So many of the symptoms of anxiety are unusual that it's easy to see why many people with anxiety disorders worry that they have some other condition - something potentially more dangerous. After all, anxiety is a mental health condition, and yet it can create some very unusual physical symptoms that tend to increase your stress even further.
Metallic taste is a great example. Many people worry about this metallic taste they get in their mouth during anxiety attacks, wondering if it's possible that the metallic taste indicates something other than an anxiety disorder. This article explores whether or not anxiety can cause a metallic taste, how, and what you can do about it.
How Severe is Your Anxiety?
Metallic taste from anxiety is uncommon but may be caused by severe anxiety. If you haven't yet, take our free 7-minute anxiety test to score your anxiety severity, compare it to others, and learn more about potential treatments.
Types of Anxiety That Cause Metallic Taste
Not everyone experiences fear when they have a metallic taste in their mouths. Some people - even those with anxiety - don't even notice, or don't worry about what it may be. It tends to be those suffering from panic attacks or health anxiety that worry the most. If this sounds like you, take my free 7-minute anxiety test to get more information.
Anxiety and Metallic Taste - The Connection
Anxiety does appear to cause a metallic taste in people's mouths. What's interesting, however, is that there doesn't appear to be a medical reason for it. Even during the fight or flight response, there isn't necessarily anything activated in the taste buds that should be creating this metallic taste.
So what's happening?
There are a lot of different theories for why someone would experience a metallic taste, and all of them appear to be true for different people. These reasons include:
- Bleeding Gums Stress can cause a reaction from bacteria inside of your mouth that makes your gums bleed. Blood happens to tastes like metal and can be tasted even if the amount of blood is barely perceptible. It's possible that during anxiety attacks and stress, you're experiencing a minor gum bleed.
- Over Sensitivity to Taste During periods of anxiety, it's not uncommon to be more sensitive to your usual tastes than others. Also, there is some scientific evidence that during periods of intense stress, your taste buds may actually change so that the same taste may have a different affect.
- Stomach Acid Those with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or other related acid reflux problems, may taste metal when the acids reach the tongue. During times of intense stress and anxiety, stomach acid may be more likely to come up.
- Medications Medications that are used to treat anxiety may also cause this metallic taste.
Another theory that needs to be considered is that the metallic taste may be what's bringing on the anxiety. Those that have panic attacks and health anxiety may be experiencing a reaction to tasting metal, not the other way around, but the anxiety comes on so quickly that it feels like the anxiety came first.
Only a doctor can ensure that the metal taste in your mouth is related to your anxiety and not something more serious, so if you're concerned, make sure that you talk to your doctor first and have them test you for anything that may cause a metal taste on your tongue.
What You Can Do About the Metal Taste
Since the metal taste doesn't seem to have a medical cause (at least not an obvious one), there isn't much you can do to target the metal taste directly. Many people report that the metal taste goes away on its own over time, regardless of the extent of their anxiety.
You can always try sucking on a breath mint or chewing gum to mask the flavor. In the event of stomach acid contributing to the metallic taste, chewing gum can actually improve digestion and neutralize acid so that it may have some additional benefits.
Overall, however, you're simply going to need to make sure that you control your anxiety and prevent the panic and severe stress that seems to be causing this metallic taste.
I've worked with hundreds of people that have a metallic taste in their mouths during anxiety attacks. The best thing you can do is take my free anxiety test now. The test will look at your symptoms and recommend an appropriate treatment.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Dec 07, 2017.