Alcohol & Anxiety

by | Aug 28, 2023 | Education

Through the summer months we may notice that we are consuming more alcohol as we are attending more summer events. With increased alcohol consumption we may notice a variety of new symptoms, both physical and mental. One of those being increased anxiety after a night of drinking, this term has been coined “hangxiety”. This hangxiety makes us feel as if we are repeating the events in our head from the previous night; this brings up many feelings including guilt, embarrassment, or shame. Physically, we may feel as if we are sweating profusely, noticing a higher heart rate, and having difficulty being present.

Why do we experience this?
As alcohol is a depressant it causes sedative-like effects during the course of the evening of drinking. During the course of consumption we gain an excess of endorphins, these are the chemicals in our brain that make us feel good. The body cannot produce endless amounts of endorphins so it is at a deficit. The following day, we feel drained as the brain and body work hard to regain a baseline level of chemicals. During this process of regulation there can be increased levels of cortisol, this is the hormone that makes us feel anxious and stressed. Symptoms of hangxiety can be increased if we are sleep deprived, dehydrated, or drinking in excess to combat social anxiety.

Are there ways to reduce the symptoms?
If you would like to completely rid yourself of these symptoms it may be beneficial to look at non- alcoholic options or cut out alcohol from your lifestyle. If you are looking to manage and reduce symptoms there are some preventative tips. Focus attention on hydration and food consumptions as a means of combating physical symptoms. Mitigating sleep deprivation is also a key the day prior. You may also want to go into the evening with a plan of how many beverages you feel comfortable consuming. For mental symptoms a worry journal may be beneficial to process your anxious thoughts, as well as focusing on self soothing self care activities. If you are concerned or questioning your relationship with alcohol this could be the time to reach out to a trusted therapist and have these discussions in a safe place.

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