Anxiety is a difficult problem to manage, particularly when it's chronic and happens with little warning or reason. It typically presents itself with breathing difficulties, feelings of panic, and assorted other unpleasant physical sensations, although its exact set of symptoms vary from one person to the next.
In a relatively small number of people, the onset anxiety can cause a gagging feeling in the throat, which in turn leads to coughing, a feeling of choking and sometimes vomiting. For people who suffer from this particular problem, it can make social situations extremely difficult, but you can make it easier to manage with the following tips.
Try to understand what's happening
When you gag, it's the tissue at the back of your throat contracting. It's supposed to happen if anything touches the surrounding area, a useful reflex that helps prevent choking. People also experience it if they see or smell something unpleasant.
Sometimes, anxiety can cause this reflex to trigger when it shouldn't, as the feelings of panic cause the throat to contract in the same way. The trouble is, because gagging and vomiting are things people fear happening in public, the anxiety can quickly worsen as soon as the sensation appears, creating a spiralling feeling of panic.
Deal with the gag reflex
Because the feeling of gagging can make the anxiety worse, in turn making the gagging more severe, it can be helpful to simply deal with your gag reflex. Some people have success doing this with throat-numbing sprays or anti-snoring medication; others find sipping water, sucking hard candy or eating a salty snack can help.
Once you begin to break the cycle, you can try reducing the amount you use these treatments to see if it's helped you more permanently.
Deal with the anxiety
On top of combatting the gagging, it's important to tackle your feelings of anxiety as well. Mindfulness meditation is a highly effective way of regaining control of your stress levels, and a useful tool to have.
Used in combination with professional treatments like counselling and medication, you can get on top of anxiety and get rid of it for good.
Look out for additional triggers
Often, people who gag when anxious have a generally oversensitive gag reflex. Even when you're feeling calm, other things can set it off, which will begin the anxious feelings you associate with gagging. Try and be aware of the possibility of anything that will cause you to gag, like cold air or bad smells. Avoid them where you can, and give yourself advance warning and mental preparation where you can't.Share
25 October 2017
I've struggled with bouts of depression and anxiety for the past ten years, and in that time I've tried a range of prescription drugs and alternative therapies. I started this blog to share my personal experiences and connect with other people who struggle with these illnesses, as I know only too well how lonely it can be to live under a cloud of depression. I post about a range of topics, such as talking to your employer about depression, getting support from family and friends and self-care tips. I also share my thoughts on the drug-free treatments I've used, such as talking therapy, yoga, homeopathy and meditation. I hope you find my blog interesting and useful.