Bad Taste In Mouth Anxiety Symptoms

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated March 8, 2022

bad taste in the mouth anxiety

Bad taste in the mouth, including having a metallic, blood-like, ammonia, and other odd tastes in the mouth are often symptoms of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and others.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and having bad, tinny, metallic, ammonia, or other unusual tastes in the mouth.

Bad taste in mouth anxiety symptom common descriptions:

  • You have an unusual, awful, or bad taste in your mouth.
  • You have a "blood-like" taste in the mouth for no apparent reason.
  • You have an ammonia or bitter taste in your mouth yet you haven’t ingested anything that could cause this taste.
  • You suddenly have a metallic, tinny, odd, or unusual taste in your mouth out of the blue and for no apparent reason.
  • This unusual or bad taste is not related to anything you’ve eaten or anything you’ve done recently.
  • No matter what you do, your bad taste won’t go away.
  • This bad taste isn’t related to anything dental.
  • Even after you brush your teeth or use mouthwash, the bad taste in your mouth returns.
  • This bad taste can change from one type of unsavory taste to another.

This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom can occur rarely, frequently, or persistently. For example, you have a bad taste in the mouth once in a while and not that often, have it off and on, or have it all the time.

This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom can precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety symptoms or occur by itself.

This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and stress, or occur "out of the blue" and for no apparent reason.

This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

This bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom can change from day to day and from moment to moment.

All the above combinations and variations are common.

To see if anxiety might be playing a role in your symptoms, rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test, Anxiety Disorder Test, or Hyperstimulation Test.

The higher the rating, the more likely anxiety could be contributing to or causing your anxiety symptoms, including having a bad or unusual taste in your mouth.

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What causes having a bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptoms?

Medical Advisory

Talk to your doctor about all new, changing, persistent, and returning symptoms as some medical conditions and medications can cause anxiety-like symptoms.

Click the link for Additional Medical Advisory Information.

When this symptom is caused by stress, including anxiety-caused stress, there can be many reasons why a bad taste in the mouth can occur, including:

1. The stress response

Apprehensive behavior causes the body to secrete stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat – to either fight or flee.

This survival reaction is the reason why the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response, the emergency response, or the fight, flight, or freeze response (some people freeze when they are afraid like a “deer caught in headlights”).[1][2]

Part of the stress response changes include slowing saliva production and heightening the body’s senses, including the sense of taste. The body does this so that we are more able to quickly detect a problem should one be present. These changes are beneficial when in real danger.

Reduced saliva and an altered sense of taste can cause odd and unusual tastes when the stress response is active.

Moreover, research has found that stress can modulate sweet and salt thresholds,[3][4] such as via the endocannabinoid system (which plays an important role in appetite and taste),[5] creating odd tastes in the mouth.

Many anxious people notice odd tastes in the mouth when a stress response is active.

2. Hyperstimulation (chronic stress)

When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can quickly recover from the many stress response changes.

However, the body can't completely recover when stress responses occur too frequently, such as from overly apprehensive behavior.

Incomplete recovery can leave the body in a state of semi-stress response readiness, which we call “stress-response hyperstimulation” since stress hormones are powerful stimulants.

Hyperstimulation is also often referred to as “hyperarousal,” “HPA axis dysfunction,” or “nervous system dysregulation.”[6][7]

Hyperstimulation chronically stresses the body, causing chronic stress response changes, including those that affect the mouth and taste.

Having a persistent bad taste in the mouth is a common indication of hyperstimulation (chronic stress).

3. A reduction in saliva can cause harmful bacteria to flourish in the mouth

As mentioned, the stress response suppresses saliva production. Consequently, hyperstimulation can cause persistent saliva suppression.

A chronic reduction in saliva can allow harmful bacteria to build up in the mouth. The buildup of harmful bacteria can alter the flora in your mouth, which can lead to having a bad taste in the mouth from the growth of bacteria.

4. The stress response affects the stomach and digestive system

The stress response also affects the stomach and digestive system.[8] For example, the stress response suppresses digestion so that all of the body’s resources are available for emergency action. These changes can be helpful when in real danger but can cause problems when the stress response is activated too often.

When the body becomes hyperstimulated due to the chronic activation of the stress response, such as from overly apprehensive behavior, we can experience many stomach and digestive system problems. These problems can cause gas, bloating, stomach upset, and fermenting food, which can affect the taste in the mouth.

5. Stress adversely affects the nervous system

Even though the stress response is beneficial when in real danger, the stress response has a dramatic effect on the nervous system. When the nervous system becomes hyperstimulated, it can cause many nerve and nervous system anomalies, including affecting the taste receptors (taste buds) in the mouth.[9]

Moreover, hyperstimulation can cause the nervous system to behave erratically, which can cause the “misreporting” of sensory information, such as taste.[10] Many anxious people experience a bad taste in the mouth due to hyperstimulation and how that affects the body’s nervous system and sensory organs.

6. Hyperstimulation can suppress the body’s immune system making the body more vulnerable to intruders

The stress response also suppresses the body’s immune system.[8] While short-term immune system suppression isn’t harmful, chronic suppression, such as that caused by hyperstimulation, can allow intruders to take hold.

Sinus infections can cause bad, unusual, and odd tastes in the mouth.

7. Hyperstimulation can cause an increase in Candida

Candida albicans is a pathogenic yeast that is a natural microflora found in the GI tract, mouth, and vagina. Most of the time, it causes no issues.[11]

However, stress, which suppresses the immune system and causes an increase in blood sugar, can cause Candida to flourish. An overgrowth of Candida in the mouth can cause a bad taste.

Any one of the above, or combination thereof of stress and anxiety factors, can cause a bad taste in the mouth.

8. Other Factors

Other factors can create stress and cause anxiety-like symptoms, as well as aggravate existing anxiety symptoms, such as:

Select the relevant link for more information.

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How to get rid of the bad taste in the mouth anxiety symptom?

When other factors cause or aggravate this anxiety symptom, addressing the specific cause can reduce and eliminate this symptom.

When an active stress response causes this symptom, ending the active stress response will cause this acute anxiety symptom to subside.

Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and needn’t be a cause for concern.

When hyperstimulation (chronic stress) causes metallic, bad, or odd tastes in the mouth, eliminating hyperstimulation will end this anxiety symptom.

You can eliminate hyperstimulation by:

  • Reducing stress.
  • Containing anxious behavior (since anxiety creates stress).
  • Regular deep relaxation.
  • Avoiding stimulants.
  • Regular light to moderate exercise.
  • Eating a healthy diet of whole and natural foods.
  • Passively accepting your symptoms until they subside.
  • Being patient as your body recovers.

Visit our “60 Natural Ways To Reduce Stress” article for more ways to reduce stress.

As the body recovers from hyperstimulation, it stops sending symptoms, including this one.

Symptoms of chronic stress subside as the body regains its normal, non-hyperstimulated health.

However, eliminating hyperstimulation can take much longer than most people think, causing symptoms to linger longer than expected.

As long as the body is even slightly hyperstimulated, it can present symptoms of any type, number, intensity, duration, frequency, and at any time, including this one.

Even so, since a bad taste in the mouth is a common symptom of stress, including anxiety-caused stress, it's harmless and needn't be a cause for concern. It will subside when unhealthy stress has been eliminated and the body has had sufficient time to recover. Therefore, there is no reason to worry about it.

Anxiety symptoms often linger because:

  • The body is still being stressed (from stressful circumstances or anxious behavior).
  • Your stress hasn't diminished enough or for long enough.
  • Your body hasn't completed its recovery work.

Addressing the reason for lingering symptoms will allow the body to recover.

Most often, lingering anxiety symptoms ONLY remain because of the above reasons. They AREN'T a sign of a medical problem. This is especially true if you have had your symptoms evaluated by your doctor and they have been solely attributed to anxiety or stress.

Chronic anxiety symptoms subside when hyperstimulation is eliminated. As the body recovers and stabilizes, all chronic anxiety symptoms will slowly diminish and eventually disappear.

Since worrying and becoming upset about anxiety symptoms create stress, these behaviors can interfere with recovery.

Passively accepting your symptoms – allowing them to persist without reacting to, resisting, worrying about, or fighting them – while doing your recovery work will cause their cessation in time.

Acceptance, practice, and patience are key to recovery.

Keep in mind that it can take a long time for the body to recover from hyperstimulation. It's best to faithfully work at your recovery despite the lack of apparent progress.

However, if you persevere with your recovery work, you will succeed.

You also have to do your recovery work FIRST before your body can recover. The cumulative effects of your recovery work will produce results down the road. And the body's stimulation has to diminish before symptoms can subside.

  • Reducing stress.
  • Increasing rest.
  • Faithfully practicing your recovery strategies.
  • Passively accepting your symptoms.
  • Containing anxious behavior.
  • Being patient.

These will bring results in time.

When you do the right work, the body has to recover!

Therapy

If you are having difficulty with problematic anxiety, you might want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder and its symptoms.

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Bad Taste Frequent Questions

Can anxiety cause a sudden bitter taste in the mouth?

Yes, anxiety can cause a sudden bitter taste in the mouth. This bitter taste can have many causes, including the ones listed above. Almost half of anxious people get a bitter taste in the mouth, especially when their anxiety is higher than normal.

Can stress cause a metallic taste in the mouth?

Yes, stress, including anxiety-caused stress, can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. Stress can cause a metallic taste in the mouth in many ways, including those listed above. Many people under stress get this symptom, especially when their stress is higher than normal.

Can a panic attack cause a metallic taste in the mouth?

Yes, since a panic attack is high degree anxiety, and anxiety can cause a metallic taste in the mouth, a panic attack can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. Many panic attack sufferers get a metallic taste in the mouth. This metallic taste usually subsides as the panic attack ends, so it needn’t be a cause for concern.

Prevalence

In an online poll we conducted, 46 percent of respondents said they experienced having a bad taste in the mouth because of their struggle with anxiety.

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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including the anxiety symptom bad taste in the mouth.

References

1. Selye H. Endocrine reactions during stress. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 1956;35:182–193. [PubMed]

2. "Understanding the Stress Response - Harvard Health." Harvard Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016.

3. Ileri-Gurel, Esin, et al. "Effect of Acute Stress on Taste Perception: In Relation with Baseline Anxiety Level and Body Weight." Chemical Senses, 2 Sep 2012.

4. al’Absi, Mustafa, et al. "Exposure to Acute Stress is Associated with Attenuated Sweet Taste." Psychophysiology, 19 Sep 2011.

5. Yoshida, Ryusuke, et al. "Endocannabinoids selectively enhance sweet taste." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 22, Dec 2009.

6. "The Physiology of Stress: Cortisol and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis." DUJS Online. N.p., 03 Feb. 2011. Web. 19 May 2016.

7. Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015.

8. Yaribeygi, Habib, et al. “The Impact of Stress on Body Function: A Review.” EXCLI Journal, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, 2017.

9. Bear, Connors, Paradiso (2016). Neuroscience: Exploring the brain - Fourth Edition. In Sensory and Motor Systems (pp. 265-517). New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer

10. Z, Fatahi, et al. "Effect of acute and subchronic stress on electrical activity of basolateral amygdala neurons in conditioned place preference paradigm: An electrophysiological study." Behavioral Brain Research, 29 Sept. 2017.

11. Jill Seladi-Schulman, PhD. “Candida Albicans: Infections, Symptoms, and Treatments.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 9 Aug. 2018.