Anxiety Support
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Can anxiety cause a sensitive sense of smell?

It's just occurred to me that my sense of smell wasn't like this for the whole of my life. A few years ago it became apparent that my sense of smell was much more sensitive than most people's. I smelled a very minor gas leak the moment I walked into a room and was told it was my imagination because no one else could smell it. As the smell grew stronger over the next few days, other people started picking up on it and it turned out there was in fact a gas leak. While that is quite a useful thing, I find I am incapable of being around anything malodorous. I'm struggling with certain parts of the housework where smells are involved (old food and that kind of thing) because as soon as I smell something bad I start wretching over and over, it's like it hits my stomach immediately and then I can't control the wretching. I'm having to make my boyfriend do all the dirty work around the house because I can't bear to be around anything with a smell.

I'm pretty sure I used to be able to cope with bad smells without the nausea and wretching, so is it possible this has something to do with anxiety?

4 Replies

Hello you, well it is weird but i did develop that as well!!! but i put it down to becoming a vegetarian. I stopped eating animal products and since then i have a very high nose detector :) i researched then and some of the articles i read saying by stopping eating animal products the sense of smell is higher than others.

is just when i go to supermarkets i can't pass by the meat section anymore, any cooking with meat makes me sick, cigarettes smells couldn't tolerate before and now i can;t breathe if i smell it. recycle food bin is major, every time i need to put it out turn my stomach inside out (almost vomited the other day).

so there is a new thing, unless you still eating meat this is cause of anxiety but if you are vegetarian that changes the formula :) ??


I'm not vegetarian, but I do find the smell of meat is one of the things that sets my stomach off the most. Particularly lamb, although I have always had an aversion to the smell of lamb and struggle to eat it, more because of the smell than the taste.

I've read that anxiety can make your senses more acute. I know that when I panic, I can't stand the feel of things touching me, it's like electric shocks going through my nerves when people touch me, and sounds are often nauseating. That's when I panic though.

I just experimented by going into the kitchen, which smells like rotten food at the moment, without holding my nose and breathing in slowly remaining calm. It smelt unpleasant, but I didn't retch and I was able to cope, so basically it's all in my mind, I just need to remain calm :).


Hello i believe all our senses are heightened smell,sound,taste,sight this comes from being in a high anxiety state.Ive been told once our senses desensitise everything returns back to normal.I have a problem with sound i cant have music on to loud or the tv.Hope this helps x

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HI i agree with claire, all our sences are hightened, i can smell everything but my boyfriend thinks im just being picking cos he cant smell a thing!!!! i hate loud noise, my eyes play tricks on me. i notice just about everything! hope your ok. x


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