Other Symptoms

How Anxiety Can Cause Drooling/Spitting

  • Anxiety can play a role in excess saliva.
  • There are at least 3 possible relationships between anxiety and saliva production.
  • Excess saliva and drooling can be an uncomfortable symptom that creates more anxiety.
  • It may still be helpful to see a doctor if there is a concern.
  • Distracting oneself can reduce the symptoms, but anxiety reduction is important.
Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated March 1, 2021

How Anxiety Can Cause Drooling/Spitting

Anxiety has dozens of symptoms. But what is perhaps most interesting about anxiety is that sometimes those anxiety symptoms have their own symptoms - issues that are caused by the symptoms of your anxiety.

That's what we see with anxiety and drooling, along with general excessive saliva production. Anxiety doesn't generally cause severe drooling, but it can lead to increased amounts of saliva that is caused not directly from anxiety, but from a separate symptom of anxiety.

Anxiety and Excessive Drooling

Anxiety doesn't generally cause saliva to pour of your mouth. That's because your swallow reflex works, so often you'll swallow the saliva before it comes out of your mouth. Most people that drool do so because they can't swallow it and it builds up. If you truly cannot swallow and drool is pouring out your mouth, see a doctor.

There's never any harm in seeing a doctor, even though drooling itself is rarely dangerous. But anxiety can cause issues that may lead to the feeling of needing to drool, with excessive saliva that on some occasion may pour out of your mouth. These reasons include:

  • Thinking About Saliva Anxiety causes your mind to over focus on various bodily functions. That, in turn, can cause you to create more of those functions. Salivation is a big one - when you think about your saliva, you'll often create more saliva, which in turn causes you to think about your saliva more. That can make so much saliva that it even comes out on occasion, leading to drooling.
  • Uncomfortable Position Anxiety can also make you sit in strange positions, or fall asleep in strange positions. Opening your mouth when you sleep isn't uncommon either. These can all lead to mouth breathing issues that cause you to drool when you sleep and get tired. Nothing technically has changed in your health, but since anxiety is causing you to be in these positions, your drooling picks up.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder GERD is a pretty common condition. It's commonly known as "heartburn" or "acid reflux" and it appears to be very common in people with stress and anxiety. It's possible that anxiety contributes to worse GERD symptoms, and it's possible that GERD contributes to further anxiety. It's also possible that both affect each other.

Remember that anxiety activates the fight or flight system in the body, and that means that some of the functions in your body are activated, while others shut down. So it's possible that your salivary glands are activated, or that some part of your body that controls salivation is shut down.

Drooling From Anxiety isn't Dangerous

Some people that have anxiety also don't have a drooling problem at all. But what they may have is greater consciousness over their natural drooling that occurred anyway. People drool when they sleep or doze off all the time, but if you have anxiety you may be more prone to embarrassment, which makes you think about your drooling and more aware of it.

Controlling your salivation is about first making sure you don't have a problem, like GERD, that may contribute to it. So make sure you see a doctor first if you're concerned.

Then the key to overcoming salivation is about distractions. Remember, it's generally a symptom of focusing too much on your saliva. So if you can distract your mind (which is admittedly hard) your salivation should decrease. That's why it's so important for you to find activities that are successfully distracting to your mind. Try talking on the phone, since talking on the phone is very difficult to do while still thinking about your saliva.  


Drooling can be the result of acid reflux fueled by anxiety, or it can be related to the hyperawareness that anxiety creates. Knowing the cause can be useful, but addressing anxiety is typically the best way to prevent future issues with excess salivation. 

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Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient


You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

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