill.
Feeling Ill from Anxiety?
You may be coming down with a cold. You may be coming down with a serious disease. Or you may just have anxiety. It's sometimes hard for people to believe that feeling ill can come from anxiety, but it's a very real experience that affects many people.
If you haven't yet, take my 7-minute anxiety test to find out if you're likely feeling ill from anxiety.
Anxiety Can Cause Feelings of Illness
The stress from anxiety can cause feelings of very genuine sickness. These feelings often mimic the way illnesses make you feel. Your stomach can feel like it's rumbling and you may even feel nauseated. Feeling sick may be a sign that you've fallen ill, but it can also be a clear sign of anxiety.
While feeling sick can be the only physical symptom of anxiety, there are often others. Take my 7-minute anxiety test to get an idea of what symptoms you have are the result of anxiety and what you can do to stop it.
Why Does Anxiety Cause a Sick Feeling?
In general, that sick feeling is caused by a number of different factors. Just a few of which include:
- Standard Stress Response Scientists believe that nausea, and some of the common feelings of illness, are the result of issues with serotonin and adrenaline, which go haywire when you're suffering from anxiety. It's likely that there is an evolutionary component, where during times of fear, your gut sends a message to your brain that you should be frightened using the feeling of nausea.
- Gut and Abdominal Pressure Anxiety also causes a great deal of pressure on the stomach and guts, including stomach acids, digestion, and more. All of these throw off the way your body processes food and water and can cause you to feel like someone is going wrong in your stomach.
- Mild Illness Your body fights off germs every day. Anxiety can weaken your immune system, increasing the risk of suffering from mild illness. This is much less common but may contribute to a feeling of nausea and sickness.
Feeling ill is something that often causes concern. Some people feel so sick that they vomit or experience profound nausea that keeps them away from their activities.
Some people experience more than just nausea as well. They may experience other symptoms that are similar to catching a cold or flu. They may feel like their glands are swollen, or their tongue is dry. They may feel lightheaded. They may even cough or experience severe stomach discomfort, like indigestion.
Are You Sick?
When anxiety is causing these symptoms, they're not dangerous. Anxiety is your body's misfiring of the body's natural fight or flight response, and the way your body reacts is designed to make sure that you know you're supposed to be fearful.
The problem isn't the signals themselves, the problem is that you're experiencing them all the time, often when it is inconvenient. People feel these symptoms for different reasons:
- Situational Illness Feelings Some people experience anxiety as a result of various situations. For example, before a test, before a first date, before proposing, etc.
- Chronic Illness Feelings Long term, chronic anxiety can also cause you to feel sick. This is very often indicative of an anxiety disorder.
Situational anxiety is actually natural. It's inconvenient, but it's natural. Back in school, if you felt severe illness before a big test, it's because you genuinely feared that test. While tests shouldn't provide that fear, the reaction is not unexpected.
Feelings of chronic illness from anxiety can be even more problematic because when your anxiety doesn't go away, the feeling of being ill won't go away either. It becomes something that makes you feel worse about your health, saps your energy, and can ruin every day.
Temporarily Relief for the Sick Feeling
Most over the counter medicines that calm the stomach are mildly effective at relieving most of the sick feeling. Even though it's caused by anxiety, some of the symptoms can be relieved with medicines that relieve some nausea.
For issues like swollen glands, treating them can be a bit more complicated. That's because your glands aren't actually swollen. Swollen glands (and a clogged throat, and other common anxiety complaints) are actually a symptom of over-sensitization. Your body is so attuned to the way you feel that it starts to believe that it feels problems, even though the problems aren't actually there.
The only way to cure that is to cure your anxiety and to do that you need to start to understand your anxiety better.
I have helped thousands of people that feel sick day in and day out from anxiety by starting them out with my 7 minute anxiety test. It's a completely free test that will:
- Compare your symptoms to other anxiety sufferers.
- Discover what's causing your anxiety and how.
- Provide recommendations for how to relieve your anxiety.
If you haven't taken the test yet, it's crucial you start there. Take the test here.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Jun 08, 2018.