Anxiety is a common mental health issue that most of us go through every day. In fact, some amount of anxiety is normal as well. However, some people may experience excessive levels of anxiety, leading to various physical and psychological symptoms. One of the ways anxiety might manifest in physical form is through swallowing difficulties. Sometimes anxiety might make it difficult for people to swallow, while it can also cause excessive swallowing. In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between swallowing and anxiety

Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to fear, stress or perceived stress. The extent of anxiety usually varies from mild to severe depending on the trigger and various other factors such as a person’s coping strategies, physical health, etc. Various factors, such as work pressure, relationship issues, financial concerns, or traumatic experiences, can trigger anxiety. When someone is anxious, their body goes into a “fight or flight” mode, releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause many physiological changes leading to bodily reactions such as rapid heart rate, sweating, heavy breathing, etc.

Why Does Anxiety Cause Excessive Swallowing?

  • Anxiety And Muscle Tension

As mentioned earlier, anxiety can manifest in various physical and psychological symptoms. One of the physical symptoms of anxiety is muscle tension and breathing difficulties When someone finds it hard to breathe, they may rely on their mouth to get more oxygen and feel ventilated, leading to constant swallowing. Anxiety may also affect the muscles in the throat and oesophagus. tense up, leading to a need to swallow frequently

  • Hypersalivation

When the body is under stress, it tends to increase saliva production, leading to excess saliva. This excess saliva can trigger the urge to swallow more frequently than usual,

  • Anxiety And Aerophagia

Aerophagia is a condition where a person swallows too much air, leading to other physical issues such as bloating, bleaching or flatulence. Research suggests that anxiety and stress can contribute to an increased frequency of swallowing, leading to aesophagia. Thus, there seems to be a link between anxiety and constant swallowing.

Other Causes of Constant Swallowing

While constant swallowing can be a sign of anxiety for some people, it is essential to know that many other factors, apart from anxiety, can cause constant swallowing as well. Medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or dry mouth (xerostomia) can also lead to constant swallowing, Thus, it is essential to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Other Symptoms Of Anxiety

It is also important to understand that anxiety is a complex condition that can cause many signs and symptoms, thus, constant swallowing may not be the only indicator of anxiety, and we must consider other symptoms before reaching a conclusion. A few other symptoms of anxiety are 

  • Constant Worry
  • Rumination or Intrusive thoughts
  • Difficulty in concentrating on tasks
  • Difficulties in decision-making
  • Feeling restless
  • Sleep issues
  • Feeling nervous or tense constantly
  • Difficulties in daily functions due to excessive worry
  • Trying to avoid anxiety-provoking thoughts
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Muscle tension


In summary, constant swallowing can be a sign of anxiety, particularly when accompanied by other anxiety symptoms such as muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, or intrusive thoughts. However, constant swallowing may also be a symptom of other physical issues. Thus, it is important to consult a medical or mental health professional for the right diagnosis.



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  2. Appleby, B. S., & Rosenberg, P. B. (2006). Aerophagia as the Initial Presenting Symptom of a Depressed Patient. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 8(4), 245–246.
  3. How Anxiety Causes Trouble Swallowing. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2024, from
  4. Saliva and Stress: Understanding the Anxious Connection. (n.d.). Resony Health – Digital Mental Health Solutions. Retrieved March 18, 2024, from
Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin