Anxiety And A Warm Surge In The Stomach

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated April 24, 2021

Can Anxiety Cause A Warm Surge In The Stomach?

Complete Question

What causes a strong, warm surge sensation in the pit of my stomach after I have an anxious thought?

Answer

There is a tight mind/body connection. For example, the moment we believe we could be in danger, the body’s survival mechanism engages by releasing 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, flee or freeze.

This response is commonly referred to as the stress response, 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]

Visit our “Stress Response” article for more information about how the stress response is activated and all of the changes it brings about.

Some of the changes caused by the stress response include:

  • Shunts blood to parts of the body more important for survival, such as the brain and muscles, and away from those less important, such as the stomach and digestive system.
  • Tightens muscles so that the body is more resilient to harm, including stomach muscles.
  • Stimulates the body, which increases heart rate and respiration.

To name a few.

The release of stress hormones by the adrenal glands, the shunting of blood, or the tightening of stomach muscles, or a combination thereof, can cause a “warm feeling” in the stomach.

An increase in heart rate, an increase in respiration, and chest muscle tension, or a combination thereof, can also cause a “chest flutter” feeling. Many people experience “chest flutters” due to heart palpitations caused by the sudden release of stress hormones.

Any one or combination of the above can cause a “warm feeling” in the stomach and “chest flutters.”

 I (Jim Folk) used to get warm sensations in the stomach all the time when I was struggling with anxiety disorder. While these sensations can feel odd and unusual, they are a normal part of how the body responds to fear and the accompanying stress response.  As such, they needn't be a cause for concern.


Related Symptoms And Articles:

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 Frequently Asked Questions page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including why anxiety can cause a warm burst surge sensation in the stomach.

References

1. Folk, Jim. “The Stress Response.” Anxiety Attacks, Anxietycentre.com, 2020, https://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-disorders/symptoms/stress-response/.

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