How To Avoid Feeling Anxious
For some people, the best way to avoid the “hangxiety” may be to avoid alcohol altogether, or at least in large quantities, especially if you typically experience a lot of anxiety when youre not drinking, or have a history of panic disorder or panic attacks.
But at the same time, alcohols ability to reduce anxiety in the moment can be helpful in some situations, such as allowing someone with social anxiety to feel more comfortable socializing:
There are times that alcohol is effective in helping an anxious person feel more comfortable in social settings and uncomfortable situations, yet its not a solution to the cause of the underlying anxiety, says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly.
“Alcohol use is only a short-term remedy and doesnt address the underlying anxious process, Yusko says. Therefore, alcohol use becomes more necessary to feel better.
Over time, the use of alcohol can become a second problem, or serve as an avoidance behavior that actually maintains an anxiety disorder in the long term, Yusko adds. He doesnt believe all anxious people need to stay away from alcohol completely, but does recommend being careful about using alcohol as a way to cope with anxiety.
Why Does Alcohol Give You A Hangover
All too often, a fun night out with friends ends in a not-so-fun morning. And no matter how much you enjoyed the evening before, you probably hate being hungover. You may find yourself asking: Why does alcohol make people feel so sick?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism1, several factors contribute to hangovers.
To begin with, as your body metabolizes alcohol, it releases a compound called acetaldehyde2. This toxic compound causes inflammation throughout the body, especially in your liver, gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and brain. Inflammation plays a role in all sorts of illnesses, and it likely contributes to the sick feeling of a hangover too.
Alcohol also dehydrates you, which leads to headache, thirst, and fatigue. It irritates the lining of your stomach, causing nausea and sometimes vomiting. In addition, excessive consumption of alcohol disrupts your sleep, further contributing to fatigue and uneasiness.
Finally, as your brain attempts to rebalance itself after a night of drinking, you may experience a mini-withdrawal from alcohol. This can temporarily impact your nervous system, affecting your mood.
How To Prevent Hangxiety
If youre prone to anxiety after getting drunk, then the only way to prevent this from happening is by consuming less alcohol, says Dr. Bogenschutz. Stopping sooner, or substituting non-alcoholic drinks can reduce the total load of alcohol on the body, he says. There are also ways to minimize the severity of a hangover overall, which yes, start with drinking less alcohol, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The organization recommends having no more than one drink per hour and alternating alcoholic drinks and plain water. Staying hydrated will lower your chances of developing a headache the next morningwhich will at least help reduce how awful you feel.
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How Alcohol Increases Anxiety In Our Body
The positive emotions experienced in drinking like dizziness, constipation, and discomfort may be due to the alcohol content . However, similarly, as feelings of enthusiasm may occur as a result of an increase in BAC, a decrease in BAC may be acceptable to melancholy feelings. Sometimes, this crazy and exciting journey can raise concerns.
In logical terms, anxiety hangover contributes to psychology by lowering serotonin levels. This common body sender is a touch of gentleness, relaxation, and memory the key to balancing the parts that add to the strong body and sensible personality. Low serotonin levels, personal rest, brainstorming, and memory may be worse. If serotonin level is high, then these gaps will work better.
Alcohol Prevents Stress Coping
This is where alcohol can cause a serious problem. For many people, alcohol replaced your brain’s need to learn to cope with stress on its own. Alcohol doesn’t help you cope, it simply numbs emotions. That’s why many people turn to alcohol for anxiety conditions such as:
- Panic Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
You may not have turned to alcohol because you had anxiety, but everyone deals with day to day stresses, and when drinking these stresses are numbed, but not dealt with. It’s like using a powerful painkiller on an open wound – you won’t feel any pain, but the wound will keep bleeding.
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Youve Had A Wonderful Night Out
Or a wonderful day out and youve enjoyed some drinks and of course, once you start drinking, you want to drink more and you want to eat more and youre having a wonderful time and you just drink more and more and more until suddenly, youre not having such a wonderful time anymore.
And often times, it results in you waking up the next morning feeling very much worse for wear, feeling hung over and tired and thirsty and sick.
‘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.”
Take Stock Of Your Drinking Habits
Navqi emphasized that if drinking to the point of hangxiety isnt enough to slow you down, you might want to take a hard look at how much youre drinking. Regularly treating ones hangovers is a sign of a drinking problem, not a solution, he said, adding that you can chalk up an instance of hangxiety to a lesson learned. It is better for your health to fully experience hangxiety so that its more likely to deter you from future heavy drinking.
If you think youve been drinking too much and would like some help slowing down, Navqi recommended seeking information from RethinkingDrinking, a website from the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
How Long Does Hangxiety Last
Fortunately, GABA rebound is only a temporary setback hangxiety resolves itself for most people within a day or two. In my experience, like the rest of the hangover, hangxiety can start to be felt as soon as the last bit of alcohol is eliminated from the bloodstream for most people, this is in the morning after a night of drinking.
Hangxiety can also play a role in our sleep. My sleep can easily be ruined by overdrinking. If I drink a small amount of alcohol and fall asleep, I will wake up with hangxiety once the alcohol has worn off. If I drink a large amount, I’ll sleep through that night, but will typically have poor sleep, nightmares, or even nocturnal panic attacks the following night or two.
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Can Alcohol Cause Anxiety Or Make It Worse
Alcohol use can cause new onset anxiety and worsen pre-existing anxiety symptoms. Many individuals will use alcohol as an unhealthy coping tool to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Alcohol may be a temporary, unhealthy way to relieve anxiety and forget about your underlying stressors, however using alcohol does not erase these underlying triggers. Whether your anxiety is related to past trauma, financial stress, or untreated depression alcohol is merely a temporary Band-Aid and the longer one depends on alcohol to help treat their anxiety, the more at risk they are for developing an alcohol use disorder. Additionally, symptoms of anxiety will still be lurking around the corner as the underlying triggers have not been properly addressed and treated.
Chronic alcohol use affects your ability to respond to stress in healthy and effective ways, which can lead to anxiety. This may be due to alcohols effect on the amygdala, the area of your brain that regulates negative emotions. Brain imaging studies have found abnormalities in amygdala functioning in individuals with alcohol use disorder.3
How To Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
When cutting back on caffeine, its best to do it gradually. Caffeine withdrawal is recognized as a mental disorder and can lead to symptoms such as brain fog, depression, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, muscle aches, and nausea.
Although caffeine withdrawal is not considered dangerous it can be unpleasant, and youre more likely to fail if you simply go cold turkey.
To reduce caffeine intake:
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Alcohol Affects Natural Endorphin Levels
The same boom and bust of dopamine and serotonin that can lead to hangxiety also applies to endorphins. The body uses endorphins to manage stress and pain. So, when alcohol is first consumed, and endorphin levels increase, people may feel less stress. This is why alcohol can have a calming effect and is a key reason why many people drink. However, when these endorphin levels become depressed and decrease after blood alcohol levels decrease, the drop-off of endorphins can lead to anxious feelings. The decrease in endorphins not only causes hangxiety, but also makes us feel less equipped to handle the normal stressors of the upcoming day. Work stress, family stress, and other influences can feel even more overwhelming and can make us want to drink even more to seek relief. This is an unhealthy coping cycle that can be broken with the support of online alcohol treatment.
Alcohol Also Affects The Chemicals In Your Brain Which Can Spike Anxiety
Alcohol is a sedative, which is part of why some people temporarily feel better after a few drinks. Unfortunately, Newtons Law applies here: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, says Brad Lander, Ph.D., addiction medicine specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. If youve only had a moderate amount to drink, its probably not going to be super noticeable. But if youd had a larger amount to drink, the bounce-back effect will be more pronounced, Lander notes.
Theres also the fact that alcohol affects your brain chemistry. The pleasant feeling we get from drinking comes from a rise in serotonin in the brain, Lander says. But alcohol also affects other neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers with many functions, including sending messages between your brain and body. Drinking causes gamma-aminobutyric acid to go down, which accounts for the disinhibition that happens when we drink. Think: kissing a stranger or calling your ex, Lander explains. As the GABA levels go down, glutamate levels go up, and glutamate is associated with anxiety.
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Alcohol And Anxiety The Vicious Circle
If you suffer from anxiety, you might think that a couple of drinks will help you relax.
In fact, alcohol can make an anxious person feel worse. Heres an example of a typical cycle:
- You drink alcohol
- You initially feel calm as the alcohol affects the brain
- You feel anxiety as a symptom of alcohol withdrawal as your body processes the alcohol
- You may want to drink again to try to relieve your anxiety
But this only starts the process from the beginning. As the initial calm feeling fades you can feel anxiety after stopping drinking alcohol build again as the effects wear off.
Remember the more alcohol you drink, the greater your tolerance will be. Over time you may need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effects. Over-time this may negatively affect your mental health, resulting in heightened levels of anxiety and depression after drinking.
Does Alcohol Cause Anxiety
Whats the relationship between alcohol & anxiety? Drinking alcohol interferes with your brains neurotransmitters. Again, alcohol triggers a release of feel-good hormones in the brain after a couple of drinks. But by the time youre sobering up, these chemicals are gone.
This means that the levels of stress-relieving and pain-reducing hormones in your brain may be lower when you sober up than they were when you started drinking. And this can happen just hours after youve had a few drinks.
Doctors often attribute anxiety after drinking to withdrawal from alcohol. If you experience mild anxiety after having a few too many, it may be attributable to a much milder version of severe withdrawal. More intense versions of the same symptoms are commonplace for heavy drinkers and binge drinkers experiencing physical withdrawal from alcohol.
And people with an alcohol use disorder are 2 3 times more likely to have anxiety. Unfortunately, using alcohol only worsens mental health issues in the long run.
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How To Deal With Hangxiety
If youve ever had a long night of drinking, youve likely experienced the physical effects of a hangover. These might include a pounding headache, nausea, feeling tired and weak, sensitivity to light, sweating, and a pressing need to drink water.
But for many people, the symptoms of a hangover dont stop there. The headache and nausea come with another unwelcome companion: hangxiety, or hangover anxiety.
Do you ever feel a sense of dread or worry after a night of drinking? Do you frantically playback everything you said and did the night before, concerned you may have embarrassed yourself or caused offense? Thats hangxiety.
For some people, these post-drinking feelings of shame, worry, and stress are powerful enough to cause an ongoing cycle. They may medicate their anxiety after drinking with more alcohol, compounding the problem.
If all this sounds familiar, you may be wondering: What causes hangxiety? And how can I make it stop?
Who Does It Affect
If youâve ever suffered from symptoms of hangxiety youâre not alone. It can affect anyone and is probably more common than you think. A Dutch study of 1400 students, published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, found that nearly half reported agitation the day after drinking. Others reported feelings of confusion, guilt and regret.
Hangxiety can happen sporadically, or every time you drink. Every person is different, and every night out is different. You drink different amounts, eat different foods and quantities, and you may take different medications.
If you already suffer from anxiety, or any other mental health problems, alcohol can worsen your symptoms. If you suffer social anxiety disorder, you may worry heavily about your behaviour while you were drunk if you have general anxiety disorder you might struggle with sleep and feel extreme stress when the alcohol wears off.