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Can Alcohol Make Anxiety Worse

The Problem With Moping

Is drinking making your anxiety worse? Alcohol & Anxiety Explained

Moping – or some form of moping – is incredibly common. By moping, we do not mean taking a short time to recharge. Everyone needs some alone time once in a while. Spending a few hours to unwind at the end of a rough day is a great way to reduce stress.

No, in this case, “moping” is this idea that doing nothing is a solution to anxiety. It is the act of intentionally avoiding any life changes, feeling bad for yourself, and hoping that anxiety will go away.

Feeling like you need to sit and do nothing and that you will somehow feel better is a function of anxiety. Anxiety completely drains the body. It makes it hard to want to do much of anything. Anxiety makes you feel like you want to be alone, and that that the best strategy to get rid of it is to “veg out” until you feel better.

Unfortunately, this is a common mistake that has the potential to make your anxiety much worse. Ideally, you need to stay active. You need to be surrounded by friends and try your best to get out there. You need to exercise and have new experiences. Avoiding those experiences because you want to cope with your anxiety alone causes several issues that make anxiety worse:

Moping behaviors are not the only mistake people make with anxiety, and it may not even be the worst. But it is a widespread reaction to anxiety and stress and one that needs to be stopped in order to manage your anxiety.

How Does Alcohol Withdrawal Affect Anxiety

Unfortunately, alcohol withdrawal exacerbates anxiety, especially in the first 24 hours sober from alcohol. Part of the reason this period is so painful is because the brain that was used to alcohol is thrown out of balance when alcohol goes away. As a result, theres a simultaneous flood and deprivation of chemicals in the brain. This can temporarily make anxiety worse. Fortunately, treatment centers give medications to take away the anxiety of withdrawal.

First Off How Do You Know If Youre Dealing With Anxiety

Anxiety is a serious condition that can hugely affect your quality of life. But anxiety is also a term we throw around a lot. What is the technical definition of anxiety and how do you know if you suffer from it?

According to the Mayo Clinic , anxiety is intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations.

There are multiple conditions that fall under the umbrella of anxiety. These range from specific phobias to social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.

Basically, if youre feeling nervousness, tension, an impending sense of doom, increased heart rate, constant worry, or physical symptoms like troubled sleeping and digestion youre dealing with anxiety!

And youre far from alone. The club of anxiety sufferers is a huge one: 40 million Americans suffer with anxiety on a regular basis.

If you suffer with occasional or chronic anxiety, know theres absolutely nothing wrong with you. Getting help with your mental health via a therapist, doctor, or both is one of the most empowering ways to show yourself radical self-love.

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‘blacking Out’ Can Be Stressful

Furthermore, if you drink heavily, you could experience what some people call a ‘blackout’ where they don’t recall the events of the evening prior. It’s reasonable that you would feel out-of-sorts the next day and worry about having a period of time where you can’t remember anything, says Hanna Stensby, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist.

“It makes sense that you would feel a sense of panic as you try to piece together what your actions were,” Stensby says. “Not knowing what occurred or with who can leave you feeling anxious for a good reason.”

It Can Negatively Affect Your Sleep

Alcohol and anxiety: Link, risks, and treatment

A good nights sleep restores our body and minds and is vital to minding your mental health. Because alcohol is a depressant it makes you sleepy at times but the sleep you get after drinking is of a much lower quality than the sleep you get when you are not drinking.

This is because alcohol can reduce the amount of Rapid Eye Movement sleep you get, leaving you feeling drowsy, low in energy and you may find it harder to concentrate the next day.

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Alcohol Can Lead To Withdrawal Symptoms

Severe hangovers and withdrawal symptoms if you drink regularly can put both your mind and your body through stress. Withdrawal symptoms during a severe hangover can include:

  • Sweating.
  • Feeling sick.
  • Paranoia.

The fact that all these physiological changes can cause symptoms so similar to those of a panic attack can trick your brain into having a real one.

Can Alcohol Cause Anxiety And Panic Attacks

As you drink alcohol, it acts as a sedative which can make you feel more at ease. This can be dangerously addictive if you have frequent anxious thoughts. This type of self-medication can lead to alcohol dependency and may result in regular, alcohol-induced panic attacks.

It’s important to note that while there are many health risks associated with drinking alcohol, you are less likely to experience an alcohol-induced panic attack if you are not already vulnerable to panic attacks – or other symptoms of panic disorder. Yet if you are, alcohol can cause you to have panic attacks more frequently and make them worse.

The physiological changes that alcohol triggers in your body can result in symptoms that are like a panic attack. This can then bring on panic attacks or make them worse. When the body feels physical stress it also tends to feel mental stress because the physical symptoms are interpreted by the brain as stress and worry.

Alcohol and anxiety: can booze trigger panic attacks?

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How Does Alcohol Affect The Anxious Brain

Drinking beer or wine may seem like a helpful way to ease anxiety. In fact, alcohol causes intense feelings of pleasure by raising levels of a chemical known as dopamine in the brain. Thats also what causes you to want more alcohol.

But while small amounts of alcohol can be relaxing and ease temporary feelings of anxiousness, it doesnt do much to help treat an anxiety disorderand could do more harm than good. Once the flow of alcohol stops and dopamine levels come back to normal, those positive feelings go away and may leave anxious feelings in their wake.

The hallmark of anxiety disorderssuch as generalized anxiety disorder , social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder is persistent, overwhelming worry and fear. People with anxiety disorders often have an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, like dopamine. And alcohol can make anxiety disorders worse by further disrupting that balance.

What Is It Like To Feel Anxious After Drinking Alcohol

Does Alcohol Cause Depression & Anxiety – Is alcohol making you depressed?

The signs and symptoms of anxiety that people can experience after drinking alcohol can include sweating, restlessness, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, tremor, feeling tense and easily overwhelmed, and wanting to avoid people and responsibilities, Jaffe says.

You might feel irritable and worry about things unnecessarily, and could even have a panic attack.

For people that are predisposed to feeling symptoms of panic, the bodily sensations of alcohol withdrawal can trigger a panic attack due to a person misinterpreting those sensations as something more dangerous than they actually are, Yusko says.

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It Messes With Your Brain

Booze can make you feel liberated and joyful, but too much can have the opposite affect on your mood and disposition. Alcohol interferes with the chemicals, or neurotransmitters, in the brain, says Ashley Loeb Blassingame, a certified alcohol and drug counselor and the co-founder of Lionrock, an online substance abuse recovery program.

More pointedly, alcohol can affect our serotonin levels, which are responsible for feelings of happiness and pleasure. “As the alcohol wears off, anxiety increases because the body is responding to it being sedated and, as a result, tries to find equilibrium,” Blassingame says. “The hyperactivity, created by a chemical reaction to being sedated, leads to increased feelings of anxiety and uneasiness.”

Anxiety Disorders Are Linked To Alcohol And Drugs

There is a strong link between alcohol and anxiety. Research shows that people with anxiety disorders are two to three times more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol at some point in their lives than the general population. But that’s not all: Alcohol and drugs can often cause panic attacks, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America .

People with social anxiety, in particular, may turn to alcohol in order to lessen their symptoms, but alcohol can actually make anxiety worse. About 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder also have an alcohol or substance abuse disorder, notes the ADAA. No matter which problem comes first, the combination of drugs, alcohol, and anxiety can become a vicious cycle.

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Overuse Of Coffee Booze And Over

Its no secret that living through the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2020 in general, has been emotionally exhausting. People have been isolated and social distancing, many struggling with losing a job or income. Some are treating extremely ill patients on the frontlines, dealing with the loss of friends or family members and so much more, all while trying to process an endless barrage of disasters, political turmoil and bad news unrelated to the pandemic. All this strife can be especially hard on anyone already coping with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Taking care of yourself right now may include understanding how a daily coffee or cocktail habit could be influencing your wellbeing. Everyday substances like caffeine and alcohol, when consumed in excess, can exacerbate underlying mental health issues like anxiety and depression. And seemingly harmless drugs in your medicine cabinet, like allergy or cold meds, can interact with medications used for treating mental health to bring about serious consequences.

What Is Anxiety Disorder

Alcohol and anxiety: Link, risks, and treatment

For many people, anxiety can be an intrusive force that prevents them from enjoying day-to-day life in a healthy manner. When someone has extreme anxiety that affects important aspects of their life, they may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are very common in the United States, reportedly affecting 40 million adults or about 18% of the population every year. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only about 37% of people with an anxiety disorder seek treatment for their condition.

There are many different types of anxiety disorder, but to some extent, they all feature ongoing and excessive feelings of anxiety and worry that are difficult to control.

Read Also: Can Anxiety Cause Acid Reflux

How Alcohol Worsens Anxiety And Panic Disorder

Alcohol alters levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, and these will worsen anxiety and other symptoms of your panic disorder. It may cause you to feel more anxious once the alcohol wears off. Using alcohol to cope with panic disorder is dangerous. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that nearly 7 percent of Americans struggle with social anxiety disorder.

Does Drinking Alcohol Help Anxiety

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and as such can temporarily calm your system down. However, this can often have the opposite effect the next day as the alcohol wears off. And on top of this, the relief many people feel when they drink may turn out to be a placebo effect.

In one 2004 study10, participants were ranked based on how much they thought drinking could improve their anxiety. Then many of them were given a non-alcoholic beverage that they were told contained booze. The male participants who thought alcohol was good at lowering anxiety and who took the placebo experienced greater stress reduction. They experienced more than the participants who didnt think drinking could help.

In other words, stress relief from alcohol may have a lot to do with the belief that it works, vs its real effects. And the real impacts of alcohol on your system will likely make you more anxious long-term.

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How Are Alcoholism And Anxiety Treated

Since alcoholism and anxiety are so closely related, healthcare providers are used to treating them together. A type of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective way to treat both conditions. CBT works by helping you identify how alcohol is affecting your life and change the way you think about your fears and struggles, with the ultimate goal of improving your behavior and how you cope. In addition to therapy, your healthcare provider may also recommend prescription medications to treat either or both conditions.

Where Can I Get Help If I Struggle With Alcoholism And Anxiety

Can Alcohol Dependency Cause Anxiety

Wanting to treat alcoholism is a good first step, but getting help in the process is critical to minimize the risk of severe alcohol withdrawal which can be deadly.

If you struggle with alcoholism and anxiety, have a conversation about alcoholism treatment with your healthcare provider. Dont be shy about it either. Your healthcare provider is trained in ways to help you and treat your conditions without judgement.

If you or a loved one has an alcohol problem, you can also get help by calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP . You can also find helpful resources through the American Addiction Centers.

Recommended Reading: How To Help With Panic Attacks Anxiety

Do Not Waste Your Time And Funds On The Wrong Rehab

Choosing the wrong rehab can not only mean a loss of time or money, but it can also mean the loss of an opportunity. This is the saddest part. When we take major steps to change our life that don’t work out, it tends to weaken our motivation. We may even give up on the idea of a new life completely – at least temporarily.

If you have any further questions regarding concurrent disorders or would like to find out more about Hope Rehab in general, treatment in Thailand or our program in particular, please dont hesitate to drop us a message.

Signs And Symptoms Of Depression

To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder or another depressive disorder, people typically need to display symptoms almost every day for at least 2 weeks. The symptoms are severe enough that they cause significant stress and impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.5 While the specific types of depressive disorders can look a bit different, they tend to share common symptoms that include:1,5,6

  • A persistent low mood, feelings of sadness, and/or feeling anxious or empty.
  • Feeling hopeless or pessimistic.
  • Feeling excessively or inappropriately guilty, worthless, or helpless.
  • Losing interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies you once enjoyed.
  • A lack of energy or fatigue.
  • Moving or talking more slowly than usual.
  • Difficulty thinking, remembering, or making decisions.
  • Changes in sleep, such as trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping more than usual .
  • Changes in appetite with significant weight loss or weight gain .
  • Having thoughts of self-harm, death, or suicide, or making suicidal attempts.
  • Aches, pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that arent easily explainable and do not improve with treatment.

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