What does it mean when you get a sinking feeling? (+3 tips)

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In this guide, we will discuss what does it mean when you get a sinking feeling and the possible emotions and thoughts we feel when we get a sinking feeling. 

We have all had the sinking feeling in our body at some point of the other, sometimes felt inside our stomach, sometimes throat, and sometimes all over the body. At times we feel like our hearts only sank and is now in our stomach.

But we have never been able to pinpoint where this feeling comes from and what causes it. It hits us suddenly and brings with itself feelings of uneasiness and dread.

It is a very terrifying feeling that accompanies the sinking feeling. The sinking feeling is confusing as it is not a physical reaction of the body, it is one that is triggered psychologically. That is when the mind is hit by some sudden thought or feeling, and our body feels like it is sinking. 

What does it mean when you get a sinking feeling?

Here are some of the possible explanations for when we get a sinking feeling inside our body:

  • A feeling of dread or discouragement
  • A sense of apprehension
  • A feeling caused by uneasiness 
  • A feeling that something bad is going to happen
  • A feeling of dread indicating that something bad has happened 

A feeling of dread or discouragement

The sinking feeling that we experience could be because of dread or discouragement that we feel inside.  The dread or discouragement can arise from a task undone or not being able to reach a goal we had set for ourselves. For example, the sudden sinking feeling that we might experience after seeing an ‘F’ on a test or getting to know by the boss that we are not going to get the promotion. It comes when we are hoping to achieve or to get somewhere we are not able to. The sinking feeling comes with feelings of failure at times. 

A sense of apprehension

The sinking feeling that we had can also mean that we are apprehensive about the future and it is the insecurity and uncertainty of it that is causing the feeling. Remember that feeling you had when you were anxiously waiting for news to come and as the time drew closer the sinking feeling increased. It was only released once the news was heard. Constantly worrying about the future can give the person a sinking feeling, especially if they imagine a negative future. For example, if a person starts to overthink about whether they will get the job or not and end up thinking in their mind that they won’t, they would experience the sinking feeling. 

A feeling caused by uneasiness 

Sometimes our thoughts or feelings can make us feel so uneasy that we have a sinking feeling inside us. It could be uneasiness about a person or a situation we are in. It is usually accompanied by feelings of nervousness and anxiety. In situations where we feel uncomfortable for a long time, we might experience the sinking feeling after we realize that nothing can be done by us to escape that uneasy situation. For example in case we are among a group of people we barely know and the only person we knew there leaves the party. For some of that causes uneasiness and a sinking feeling. 

A feeling that something bad is going to happen

When you get a sinking feeling it could be because of the feeling that something bad is going to happen to us or to a loved one. We fear that something might happen that is so bad and irreversible that we have a sinking feeling inside. We feel that sinking feeling in anticipation of something bad even when our rational logical side of the brain is telling us nothing like that will happen. 

A feeling of dread indicating that something bad has happened 

The sinking feeling that we feel inside our body could also mean that our body is manifesting it’s feeling of dread over the fact that something bad has happened. For example seeing our house burn down and not being able to do anything about it. The feeling of all is lost and no hope remains is generally accompanied by the sinking feeling. We feel like someone has removed our heart out of our body. Even the news about the death of a loved one can evoke a similar response in people. Especially those who are not able to process the fact that they lost someone and can’t bring themselves to cry, have a constant sinking feeling until they come terms to what happened. 

What we feel when we get a sinking feeling

The following are the possible emotions and thoughts we feel when we get a sinking feeling inside our body:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Nervousness
  • The occurrence of a tragic event 
  • Received sad news
  • Loss of loved one
  • Depression


Our body has a way of manifesting our emotions and feelings that are tormenting our brains to be seen as physical symptoms too. One of the physical symptoms seen in a person with anxiety along with fast heart rate, sweating and quick breathing is having a sinking feeling. It can be because we are anticipating something to happen that we wish to avoid or we are in a situation that is already making us anxious but we are unable to leave the situation. 

There are various medications to help treat anxiety but also various toys such as fidget toys which help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.

You can get a fidget ring or a spinner ring to control your anxiety.


Another feeling associated with the sinking feeling is that of stress. When we feel stressful we try and think of alternative solutions to our problems but at times we are so stressed that we are unable to think clearly and rationally. We are so worried about the future that we feel things turning for the worse and that feeling is seen as a sinking feeling inside our body. Once the stress is released the feeling of uneasiness that was experienced due to the sinking feeling is also gone. 


Under extreme nervous situations we have the sinking feeling inside our body where we feel that all our organs have been removed from our sides and that now we are empty. This can be experienced when we are about to go on the stage and address a large group of people. A person with stage fright is aware of the sinking feeling they get whenever they get on the stage or just in anticipation of it. The sinking feelings increase as the time to get on stage starts coming closer. 

The occurrence of a tragic event 

The moment we are told about the news of a tragic event our first reaction before we are to process the information is getting a sinking feeling inside our body. It is because while the logical side of the brain is still trying to process the I formation of the loss and how it happened, our emotional side of the brain has registered the tragedy. And that is causing the sinking feeling. Once we are able to process the information and start to formulate possible solutions in our mind we can ease the feeling of sinking inside of us. 

Received sad news

When we receive sad news especially the sinking feeling inside our body can increase then folds. Say for example you are to go on the stage and give a speech, you are already terrified of the thought and that is leading to a sinking feeling inside us. You further get to know that the mic is no longer working and you have to speak loudly facing the audience. Hearing this news will make you even more scared, increasing the sinking feeling inside. Depending upon the intensity of the situation the sinking feeling increases. 

Loss of loved one

When we get to know a loved one of ours is no longer there, we have a sinking feeling inside our body that represents loss and sadness. we are unable to process only the information that something like this could happen. Along with our brains we feel like every system in the body is closing down because of the grief. We are no longer able to process the information and therefore the experience of a sinking feeling comes in. We feel helpless and hopeless at that time and unable to understand how we can reverse it. 


When we feel depressed we feel like we are in a constant state of prolonged sadness. We lose interest in otherwise pleasurable activities, we have poor concentration and attention levels. This leaves us with an empty feeling inside and sometimes it is called having a sinking feeling. We are no longer able to contain the sadness and pain inside our heads and it starts to be felt by us inside different parts of our body too. 

If you have constant sinking feelings in your body seek out a mental health professional about it.

In this guide, we discussed what does it mean when you get a sinking feeling and the possible emotions and thoughts we feel when we get a sinking feeling. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

What we recommend for curbing Anxiety

Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety

Online Therapy

  • Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.

Anxiety Weighted Blankets

  • Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.

Light Therapy

  • Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night.  An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.

FAQs: What does it mean when you get a sinking feeling?

What causes the feeling of your heart sinking?

The fleeting feeling on our hearts that make us feel like our heart is fluttering is called heart palpitations and not a sign of worry generally. Heart palpations or the feeling of heart-sinking are caused by anxiety, hard workout, dehydration, or if you have consumed caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, or cold and cough medications.

What is the sinking feeling in stomach called?

The sinking feeling in the stomach is called hypnic/hypnogogic jerk. The loss of tone is what gives that sinking feeling and is what happens inside our stomachs.

What is meaning of sinking?

The word sinking is a transitive verb meaning to cause to sink a battleship. Another meaning is to force down something especially below the earth’s surface. The third meaning is to cause something to enter. It is also used as a synonym to immerse. 

Can anxiety damage your heart?

Anxiety can cause rapid heart rate (tachycardia) which in serious cases can increase the risk of a sudden cardiac arrest and can interfere with normal heart function. If the condition gets chronic it can lead to coronary disease, heart failure, and weakening of the heart muscles.

Why does my heart feel like it stops for a second?

Most of the time there is no need to worry if you feel like your heart stops for a second. But at times palpitations can be seen as a sign of trouble, especially when it feels like heaviness in the chest, head, or neck. Sometimes there might be flip-flopping of the throat or chest or the heart may stop or skip a beat for a second. 





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