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An odd thing: feeling sick when leaving the house
July 13, 2014 2:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm mostly asking out of curiosity to find out what people think: whenever I have to leave home I briefly feel sick to my stomach, as if wanting to puke. But it's definitely not social anxiety.

So basically I feel nauseous and sick whenever I have to leave home, but only briefly just before leaving. Once I go out everything is ok. Now my first thought would be social anxiety, but that's pretty certainly not it. First, I had such a spell some 15 years ago, and there are none of the ordinary symptoms: sweating, nervous tension, hands shaking, heart pounding. I just feel sick to the stomach. But more importantly, I have no issues with social interaction. I'm a lecturer at a uni, students like me, I have lots of friends, I go out often, it's all good. It also does me no harm, it's never prevented me from going anywhere. I'm just curious because it's so odd, just this one brief spell of nausea right before leaving home. I'm curious whether anyone else has experienced something similar and what the causes could be.
posted by Pyrogenesis to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Is there something physical that you usually do just before you leave home? Brush your teeth, drink a cup of coffee, bend over to put on shoes, etc.?
posted by Jacqueline at 4:04 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Also, do you generally only leave your house at a particular time of day (e.g., mornings) or at different times of the day?
posted by Jacqueline at 4:05 AM on July 13


I wonder if you have a sort of self fulfilling prophesy going on? Nausea can be induced by something other than illness (such as feeling sick to your stomach when you see something gory), it is reasonable to consider that, perhaps, you anticipate/expect that you will feel sick and your body cooperates.

Question... have there been times when you're so distracted or pre-occupied with some other task/thought as you're leaving the house that the nausea doesn't happen?
posted by HuronBob at 4:13 AM on July 13


I have this :) Always have, too. Most of the time for me it IS social anxiety, but for the rest I believe it's two things:

1. I sit a LOT, and usually in kind of a crunched up position. When I leave the house, my abs, stomach, and intestines are all adjusting to me being upright. That causes nausea and pain.
2. I'm often dehydrated, and I do not experience the gross sick feeling as often when I've got a good amount of water in me.

YMMV.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:32 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Walking through doors is shown to have a strange impact on memory. Possibly related.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 5:09 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I don't live by a schedule, I'm mostly free to go as I please, so there's basically nothing I systematically do except the obvious things like getting dressed. And it happens when I'm with other people too. But basically...

1. I sit a LOT, and usually in kind of a crunched up position. When I leave the house, my abs, stomach, and intestines are all adjusting to me being upright. That causes nausea and pain.


If this can cause nausea, then this may be it. I sit behind the computer a lot, and I have a bad back which makes me sit crouched. I've never thought of this as a possible cause. I think I'm going to test this in the near future - do I get sick just from deciding to leave, or do I only get sick once I get up and start to get prepared?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:09 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Just another consideration...I used to take a few vitamins in the morning right after I ate, and like clockwork during my drive, my stomach would feel nauseous at a certain point. I thought maybe it was anxiety or something in my car making me sick, but it was that I would feel a bit sick after the vitamins started digesting. Just checking if that's part of your routine. (Now I take them at lunch.)
posted by shortyJBot at 6:54 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Previous car accident/other bad experience that you're recalling, on some level, whilst leaving the house?
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:21 AM on July 13


there are none of the ordinary symptoms: sweating, nervous tension, hands shaking, heart pounding.

Those are symptoms of a panic attack or maybe an especially severe anxiety attack, not social anxiety. Most people with social anxiety do not have either of those events on every occasion that they experience anxiety in or about social situations.

I have social anxiety. The approach of any social event is preceded by excuse-making, an absolute certainty that I am not wanted there (or nobody cares), and generalized sick dread. The more unknown the situation, the sicker I feel. I'm also prone to breath-holding when I'm anxious, which generally makes the sick-feeling worse.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:58 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I also experience something like this on occasion. Part of it is "uhg, I have to go to this job that I don't want to go to or this party that I don't want to go to" which isn't social anxiety so much as just general introversion and life-blahs on my part.

But also, my apartment doesn't get a ton of direct natural sunlight or air flow, so I have sometimes attributed the feeling to change in light/air--i.e. change in environment that my body has to adjust to for a minute or two.
posted by greta simone at 9:19 AM on July 13


This is called agoraphobia, and it's a type of anxiety on its own. It often goes along with panic disorder. If this is all that's happening, I would suggest that you just keep going out as much as possible to desensitize yourself.
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:27 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I've had minor spells when going from hot car to cold building that could be best described as premonitory symptoms to syncope. Same as you, no "real" symptoms of anxiety. But same precursors -- sudden change of posture and situation.

See if tensing your lower body muscles (abdomen, butt, legs) helps when the attack comes on.

Keep an eye on it, *some*times these things are related to your brain or ticker. Also consider a little extra sleep -- seems to help.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:40 AM on July 13


I have social anxiety. The approach of any social event is preceded by excuse-making, an absolute certainty that I am not wanted there (or nobody cares), and generalized sick dread. The more unknown the situation, the sicker I feel.

Yeah, that's a pretty accurate description of what I felt back then. How do you cope with it?

This is called agoraphobia, and it's a type of anxiety on its own. It often goes along with panic disorder. If this is all that's happening, I would suggest that you just keep going out as much as possible to desensitize yourself.

That's the thing: I do go out all the time. I actually work with people all the time. How can I have agoraphobia or anything like it when one of my greatest enjoyments is seminars with students? That's what's puzzling me: my first thought was that it's got to be something in the head, but it isn't.

Anyway, thanks all. Basically, I'll see if changing my body posture, hydration, and more exercise will fix this.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:48 AM on July 13


Just throwing in a suggestion could it be allergies. Whenever I get a bad pollen allergies I get dizzy as my sinuses etc fill up with gunk and it makes me feel seasick, add to that gunk dripping down into my stomach and I can I can turn into a queasy red eyed mess if I forget an allergy tablet.
posted by wwax at 5:45 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


How do you cope with it?

Sometimes I just bail, but mostly I just remind myself it's never as bad as I think it's going to be, I pretty much always end up having fun/enjoyment/billable work, and I can leave if I don't like it. My very best podcast-listening time is in the car and I am always backlogged on stuff I really want to hear, so I get rewarded just for transporting myself to the event.

There are certain circumstances that I know to be especially triggering, and those I tend to avoid unless it is so high-value that missing it would be hugely disappointing. They mostly involve being "trapped" - boats and other tour conveyances, for example. I also find social events on weeknights really unpleasant, in part because it never fails that when I make plans, a customer has some huge crisis at 4:30pm and now I have a stressful work emergency backed up against an event I was stressed about all day and now have to stress about being late or being a flake. I just don't do that very often.

Every now and then I take Klonopin. It does the job.

I kind of have a motto that nobody's entitled to a life without discomfort. In the grand scheme of things, I feel a little bit bad for a little while; I'll live.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:32 AM on July 14


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