Why do you get a lump in your throat when you are sad? (2024)

Feeling a lump in your throat when you’re sad is a common experience that many people encounter. Known medically as ‘globus sensation’ or ‘globus pharyngeus’, this feeling can be unsettling and uncomfortable. But what exactly causes this sensation? Let’s delve into the physiological and psychological factors behind why you get a lump in your throat when you’re feeling down.

Understanding the Phenomenon: Physiological Factors

When experiencing intense emotions like sadness or grief, your body undergoes various physiological changes. One of the key contributors to the sensation of a lump in your throat is the tightening of muscles in your throat and neck region. These muscles include those of the pharynx, which connects your mouth to your esophagus, and the muscles surrounding your larynx, or voice box.

The Fight-or-Flight Response

The activation of your body’s stress response system, also known as the fight-or-flight response, plays a significant role in this phenomenon. When you’re in an emotionally charged state, the sympathetic nervous system is triggered, leading to the release of stress hormones like adrenaline. These hormones can cause muscle tension throughout your body, including your throat.

Oxygenation: A Vital Aspect

Another aspect contributing to the sensation of a lump in your throat is your body’s response to needing more oxygen during times of heightened emotion. When the stress response is activated, your body requires increased oxygen to prepare for fight or flight. Consequently, signals are sent to the glottis, the opening in your throat that facilitates airflow into your lungs, to remain open wider than usual to facilitate better oxygen intake.

Psychological Influences

In addition to physiological factors, psychological influences also play a significant role in the sensation of a lump in your throat.

Emotional Impact

Emotions can manifest as physical sensations, and the anticipation of crying or expressing intense emotions can trigger a tightening of the throat muscles. This psychological aspect contributes to the feeling of constriction or lump-like sensation in your throat.

Coping Strategies: Practical Advice

While the sensation of a lump in your throat can be distressing, there are strategies to help alleviate it:

Deep Breathing

Taking slow, deep breaths can help relax the muscles and reduce tension in your throat area, providing relief from the sensation.

Relaxation Techniques

Engaging in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindfulness practices can also be beneficial in reducing muscle tension and promoting overall relaxation.

Seeking Support

Seeking emotional support from trusted friends, family members, or a therapist can help address underlying emotions contributing to the sensation of a lump in your throat.

Self-Care Practices

Practicing stress-management techniques, including regular exercise, adequate sleep, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation, can help reduce overall tension and anxiety, thereby alleviating the sensation of a lump in your throat.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What exactly is ‘globus sensation’?

‘Globus sensation’ refers to the feeling of having a lump in your throat, often experienced during times of emotional distress.

2. Is a lump in the throat a sign of a serious medical condition?

In most cases, a lump in the throat sensation is benign and not indicative of a serious medical issue. However, if the sensation persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional.

3. Can anxiety contribute to the sensation of a lump in the throat?

Yes, anxiety and heightened emotional states can exacerbate the sensation of a lump in the throat by increasing muscle tension in the neck and throat region.

4. Are there any home remedies for relieving the sensation of a lump in the throat?

Yes, practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and mindfulness, can help alleviate the sensation. Additionally, staying hydrated and avoiding irritants like caffeine and tobacco may provide relief.

5. When should I seek medical attention for a lump in my throat?

If the sensation persists despite trying home remedies or is accompanied by difficulty swallowing, pain, or other concerning symptoms, it’s advisable to seek medical evaluation to rule out any underlying medical conditions.


Experiencing a lump in your throat when you’re sad is a common phenomenon that results from a combination of physiological and psychological factors. By understanding these factors and implementing coping strategies such as deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and seeking emotional support, you can effectively manage and alleviate this discomforting sensation, promoting overall well-being and emotional resilience.

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Why do you get a lump in your throat when you are sad? (2024)


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