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.”
What Causes Hangover Anxiety
Alcohol has many complicated effects on the brain and body, but the most important thing to know is that it is a depressant which means that it dampens our flight-or-fight mechanisms as well as our stress mechanisms, some of which are mediated by a core structure in our brain called the amygdala. This means that when the dampening effects of alcohol subside, it’s common to experience something that’s akin to a “mini withdrawal syndrome,” according to George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism .
“When the alcohol wears off, that system comes back with a kind of vengeance so there’s always some kind of rebound,” Dr. Koob explains. “And so ‘hangxiety’ is basically a rebound anxiety from the suppression in anxiety or stress that the alcohol caused during this acute action.”
In other words, a hangover is the result of experiencing alcohol withdrawal, and anxiety can be one of the many withdrawal effects you experience, along with typical physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and nausea. When it comes to feelings of anxiety specifically, think of it as your brain becoming re-activated after a drug suppressing your neuron activity wears off, says psychiatrist . “Because you took this depressant, you now have a small dose of withdrawal and your brain becomes a little activated, so you’ll feel anxious,” he explains.
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 Alcoholism, several factors contribute to hangovers.
To begin with, as your body metabolizes alcohol, it releases a compound called acetaldehyde. 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.
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The Experience Of Hangxiety
You might be experiencing it right now. The alcohol has worn off, and things dont feel so good anymore. You may be worried about what you said to people or how you acted when you were intoxicated. The worry might even be so intense that it wakes you up from sleep when the alcohol is leaving your system.
Plus, if you drink often and in large quantities, your body compensates for the depressive effect alcohol has on your central nervous system . This system takes in information from your senses and processes it. Its also responsible for controlling motor function, reason, and emotion.
Your brain may learn to make up for the depressive effects alcohol has on your CNS by keeping on high alert.
Its an adaptive strategy while theres alcohol in your system, but once the alcohol and its depressive effects wear off, your brain is left on high alert. This is another reason you may feel anxious after drinking alcohol.
Drinking heavily over the long term can cause disruptions to your brains normal chemical levels, leading to even more intense anxiety due to alcohol withdrawal.
On top of these factors, the common symptoms of a hangover, like dehydration, shakiness, increased heart rate, and low blood sugar, can cause feelings of restlessness and agitation.
‘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.”
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How To Manage Hangxiety
If you experience terrible hangxiety, here are a few tips on how to calm anxiety at night or ease your anxiety the day after drinking.
Anxiety After Drinking And Mental Illness
The other primary reason teens experience anxiety when theyre done drinking is because they have an anxiety disorder. Many teens dont know much about mental health, so theyre unaware when theyre suffering from an anxiety disorder. When teens begin self-medicating their anxiety with drinking, their brain becomes trained to want alcohol in these situations. This can intensify cravings whenever theyre not only anxious but merely nervous.
For your teen to truly recover, its essential that they go to a teen anxiety treatment program that specializes in dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis is when a person is struggling with a mental illness as well as a dependence to substance. Through anxiety treatment, your teen will learn to understand his or her anxiety and how to cope with it better. By working with trained professionals, your teen will see that they dont need to turn to alcohol to manage their anxiety.
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And Here Comes The Anxiety
The feeling in the middle of the night, or the morning after of oh no, what did I do? Or what did I say that for? Or even I cant remember what happened can be really disturbing, and is not something to be taken lightly.
On a brain chemistry level, it may be because memory formation is impeded by low glutamate levels. And there are obviously lots of concerns with being sufficiently drunk that you are having black-outs and memory problems.
Important: if a heavy regular drinker stops suddenly, the combo of low Gaba function and spiking glutamate can be really dangerous, leading to fits and seizures. Do not stop drinking suddenly without seeking medical advice.
Why Drinking Makes Your Anxiety Worse
Anxiety is something we all have some experience with. It can range from minor irritation to a full-on panic attack, and when anxiety occurs chronically, it can seriously impact our day-to-day lives.
As adults, we become conditioned to think of alcohol as a way to deal with anxietyhow many times have we said: I need a drink after a stressful day or event? However, dependence on alcohol as a way to numb ourselves to anxiety is problematic, because alcohol can exacerbate the anxiety were already feeling. If youve ever drank too much because you were anxious, only to wake up the next day with a hangover feeling even more stressed out than you did the night before, youll know what we mean.
The good news is that its possible to break the cycle of drinking to deal with anxiety. In this article, well give you some background on the relationship between anxiety and alcohol, and how you can learn healthier ways to cope.
In the following three sections, well cover:
- Understanding the connection between alcohol and anxiety
- How changing your relationship with alcohol can help your anxiety
- Things you can do right now to manage your anxiety
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If You Think You Feel More Worked Up Than You Should The Day After Drinking Its Worth Bringing Up To A Mental Health Provider
To reiterate, having a bout of hangover anxiety is not a direct sign of anxiety disorder. It is simply the symptom of drinking too much alcohol and causing the mind and body to experience anxiety as a result of alcohol withdrawal, says Hafeez.
But if you feel so anxious or low after drinking that it’s interfering with your day to day or you can’t seem to snap out of it, evaluate your relationship with alcohol and examine how it impacts your mental health. The questions Hafeez suggests you ask: Whats the motive for drinking enough alcohol to cause hangxiety in the first place? Are you over-drinking because of social anxiety, depression, or general anxiety, or to escape?
Everyones tolerance and response to alcohol is different, but most importantly, Dr. Koob says, it shouldnt be interfering with a healthy existence.
If youre struggling with alcohol, consult a professional. The NIAAA site has a treatment navigator where you can find treatment facilities in your zip code.
Annie Answers Why Do I Have Anxiety After Drinking
The racing mind. Feeling like youre crawling out of your own skin. General restlessness and unease. Thats what tends to hit after a night of drinking. Anxiety after drinking is a common problem and one we tend to brush off until weve decided to stop or cut back. Why do we feel anxiety after drinking and how can we deal with it?
After a night of heavy drinking, its common to get severe anxiety the next day. In fact, it can even last days or even weeks past the night of heavy drinking. Is that anxiety still related to the drinking, and whats causing it? Is it mental or chemical or what?
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What Is It Like To Feel Anxious After Drinking Alcohol
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.
What Causes Hangxiety
“The anxiety symptoms are from the alcohol leaving your body,” Yoon tells Yahoo Life, explaining that the process is a withdrawal cycle. When an individual drinks alcohol, their brain becomes excited and produces pleasurable feelings. Once the alcohol wears off, your brain goes into overdrive, seeking more of the substance.
“For many people it lasts until they start drinking again, and it’s a negative cycle,” says Yoon. “For binge-drinkers, it’s a little bit worse because their brain gets sensitized to alcohol: When they drink, their brain is happy, but when they stop drinking for a period of time, the brain reacts until they start drinking again.”
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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.
But There Are Psychological Reasons For Feeling Anxiety Post
For some drinkers, the hangover anxiety is almost as predictable as the pounding headache and queasy stomach, says Hafeez. The heart-racing, sweaty-palmed, antsy-stomach feeling is often related to worrying about the consequences of a blackout, or of being in a state of mind where there are holes in your memory and fears about things you said or did.
Thoughts of, what did I say to my boss?, or, did I approach the person I like? come flooding into your mind, and the anxiety surrounding what you said or did to embarrass yourself might be the culprit. Other times, Hafeez says, the hangxiety might not be related to anything specific, and might just be an overall feeling of uneasiness.
Sometimes, because people tend to use alcohol as a social lubricant, the anxiety comes creeping back in as soon as the alcohol starts to wear off. Anxiety and depression are often related to alcohol abuse, because the person has more anxiety when theyre not drinking rather than drinking, Koob notes.
In other cases, someone may still have anxiety when they are drinking, but according to Hafeez, just two drinks is enough to relax the brainat least temporarily, anyway.
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