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Anxiety is a normal part of life. It’s a reaction everyone has to stress or a scary situation. But if your anxiety is long-lasting or severe, you might have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental health condition in the United States.
Both everyday anxiety and anxiety disorders can cause a wide range of symptoms, both psychological and physical. A dry mouth can be one of the physical symptoms of anxiety.
There are several reasons why you might have a dry mouth when you’re anxious. Let’s take a closer look at three of the most common reasons.
Breathing through your mouth
Breathing through your nose is the healthiest and most efficient way to breathe. But if you’re feeling anxious, you may be more likely to breathe through your mouth. You may also breathe less deeply.
If you breathe through your mouth, the air coming in can dry it out. Having your mouth open to breathe can also cause dryness.
When you’re very anxious, you may also be more likely to hyperventilate, which is a type of rapid breathing through your mouth. Hyperventilation can cause a dry mouth.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid comes up into your esophagus. It can cause a dry mouth, especially in children.
GERD is more common in people with anxiety. In addition, having anxiety may make you more likely to develop GERD.
If your anxiety doesn’t respond to other treatments or is overwhelming, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants, which can also be used to help treat anxiety.
Dry mouth is a common side effect of many types of antidepressants.
Knowing some of the other common symptoms of anxiety can help you figure out if that’s what’s causing your dry mouth. These symptoms may include:
- restlessness, agitation, irritability
- a rapid heart rate
- hyperventilation, or rapid breathing
- increased sweating
- difficulty concentrating
- digestive issues, such as diarrhea or stomach ache
- trouble sleeping
In many cases, you can help ease the symptoms of your dry mouth with home remedies. You may want to try some of the following remedies the next time your mouth feels dry:
- Drink water or a sugar-free drink.
- Suck on ice cubes.
- Chew sugar-free gum, which can increase the production of saliva.
- Focus on breathing through your nose instead of your mouth.
- Use a humidifier inside your home.
- Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
- Cut back on smoking, or try to quit.
- Avoid using over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines or decongestants unless you really need to.
- Try an OTC saliva substitute that has xylitol in it. You can find this type of product at most drugstores.
Easing your anxiety can also help your dry mouth, as well as other symptoms. If you’re feeling anxious, some of the following strategies might help you feel calmer:
- Exercise. For some people, calming exercise like yoga may help. Other people find that cardio-type exercise helps them unwind. Even just talking a brisk walk can be helpful for easing anxiety.
- Try meditation.
Studieshave shown that meditating may help reduce stress and control feelings of anxiety. Older research shows that meditation may also reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders, like panic attacks, social anxiety, and phobias.
- Try journaling. Writing down your anxieties can help you get them out of your head so you can focus on other things.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating meals that contain protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats can help you avoid blood sugar spikes, which may make your anxiety symptoms worse. Complex carbs may also increase your levels of serotonin, which is a brain chemical with a calming effect.
- Drink water. Even mild dehydration can negatively affect your mood and overall feeling of well-being.
- Identify your triggers. Try to pay attention to the events and situations that make you feel anxious. You may want to think of ways you can avoid or reduce your anxiety triggers.
If your anxiety is severe or feels overwhelming, the best option is to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. They may recommend a form of psychotherapy or prescribe medication to help ease your symptoms.
Anxiety can sometimes be disruptive to your life. Your worries can become overwhelming, keeping you from sleeping or enjoying your daily life.
If you’re eager to find coping tools and strategies from the comfort of your home, you may want to consider these smartphone apps or podcasts.
Apps for anxiety
There are a variety of apps that can guide you through different strategies to cope with anxiety, from meditation to cognitive behavioral therapy. Here are some you may want to check out:
- Headspace: This meditation app includes meditations for everything from sleep to productivity to compassion. It may also help increase your focus and sense of calm while reducing symptoms of anxiety.
- Calm: Since anxiety can cause sleep issues, and sleep issues can make anxiety worse, this app can help you get a good night’s sleep and reduce anxiety.
- Breathe2Relax: This app leads you through breathing exercises to help you manage stress. As a bonus, learning to breathe properly may help your dry mouth.
- Stop, Breathe & Think: This app helps you check in with your feelings, then suggests a short activity such as a guided meditation, a breathing exercise, or a yoga sequence tailored to your current mood.
Podcasts for anxiety
Some podcasts are focused on helping you relax, while others may teach you more about anxiety itself and help you know that you’re not alone.
- Anxious in Austin: This podcast is hosted by psychologists who specialize in anxiety. They cover a wide range of anxiety-related topics, from interviews with other specialists to strategies for coping.
- The Anxiety Coaches: These 20-minute episodes each focus on a specific area of anxiety, with tips for coping and lifestyle changes.
- Anxiety Slayer: This podcast features conversations with anxiety experts, as well as tools you can use to ease your anxiety. The hosts also have a series of guided meditations and breathing exercises.
- Dear Anxiety: In this podcast, a comedian and a positive psychology professional provide tools for dealing with anxiety, focusing on mindfulness, improved communication, and self-awareness.
- Calmer You: This podcast offers a broad range of topics related to anxiety, from nutrition to meditation. In addition to expert interviews, it provides helpful strategies for easing anxiety.
A dry mouth is one of the many symptoms of anxiety. It may be caused by breathing through your mouth, medications, or GERD.
It’s often accompanied by other symptoms of anxiety, such as a rapid pulse, sweating, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of restlessness or agitation.
If anxiety is causing your dry mouth, learning to ease your anxiety is as important as treating your dry mouth. Exercise, meditation, and writing down your worries can all help.
If your anxiety is overwhelming, it’s important to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. They can help you understand that you’re not alone and that there are many types of therapies and medications that can help ease your symptoms.