It is not unusual for someone who has grown addicted to alcohol to experience anxiety symptoms. This can occur as a result of the effects of alcohol consumption on a person’s body or as a result of withdrawal if they go too long without drinking.

Serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain are affected by alcohol, which can exacerbate anxiety. Once the alcohol wears off, you may feel much more worried. Anxiety caused by alcohol might continue for several hours or even a whole day following consumption.

 If you are physically addicted to alcohol, anxiety symptoms linked with withdrawal can last anywhere from 3 to 7 days, with the first 48 hours being the most difficult. Anxiety symptoms can continue longer than seven days in some persons.

In this article, we will reflect upon the anxiety caused by alcohol. We will see in detail why alcohol-induced anxiety is as well and how long this anxiety can last. Moreover, we will also discuss possible cures and solutions to stop anxiety caused by alcohol. 

Alcohol is a depressant that greatly alters the drinker’s mental state by directly affecting the central nervous system, particularly slowing down the nerve cells of the brain. Furthermore, alcohol impacts GABA, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain that performs an inhibitory function and reduces or completely blocks the activity of certain cells in the brain. Although this interaction of GABA and alcohol produces a calm state, it is only for a short while, after which the person begins to feel anxious. It has been proven that alcohol does, in fact, trigger panic attacks and anxiety attacks. It is a two-way street. Alcohol can trigger panic attacks and anxiety, and anxiety and panic attacks can trigger alcohol use.

Depression Vs Anxiety

What exactly is anxiety? Anxiety is characterized by feelings of fear and/or worry about something that will happen. In many cases, the symptoms can be physical such as an increase in heart rate, sweating, and shaking. There are different types of anxiety, ranging from social anxiety or phobia to a more severe General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). In either case, anxiety is highly serious and requires immediate attention. Panic attacks and alcohol go hand in hand, and one can lead to another.

When panic attacks occur, they can result in dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, trembling, pounding heartbeat, and myriad other serious symptoms. For this reason, it is important to tackle the source of the anxiety and steer clear of stimuli that instigate anxiety and panic attacks. One of the aggravators of anxiety attacks and panic attacks is alcohol, which we will now discuss in more detail.

On the one hand, alcohol can ease a person and their anxiousness. But on the other hand, it can also cause anxiousness and panic attacks. Panic attacks are bouts of extreme anxiety where one feels fear and fright. The person feels worried, and their mind feels detached from reality as they think they are in danger, even in the absence of any prominent danger. Long-term alcohol use can induce panic attacks. This is because, as mentioned in passing earlier, alcohol affects GABA.

GABA stands for gamma-Aminobutyric acid and is a primary neurotransmitter of the central nervous system of the body. It has an inhibitory function, and so it reduces the excitation of neurons (nerve cells). This inhibition is responsible for a relaxing effect on the body. Small amounts of alcohol can stimulate GABA and produce relaxation. But large doses of alcohol, especially for heavy drinkers, greatly interferes with GABA’s functioning and create feelings of panic. A study showed that 25 percent of people suffering from panic disorder had a history of alcohol use and abuse.

Furthermore, some symptoms of alcohol abuse overlap with those of a panic attack or panic disorder. These symptoms are physiological and include an elevated heart rate, dehydration, dizziness, and irritability. So for someone who already has anxiety, drinking alcohol can easily induce a panic attack by triggering these symptoms. Serotonin levels also shoot up and then crash down upon ingesting alcohol, just as GABA levels do. Chronic use of alcohol damages the normal levels of these neurotransmitters, and so the resulting withdrawals (including panic and anxiety) are more intense.

If alcohol consumption causes panic attacks regularly, it is a cause for concern and requires professional attention as it is a sign that the person has become addicted to alcohol. That said, occasional drinking does not cause panic attacks or anxiety attacks, but frequent use can produce them, and infrequent use can trigger already existing anxiety and panic disorders.

It is already known that alcohol can cause new-onset anxiety and panic attacks. Not only this, but alcohol also triggers existing anxiety and makes it worse. The reason behind this is because some people lean on alcohol to ease their anxiousness as alcohol is a sedative. It alters the chemicals in the brain and slows down nerve impulses. Alcohol depresses the inhibitory part of our brain. This makes us feel calm and at ease, but the feelings of relaxation are only short-term. Once the effects of alcohol fade away, the anxiousness that was previously suppressed comes back, and in some cases, causes even more anxiety than before. When individuals use alcohol to numb their anxiety regularly, they start becoming dependent on it, leading to an alcohol use disorder.  Alcohol and anxiety are highly distressing duos that impair one’s normal daily functioning.

Alcohol alters the concentrations of the neurotransmitters dopamine, GABA, serotonin, and adrenaline, creating a momentary euphoric feeling. When the initial alcohol glee subsides, anxiety, panic, and even depression result. Alcohol also upsets sleep patterns and hormones, which also create anxious emotions.

As the time since the alcohol was consumed increases, withdrawal symptoms start to surface. These can be psychological or physical. Anxiety is one of the psychological withdrawal effects. Those who are generally not anxious may ignore this, and it may not be an issue for them. However, for those who already suffer from anxiety, alcohol withdrawal makes matters far worse. Those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder might wake up in the middle of the night and feel uncontrollably stressed. People who have social anxiety may begin to rummage through their memory about what happened the last night, increasing their anxious state altogether.

Frequent alcohol use, to the point, that it becomes chronic disrupts the ability to respond to stress healthily and adaptively – leading to anxiety. Research has shown that alcohol affects an area of the brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for regulating emotions, including negative ones. So because the amygdala is not normally functioning in alcoholics, we can make a connection that alcohol and anxiety are interwoven, and it is a frighteningly vicious cycle.

Alcohol-induced anxiety is called Hangxiety, and the length of its effects depends on each individual and how their bodies respond to alcohol. Anxiety is also short for hangover anxiety, in which the individual feels a heightened sense of anxiety after ingesting alcohol. Anxiety from alcohol is the least reported symptom, and despite this, the percentage of people experiencing it is reported to be 22.6 percent.

Anxiety Attack vs Panic Attack

A study on mice showed that this Hangxiety could last 14 to 16 hours after the first hangover symptoms occurred, after which the mice’s blood alcohol content returned to baseline. Yet another study showed alcohol-induced anxiety lasted up to 24 hours in mice. So this hangover anxiety may not last that long, but this is not always the case. For individuals who are alcohol dependent, the anxiety can last 3 to 7 days! Some people may even experience anxiety longer than seven days. The hangover anxiety lasts as long as the body takes to return its chemicals to normal levels.

Serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain are affected by alcohol, which can exacerbate anxiety. As the alcohol wears off, you may feel much more nervous.

Anxiety caused by alcohol might linger for several hours or even a whole day following consumption. You’ve probably experienced the physical consequences of a hangover if you’ve ever had a long night of drinking. A pounding headache, nausea, tiredness and weakness, sensitivity to light, perspiration, and a strong need to drink water are all possible symptoms.

However, for many people, the effects of a hangover do not end there. Anxiety, or hangover anxiety, is an unpleasant companion to the headache and nausea.

Do you ever feel apprehensive or concerned after a night of drinking? Do you obsessively replay everything you said and did the night before, fearful of embarrassing yourself or offending someone? That’s what hangxiety is. This begs the question; what can be done to treat anxiety (and more importantly, hangxiety). 

Anxiety can be treated in a variety of ways;

The sort of anxiety you have may influence the treatment you receive. If you experience social anxiety or phobia, counseling may be the most effective way to lessen your worry (combined with a medication such as sertraline or Zoloft). If you have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is characterized by an inexplicable feeling of worry or stress, your doctor may suggest learning behaviors or skills help you stop avoiding activities due to anxiety (cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT) or talking to a therapist about your anxiety.

Medications may be prescribed by your doctor. As for Antidepressants, a doctor may prescribe Duloxetine (Cymbalta),  escitalopram (Lexapro), or paroxetine (Paxil). When talking about benzodiazepines, he/she may prescribe alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium), and Lorazepam (Ativan). 

Each form of anxiety medicine works differently. Antidepressants can be used daily to aid with anxiety, but benzodiazepines are often used for short-term relief from uncontrolled anxiety. Consult your doctor to determine which medicine is right for you.

Alcohol may interact with several of these medicines. Before taking any of these drugs, talk to your doctor about your alcohol intake since side effects can be dangerous or fatal.

Alcohol anxiety is treatable but not necessarily cured. You may, however, adopt lifestyle adjustments to help you manage your anxiety and minimize it.

You can lessen your alcohol anxiety by making some simple everyday adjustments.

  • Reduce your anxiety levels.
  • Sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours every night, depending on your age.
  • Caffeine and alcohol can both make you feel more anxious, so limit your intake of both.
  • Every day, eat the same nutritious meals.
  • Every day, set aside time to focus on relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.
  • Make time each day for a calming activity such as listening to music or painting.

You may also learn to manage alcohol anxiety by slowing it down and avoiding it from becoming overwhelming and resulting in panic attacks:

  • When you start to feel worried, take a few deep breaths in and out slowly.
  • When your ideas become too negative or overwhelming, think happy thoughts.
  • Slowly count from 1 to 10 or higher until you no longer feel anxious.
  • Until your nervousness starts to diminish, focus on anything that makes you laugh or makes you feel good.

If you suffer from severe anxiety, here are some suggestions for calming anxiety at night or easing anxiety the next day after drinking.

  • Taking care of your hangover’s physical symptoms might also help you feel better mentally.
  • Drink plenty of water, sleep, eat a light meal, and take a pain reliever like ibuprofen to help you recover from a hangover.
  • Meditation and deep breathing are two relaxing strategies to try.
  • Relax your body and mind, paying attention to and accepting your ideas without judgment. Listen to soothing music or engage in a relaxing hobby such as writing, reading, drawing, or taking a stroll if you feel up to it.

Some of the best alcohol-free nighttime relaxing routines are inclusive of the following: (You may pick and choose what looks feasible or complete the entire list for the ideal evening relaxation routine!)

1. Turn off all displays.

Let’s start with the most difficult one;

It is strongly advised to set aside time in the evening to turn off any electronic devices with screens. This is something. We must attempt to do! This includes any beeping, vibrating, or buzzing associated with the device in question. It is recommended to avoid the display for a full hour before bedtime, with three hours being optimal. 

2. Turn on a diffuser.

Lavender, vanilla, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, bergamot, and chamomile are all famous for their calming and relaxing properties. You may also rub a few drops of these essential oils on your wrists to carry the smell with you.

3. Unwind with a good nightcap.

Turmeric, ginger, cloves, and honey provide natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties to this warming golden milk that my entire family enjoys! Almond or coconut milk can be used to make it dairy-free. This not only soothes your stomach but also boosts your immune system.

4. Don’t forget to take a deep breath.

Although it may appear to be easy, most of us are unaware of this potent and constantly available stress-relieving technique. Instead, the vast majority of individuals I encounter take short breaths. It improves blood circulation and better distributes nutrients and chemicals to all of the many essential regions of your body and brain when you take slow and complete inhalations and exhalations, resulting in overall balance. Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breath method is one of my favorites. I like to perform this while sat in a chair or on the floor. Simply inhale for four counts, hold for seven counts, and then exhale for eight counts. Repeat this cycle three or four times.

5. Write down your gratitude.

An appreciation list always lifts my mood up a notch or two. Even if you’ve had a bad day, I’m sure you can find at least ten things to be grateful for every day—a functional refrigerator, a nice blanket, someone’s smile, those deep breaths you just finished taking, your pulse. Gratitude goes a long way toward a good, less-anxious state of mind, and we don’t need research to tell us that!

You’ve had a hard day, and you’re exhausted from your job, kids, your partner, and life, and you can’t wait to go home, pour yourself a glass of red wine, and kick your feet up. Thankfully, all of the most recent information regarding red wine emphasizes its antioxidants and possible memory-protecting and anti-aging effects. And what could be more soothing than a lovely glass of jewel-toned delicacy?

Related: How Does Depression Effects the Brain?

Sorry to break the news to you, but wine may aggravate tension and anxiety, as well as impair sleep, especially if you’re already a bit frazzled. And, honestly, if you’ve ever had anxiety, you know how terrible it can be—and how prevalent it is. Anxiety disorders affect about 30% of people at some point in their lives. Furthermore, it affects roughly twice as many women as it does males.

This begs the question; how does wine even cause/affect anxiety?

It has the potential to upset your body’s chemistry.

Any type of alcohol, i.e., wine, alters serotonin, other neurotransmitters, and hormone levels in the brain and body, which can exacerbate anxiety. While a single glass of wine may seem soothing, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can create a rebound effect after it wears off, which can persist for many hours or even a whole day.

It can cause nighttime sweats and hot flashes.

When your body is thrown off-kilter, it works hard to restore equilibrium. If you’re perimenopausal or menopausal, your body may struggle to achieve equilibrium. When you drink a glass of wine, your body interprets it as sugar, causing an increase in insulin to deal with the rise in blood sugar, which affects other hormones like estrogen and progesterone. This implies that your body may strive too hard to achieve homeostasis and overcompensate, resulting in hot flashes and nocturnal sweats.

It has the potential to disturb sleep.

When your body is out of its natural homeostatic condition, it is unable to rest. So, although you may believe that a glass of wine helps you fall off to sleep effortlessly—and this may be true—also it’s true that the reason you wake up a few hours later is that the sedative effects wear off, leaving you with the aftereffects of a body trying to rebalance itself. Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in anxiety, creating a vicious cycle.

It’s a precarious situation.

Even if you’ve never had an alcohol problem, you may have addictive traits (as do the majority of us) that drive you to overindulge in other areas of your life. Consider sweet and/or salty foods, outlet or online shopping, binge-watching Netflix or other recorded shows, and all the other addictions that our 24/7 lifestyles provide. Also, keep in mind that anxiety and alcoholism appear to go hand in hand; if you have one, you’re more likely to get into difficulty with the other.

How does one prevent ‘hangxiety’?

Although anxiety may be managed to some extent, it is preferable to avoid it altogether and once and for all. The following are the steps one can take to manage Alcohol Anxiety and, ultimately, cure it if at all possible; 

Eating before drinking and having a glass of water after each alcoholic beverage is simple ways to avoid anxiety in the first place. Dehydration has often been linked to anxiety and other mood disturbances, so staying hydrated can help you avoid both a hangover and hangxiety.

It’s also beneficial to consume less alcohol. The worse your hangover (and any hangxiety) will be, the more you drink. Before you start drinking, try pacing yourself and setting a limit for the evening. Instead of going out with people who will drink to excess, go out with friends who want to restrict their drinking. Instead of going out with people who will drink excessively, go out with friends who want to restrict their drinking. You’ll be able to hold each other responsible while still having a good time.

If one follows these steps, one can successfully avoid Alcohol Anxiety, and continuous practice of the methods and practices stated above can cure the anxiety altogether. Remember, perseverance, consistency, and persistence are the key!

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