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The Link Between Stress and Vomiting

6 min.

Stress can have a variety of physical and mental health side effects, including vomiting. Learn more about the coping skills you'll need to deal with stress and stress-induced vomiting below.

By: Charlie Health Editorial Team

Clinically Reviewed By: Don Gasparini Ph.D., M.A., CASAC

May 5, 2023


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Table of Contents

What is stress vomiting?

Stress vomiting, also known as stress-induced vomiting, is a physical response to extreme stress or anxiety that can result in the involuntary expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth. It is considered a symptom or manifestation of stress and is associated with the body’s fight-or-flight response (often in relation to trauma or triggers related to past trauma).

Stress vomiting is different from other types of vomiting, such as that caused by illness or food poisoning, as it is primarily driven by emotional or psychological factors rather than physical factors. It is often accompanied by other symptoms of stress, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, or feelings of fear or panic.

It is important to note that stress vomiting is not a medical condition in itself, but rather a physiological response to stress. If you or someone you know is experiencing stress-related symptoms, it is advisable to seek support from a healthcare professional or mental health provider who can provide guidance and help manage the underlying stress or anxiety.

How common is stress vomiting?

Stress vomiting is not as common as other stress-related symptoms, such as headaches, muscle tension, or sleep disturbances. The prevalence of stress vomiting can vary among individuals, and it is difficult to determine an exact frequency or occurrence rate.

Some individuals may be more prone to experiencing stress-induced vomiting than others, depending on their physiological and psychological makeup. Certain factors, such as a history of anxiety or sensitivity to stress, may increase the likelihood of experiencing stress-related vomiting.

It’s worth noting that stress vomiting is more commonly seen in individuals with severe anxiety disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These conditions can significantly impact a person’s physiological and psychological responses to stress, potentially leading to vomiting as a coping mechanism.

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What causes stress vomiting?

Stress vomiting, as the name suggests, is primarily caused by excessive stress or anxiety. 

When a person experiences high levels of stress, it can trigger a physiological response known as the “fight-or-flight” response, which activates various bodily systems to prepare for perceived danger.

During the stress response, the body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline, which can affect the gastrointestinal system. The specific causes of stress vomiting can vary from person to person, but some common factors that contribute to stress-induced vomiting include:

Psychological factors

Intense emotional distress, anxiety, fear, or panic can activate the body’s stress response and lead to vomiting as a physiological manifestation of the stress.

Sensitivity to stress

Some individuals may be more prone to stress-induced vomiting due to their physiological and psychological makeup. They may have a heightened sensitivity to stress or a predisposition to react strongly to stressful situations.

Pre-existing anxiety disorders

Individuals with pre-existing anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, or panic disorder, may be more susceptible to stress vomiting. These conditions can amplify the body’s response to stress and increase the likelihood of vomiting as a symptom.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

People with PTSD, often resulting from traumatic experiences, may experience stress vomiting as part of their symptom profile. Trauma can have a profound impact on a person’s stress response and their ability to regulate emotions.

It’s important to remember that stress vomiting is a physiological response to stress and not a deliberate action. If you or someone you know is experiencing stress-related symptoms, it is advisable to seek professional help from a healthcare provider or mental health professional for a proper evaluation and guidance on managing stress and anxiety effectively.

What treatments are available for stress vomiting?

When it comes to treating vomiting from stress, the primary focus is on addressing the underlying stress or anxiety that is causing the symptom. Here are some potential treatment options that may be considered:

Stress management techniques

Learning and practicing stress management techniques can be helpful in reducing stress levels and preventing stress-induced vomiting. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can help calm the mind and body.

Therapy and counseling

Engaging in therapy or counseling can provide valuable support in managing stress and anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), in particular, is often effective in identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with stress and anxiety.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Anti anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines or certain antidepressants, may be used on a short-term basis to provide relief from severe anxiety symptoms. However, medication should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Lifestyle modifications

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to stress reduction. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, a balanced diet, and avoiding substances like caffeine and alcohol can positively impact overall stress levels and promote well-being.

Support networks

Building a strong support network of friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional support and outlets for sharing feelings and experiences related to stress. Talking to others who have gone through similar experiences can be comforting and provide perspective.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or mental health provider to discuss your specific situation and determine the most appropriate treatment options. They can provide an accurate diagnosis, personalized recommendations, and ongoing support throughout the treatment process.

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Coping with stress vomiting

Coping with stress vomiting can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help you manage the symptoms and reduce their impact on your well-being. Here are some coping strategies you can consider:

Identify triggers

Pay attention to the situations, thoughts, or emotions that tend to precede or exacerbate your stress vomiting. By identifying triggers, you can work on finding ways to avoid or minimize exposure to them.

Stress management techniques

Practice stress management techniques to help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation can be beneficial in calming the mind and body.

Cognitive reframing

Challenge and reframe negative thoughts or beliefs that contribute to your stress response. Practice positive self-talk, focus on realistic perspectives, and engage in activities that help shift your mindset towards more positive and empowering thoughts.


Prioritize self-care activities that promote physical and emotional well-being. Engage in activities you enjoy, such as hobbies, exercise, spending time in nature, listening to music, or engaging in creative outlets. Taking care of your physical health through proper nutrition, regular sleep, and exercise can also help reduce stress levels.

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Seek support

Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide understanding, empathy, and support during stressful times. Sharing your experiences and feelings with others who can relate can be comforting and help you feel less alone.

Professional help

Consider seeking assistance from a healthcare professional or mental health provider who specializes in stress management or anxiety disorders. They can provide guidance, support, and additional coping strategies tailored to your specific needs.

Relaxation techniques

Engage in activities that promote relaxation and help you unwind. This may include taking warm baths, practicing aromatherapy, listening to calming music, or using guided imagery.

Remember that coping with stress vomiting is a personal journey, and different strategies work for different individuals. It’s important to find what works best for you and to be patient with yourself as you navigate through the process. If your stress vomiting persists or significantly interferes with your daily life, it’s recommended to seek professional help for a comprehensive evaluation and appropriate support.

Treating anxiety disorders with Charlie Health

It’s common to experience worry or stress—however, it’s important to recognize if your symptoms are beginning to affect your work, relationships, and overall day-to-day functioning. 

Charlie Health is committed to providing teens and adolescents with a proactive approach to mental wellness—all from the comfort of their home. Our intensive outpatient program connects you with other people experiencing generalized anxiety disorder or other anxiety issues so that you feel seen, heard, and connected. 

If you’d like to connect with a member of our Care Team about your treatment options, get started here.

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