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The Link Between Stress and Vomiting

Updated: May 22, 2024

4 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: Dr. Don Gasparini

Learn more about our Clinical Review Process


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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. It is considered a symptom or manifestation of stress and is associated with the body’s fight-or-flight response. 

Stress vomiting is different from vomiting caused by motion sickness 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. Stress vomiting, while not a medical condition in and of itself, can cause health problems and often necessitates professional support to manage underlying stress or anxiety.

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What causes stress vomiting?

As the name suggests, stress vomiting 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 people 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.

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 frequency of stress vomiting varies among people due to physiological and psychological factors, making it challenging to determine an exact occurrence rate. 

However, research shows that anxiety disorders are strongly associated with nausea — one study found that anxiety disorders increase the risk of nausea by more than three times. Also, stress vomiting may be more common in people with more severe anxiety disorders, another study found

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 to manage stress-induced vomiting: 

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 may be used on a short-term basis to provide relief from severe anxiety symptoms. However, medication should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

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 and reduce stress levels. 

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. Keep in mind that these strategies don’t replace professional mental health support. Here are some coping strategies you can consider to manage stress vomiting:

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.

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.

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 a deep breathing exercise.

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How Charlie Health can help 

If you or a loved one are struggling with stress vomiting, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for people and families dealing with serious mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, chronic anxiety, and more. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing your anxiety nausea is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today. 

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