Many people experience anxiety after drinking. These feelings are sometimes referred to as “hangxiety,” and can last several hours after an individual’s blood alcohol levels return to normal. Although experts are unsure why some people experience certain hangover symptoms while others do not, there is evidence that suggests certain risk factors make alcohol-related anxiety more likely.
In research conducted in 2017, more than 1800 persons between ages 18-30 completed a survey that included questions about a wide variety of hangover symptoms. Although anxiety was among the least commonly reported symptoms, it still affected more than 20 percent of subjects, and certain people may be more susceptible to experiencing these than others.
Potential causes of anxiety during a hangover include the following.
Sometimes, anxiety that manifests during a hangover is a product of specific actions during or after drinking, rather than being related to the alcohol itself. For instance, an individual with a hangover may drink coffee to relieve symptoms, which can trigger anxiety in some people.
People may also feel hangxiety if they cannot remember what happened (blackouts) when they were drunk or said or did things they regret. Impaired cognitive function, which includes a reduced ability to enact well-advised decisions, is common during a hangover. It may result in actions that induce anxiety when a person reflects on them later.
Presence of Anxiety Disorders
Individuals with anxiety disorders may use alcohol in an attempt to manage symptoms. As a result, they will often feel more stressed out and anxious when not drinking.
Some individuals with chronic anxiety find that their symptoms are exacerbated during a hangover. Dehydration, an upset stomach, and exhaustion may make the experience of anxiety feel more physically and mentally intense.
A study from 2019 highlights a potential link between shyness, alcohol use, and anxiety. Findings suggest that drinking led to a slight decrease in anxiety among shy individuals. However, the next day, they reported experiencing more intense anxiety. Investigators also noted an association between alcohol use disorder and anxiety elevation among study participants.
Having an Alcohol Use Disorder
Individuals with alcohol use disorder may experience withdrawal when they do not consume alcohol, and shakiness and anxiety may be symptoms of withdrawal. Some research has suggested that people with social anxiety disorder are more likely than other people to display alcohol dependence or abuse signs.
Amount of Alcohol Consumed
It is possible to get a hangover even after relatively mild consumption. However, the risk of hangxiety unquestionably increases in many cases concerning the amount of alcohol a person drinks. This is because excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to other hangover risk factors, such as dehydration. It can also have a more intense effect on how individuals behave while drinking, which they may regret or feel worried about during a hangover.
What Causes Hangovers?
Some individuals experience anxiety every time they are hungover. The interaction of several factors may induce a hangover, including the following:
- Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, which can cause dehydration. The dehydration may be worse for people who drink insufficient water alongside alcohol.
- Sleep deprivation: Sometimes, spending an evening drinking leads to a late night episode with little sleep.
- Acetaldehyde: The liver breaks down alcohol and helps the body eliminate it. This metabolization creates a byproduct called acetaldehyde that causes inflammation in the brain, pancreas, liver, digestive tract, and other organs.
People with hangover-related anxiety may incite other symptoms, such as thirst, fatigue, digestive issues, body aches, elevated heart rate, restlessness, feelings of guilt, and difficulty concentrating. Fortunately, hangxiety is not typically long-lasting. In instances in which anxiety lingers longer than a few hours, this may be a sign of a different issue, such as alcohol withdrawal syndrome or a diagnosable anxiety disorder.
Individuals should consider keeping a log of anxiety issues that follow drinking to ascertain whether certain circumstances or alcohol amounts cause anxiety.
Other strategies that might help include the following:
- Drinking water during and after alcohol consumption
- Avoiding coffee and other stimulants that may increase anxiety
- Drinking only with trusted loved ones
- Avoiding persons and places that may encourage behavior that a person will regret the next day
- Other people may wish to prevent hangover-related stress by reducing or eliminating drinking.
Getting Treatment for Alcoholism
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