Can anxiety cause a dry mouth, yes!
To understand why this happens we first have to have an understanding of the fight, flight or freeze response. This response is the name given to the reaction the body makes when it feels it is or perceives the organism (you) is in danger. It is worth side noting the word ‘perceives’. As we grow through childhood we create many rules, most of which are beneficial but we do also create incorrect beliefs about what may cause us harm. These are created mainly in childhood when we have no frame of reference so take something at face value. For example – watching your mum run away from a spider, the reality is ‘she is scared of it’ but you don’t need to be. But because your frame of reference about spiders is minimal you take for granted her actions are the best actions and install them in your own psyche.
So when we are faced with a perceived threat and feel anxiety our body is following its routine for the fight, flight or freeze response. This response is specifically designed to allow the body to be as strong and fast as possible to allow the escape from a threat. Think of it as Popeye having his spinach. It allows our body to temporarily re-configure itself to be the best it can to either fight against the threat, flee the threat, or freeze until the threat passes. It’s a fantastic built in response but it’s extremely unnerving when its goes off at the wrong time. This is because we are given all this potential energy to face a threat when we are not in one. This energy gets stuck in the body and all we do is feel the uncomfortable sensations that is produces.
When the body is in this mode it shuts down all unnecessary functions so it can concentrate on those that can help us survive at that moment in time. One of the functions that is shut down is the digestion system. If we are in a real threat or a perceived threat we are not likely to take a break and have a packet of crisps. Because eating at this moment is not required this function is shut down and you may well become aware of having a dry mouth. The saliva in the mouth is used to aid with chewing and swallowing and since we are not going to be eating this is why the saliva is turned off – hence having a dry mouth
This is because instead of being in a real threat you are overly aware of the symptoms that arise due to triggering the fight, flight or freeze response when it’s not required.
So, it makes perfect sense to get a dry mouth when you are feeling anxious. Because the body is more interested in protecting you than eating food at that moment in time.
Understanding the trigger that cause the fight, flight or response is then key to removing the symptoms. For example if you get this every time you are in public space, using BWRT to change the response could fix this issue rapidly.
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