Can Anxiety Cause Thrush?

Written by Jim Folk
Last updated October 7, 2022

can anxiety cause thrush?

Ever since my anxiety has become a problem, I've developed episodes of thrush. Can anxiety cause thrush?

Thrush is a fungal (yeast) infection that can grow in the mouth, throat, and other parts of the body.

Thrush is caused by the overgrowth of Candida, a type of fungus.

While anxiety itself doesn’t cause thrush, it can lead to thrush's development. Here’s why:

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Anxious behavior, such as worry, creates the physical, psychological, and emotional state of anxiety.

Visit the article “What Causes Anxiety?” for more information about the cause of anxiety.

Anxiety activates the stress response.

The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream, where they travel to targeted spots to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that prepare the body for immediate emergency action—to fight or flee.

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

Visit our “Stress Response” article for more information about the stress response and its many changes.

Since stress responses push the body beyond its internal balance (homeostasis), stress responses stress the body. As such, anxiety stresses the body.

A body that becomes stressed can exhibit sensations and symptoms of stress.

For instance, a stress response activated by anxious behavior can produce acute “sensations” associated with the active stress response changes.

Moreover, when stress responses are activated too frequently, such as from overly anxious behavior, the body can become chronically stressed, which we call “stress-response hyperstimulation” since stress hormones are powerful stimulants. Chronic stress can produce “chronic anxiety symptoms.”[3][4]

Therefore, anxiety sensations and symptoms are sensations and symptoms of stress. They are called anxiety sensations and symptoms because anxiety is the main source of acute and chronic stress that stresses the body, causing acute sensations and chronic symptoms.

Recovery Support members can read more about the difference between anxiety sensations and anxiety symptoms in the article “The Important Distinction Between Anxiety Sensations and Anxiety Symptoms” in chapter 6.

Now, to answer the question, “Can anxiety cause thrush?”

No, anxiety itself doesn’t cause thrush. However, the stress caused by anxious behavior can contribute to the development of thrush since stress can disturb the balance between other bacteria and microorganisms in the body, allowing thrush to flourish.

So, while anxiety itself doesn’t cause thrush, it can contribute to thrush’s development.

If anxiety has led to an episode of thrush, containing anxious behavior and reducing stress can help reduce and eliminate periods of thrush.

You might also want to cut back and eliminate foods high in sugar and yeast, which can encourage Candida growth.

As with all anxiety and anxiety-related symptoms, it’s best to discuss your thrush with your doctor, as there are other medical and medication causes of thrush. Your doctor can also provide the most appropriate treatment based on your specific situation.

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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 Frequent Questions archive.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Can Anxiety Cause Thrush?

References

1. Folk, Jim, and Liashko, Vitaly. “The Stress Response." anxietycentre.com, retrieved May 2022.

2. Godoy, Livea, et al. "A Comprehensive Overview on Stress Neurobiology: Basic Concepts and Clinical Implications." Frontiers In Behavioral Neuroscience, 3, July 2018.

3. 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.

4. 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.