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Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Hangover depression is a common phenomenon in occasional as well as regular alcoholics. According to statistics, approximately 23% of adults in the United States have reported experiencing hangover-related mood disturbances at some point [1].

While hangover depression is usually temporary, it’s essential to recognize its impact on mental well-being and consider preventative measures and coping strategies to mitigate its effects.

This emotional low can be particularly challenging to overcome, especially when it accompanies alcoholism and associated mental health issues. In such cases, seeking specialized care at our luxury treatment center for alcoholism and mental health can provide a more comprehensive and comfortable approach to recovery, addressing both the addiction and the underlying emotional struggles effectively.

Hangover depression is the emotional low that many individuals experience after a night of heavy drinking. It’s that feeling of being inexplicably sad, anxious, and overwhelmed by negativity the day after consuming alcohol.

While hangovers typically manifest with physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, and fatigue, hangover depression focuses on the emotional toll.

How Alcohol Affects Brain Chemistry

To understand hangover depression, it’s crucial to grasp how alcohol affects our brain chemistry. Alcohol impacts neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in our brain responsible for communication between nerve cells. The main neurotransmitters involved in hangover depression are:

Dopamine: Alcohol initially boosts dopamine levels, leading to feelings of pleasure and euphoria while drinking. However, the next day, dopamine levels can plummet, contributing to feelings of depression.

Serotonin: Alcohol can disrupt serotonin production and reuptake, which plays a significant role in regulating mood. Lower serotonin levels are associated with feelings of sadness and anxiety.

Glutamate: Alcohol inhibits glutamate, another neurotransmitter responsible for alertness and excitability. When glutamate is suppressed, your brain becomes less active, leading to the sluggishness and drowsiness often associated with alcohol consumption.

GABA: Alcohol enhances the activity of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This can lead to slowed brain function, impaired coordination, and mood disturbances.

These changes in brain chemistry can result in the depressive symptoms experienced during a hangover [2].

Common Mental Health Issues Associated with Alcohol

Alcohol and mental health are closely linked, and excessive alcohol consumption can exacerbate or contribute to various mental health issues, including:

Depression: Hangover depression is just one aspect of alcohol’s impact on mental health. Chronic alcohol use can lead to clinical depression.

Anxiety: Alcohol can temporarily reduce anxiety symptoms, but its effects are short-lived. Over time, it can worsen anxiety disorders.

Bipolar Disorder: Alcohol can trigger manic episodes in individuals with bipolar disorder and intensify depressive episodes.

PTSD: Alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism for trauma, but it can exacerbate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Suicidal Thoughts: Alcohol abuse is a significant risk factor for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Prevalence of Depression in Frequent Drinkers

The relationship between alcohol and depression is complex, but it’s essential to recognize that depression is relatively common among frequent drinkers. Some key points to consider:

  • Frequent alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing depression over time, as it disrupts the brain’s delicate chemical balance [1].
  • People who already have a history of depression or other mental health issues may be more susceptible to hangover depression.
  • Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use can lead to more severe hangover symptoms, including depression [2].
  • It’s important to note that while alcohol can contribute to depression, it’s not the sole cause. Many factors, including genetics and life circumstances, play a role in the development of depression.

Many of us have experienced it: the inexplicable sense of sadness and despair that can follow a night of drinking. This phenomenon raises the question: does alcohol cause depression the next day? The short answer is yes.

To better understand the subject, let’s uncover the various mechanisms involved in post-alcohol depression to shed light on why it happens.

Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance

Dehydration is a common side effect of alcohol consumption due to its diuretic effect, which leads to increased urination. Dehydration can cause physical discomfort, such as headaches and fatigue, but it also has a significant impact on your mental well-being.

Dehydration can lead to irritability, mood swings, and feelings of fatigue and lethargy, which can contribute to a sense of depression.

Disrupted Sleep Patterns

Alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns, making it difficult to get a restorative night’s sleep. Poor sleep quality can have a direct impact on your mood.

Sleep deprivation can lead to increased irritability, anxiety, and feelings of sadness, which can exacerbate post-alcohol depression [2].

Impact on Preexisting Mental Health Conditions

If you already have a history of depression or other mental health conditions, alcohol can amplify these issues.

Alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, making you more vulnerable to post-alcohol depression.

Alcohol’s Role as a Depressant

Alcohol is classified as a depressant because it slows down brain activity. While this can initially lead to feelings of relaxation and lowered inhibitions, it can also contribute to depressive symptoms.

The depressive effect of alcohol can linger into the next day, contributing to feelings of sadness and emotional distress.

Feeling depressed after drinking can affect anyone who consumes alcohol, but certain demographics may be more prone to experiencing it. 

Let’s discover who these vulnerable groups are and why they might be at a higher risk.

Younger Age Groups

Young adults, particularly those in their late teens and early twenties, are more likely to experience hangover depression. This is because younger individuals often engage in binge drinking or excessive alcohol consumption, which can lead to more severe hangovers and emotional distress the next day.


Research suggests that women may be more vulnerable to hangover depression than men due to differences in how their bodies metabolize alcohol. Women generally have a higher percentage of body fat, which can lead to slower alcohol metabolism and prolonged exposure to its depressive effects [1].

Individuals with a Family History of Alcoholism

People with a family history of alcoholism may be genetically predisposed to alcohol-related mental health issues. This group is at a higher risk because genetic factors can influence an individual’s response to alcohol, making them more prone to hangover depression if they have a family history of alcoholism.

Heavy Drinkers

It may seem obvious, but heavy drinkers are more likely to experience hangover depression compared to occasional or moderate drinkers. Higher alcohol consumption leads to more significant fluctuations in neurotransmitter levels, increasing the likelihood of emotional highs and lows.

Those with a Low Tolerance for Alcohol

Individuals with a low tolerance for alcohol, whether due to their size, weight, or genetics, can experience hangover depression more intensely and quickly. Even a relatively small amount of alcohol can disrupt neurotransmitter balance and contribute to depressive symptoms in those with a low tolerance.

Individuals with Preexisting Mental Health Conditions

People who already struggle with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety are more susceptible to hangover depression. Alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of preexisting mental health conditions, making the emotional lows more pronounced [1].

People on Certain Medications

Some medications interact negatively with alcohol, potentially increasing the risk of hangover depression. These medications include Antidepressants, which can interact with alcohol and intensify depressive symptoms [2].

Hangover depression can make you feel like you’re in a funk, but the good news is that it’s usually temporary. 

Let’s break down the timeline for the onset and duration of effects, and when to seek professional help if things take a turn for the worse.

Onset of Symptoms

Hangover depression typically sets in within a few hours of waking up after a night of drinking. Here’s a general timeline of how it unfolds:

Immediate Symptoms: You might wake up feeling physically awful with a headache, nausea, and fatigue. However, the emotional low may not be fully apparent at this stage [3].

A Few Hours Later: As the day progresses, you may start experiencing mood swings, irritability, sadness, and anxiety. This is when hangover depression becomes more noticeable [1].

Duration of Effects

The good news is that hangover depression doesn’t last as long as clinical depression. Here’s a rough estimate of how long it typically lingers:

Short-Term: Most hangover depression symptoms start to improve within 24 hours after waking up with a hangover [3].

Full Recovery: In most cases, you should be back to your usual self within 48 hours, although it can vary from person to person.

Persistent Symptoms: If hangover depression symptoms persist beyond 48 hours or worsen, it may be a sign of a more serious issue and should prompt you to seek professional help [2].

Signs of Severe Complications

While hangover depression is usually short-lived and manageable, there are instances where it can be more severe and may require professional intervention. Keep an eye out for these signs:

Persistent Symptoms: If your hangover depression symptoms don’t improve or worsen significantly after 48 hours, it may indicate a more complex issue.

Increased Suicidal Thoughts: If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, seek immediate help. These are severe signs that should not be ignored.

Substance Abuse: If you find that you’re using alcohol as a way to cope with hangover depression or if you’re consistently experiencing hangover depression, it may be a sign of an underlying substance abuse problem that needs professional treatment [2].

Hangover depression can put a real damper on your day after a night of drinking. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent it altogether. 

Let’s discuss some practical tips and precautions to keep those post-alcohol blues at bay.

Moderation is Key

The best way to prevent hangover depression is to drink in moderation. Limiting your alcohol intake can significantly reduce your risk of experiencing emotional lows the next day. Here’s how to do it:

  • Set a reasonable limit for yourself before you start drinking and stick to it.
  • Opt for lower-alcohol beverages or lighter cocktails.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones, like water or soda, to pace yourself [1].

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is a significant contributor to hangover symptoms, including depression. To stay properly hydrated:

  • Drink water between alcoholic beverages.
  • Have a glass of water before bed and another when you wake up.
  • Choose hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables during and after drinking.

Eat Before Drinking

Having a meal before drinking can slow down alcohol absorption, which can help prevent hangovers and the accompanying emotional lows. Here’s how to do it right:

  • Opt for a balanced meal with protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.
  • Include foods that contain antioxidants and vitamins, like fruits and vegetables [3].

Know Your Limits

Understanding your tolerance for alcohol is crucial in preventing hangover depression. Take these steps to know your limits:

  • Pay attention to how alcohol affects you personally.
  • Be mindful of how much you’ve had to drink and how it’s making you feel.
  • Don’t feel pressured to keep up with others; drink at your own pace.

Avoid Mixing Substances

Mixing alcohol with other substances, including medications and recreational drugs, can increase the risk of hangover depression. To prevent this:

  • Consult with a healthcare professional about how alcohol may interact with any medications you’re taking.
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with recreational drugs, as this can amplify the depressive effects [2].

Get Enough Sleep

A good night’s sleep can go a long way in preventing hangover depression. Try these sleep-related tips:

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol too close to bedtime, as it can disrupt your sleep cycle.
  • Create a calming bedtime routine to ensure restful sleep [3].

Choose Your Beverages Wisely

Some types of alcohol are more likely to lead to hangover depression than others. Here are some considerations:

  • Clear liquors like vodka and gin tend to cause fewer hangover symptoms than darker options like whiskey and red wine.
  • Pay attention to the alcohol content, as higher-proof drinks can be more intense [2].

Have a Support System

If you’re prone to hangover depression or excessive drinking, having a support system can be invaluable. Consider these steps:

  • Let your friends know about your limits and intentions.
  • Have a designated driver or plan for alternative transportation if you’ve been drinking.
  • Reach out to friends or a counselor if you’re struggling with alcohol-related mental health issues.

Waking up with a hangover and feeling emotionally low can be a tough experience. But fear not, there are ways to deal with hangover depression and get back to feeling better. 

Here we will explore some effective methods and medical treatments to help you cope with post-alcohol blues.

Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin can help alleviate some of the physical discomfort associated with hangovers, which can indirectly improve your mood 3.

Fresh Air and Light Exercise

A little fresh air and light exercise can work wonders for your mental state. Go for a gentle walk or do some stretching exercises to release endorphins, which can boost your mood.

Talk About It

Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Reach out to friends or family members and share how you’re feeling. They can offer support, understanding, and maybe even some helpful advice to cope with hangover depression.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Practicing mindfulness and relaxation exercises can help ease anxiety and depressive symptoms. Try deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga to calm your mind and reduce stress [2].

Professional Help

If your hangover depression persists or is severe, seeking help from a mental health professional is a valid option. They can provide you with strategies and treatments tailored to your specific needs.

Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help you address the underlying causes of hangover depression.

Medications may be prescribed in severe cases, especially if you have a history of depression or anxiety [2].

Luxury treatment centers offer a high-end, personalized approach to addressing alcohol and associated mental health issues. 

Here’s a glimpse into what makes them an effective and superior option compared to traditional treatment centers.

Exclusive Environment: Luxury treatment centers provide a serene and exclusive environment in beautiful settings, often amidst nature or in upscale facilities, offering tranquility and privacy.

Personalized Care: Tailored treatment plans address your unique condition, including the co-occurrence of anxiety and depression days after binge drinking.

Expert Staff: Luxury centers employ experienced and highly qualified staff, including psychiatrists, therapists, and medical professionals, who provide top-notch care and support.

Holistic Approach: These centers often embrace a holistic approach, addressing not only addiction but also mental health, physical well-being, and overall life balance.

Comfortable Accommodations: Patients enjoy luxurious amenities, including spacious rooms, gourmet dining, and recreational activities, enhancing their comfort during treatment.

Innovative Therapies: Luxury treatment centers offer a wide range of therapeutic modalities, such as equine therapy, art therapy, and mindfulness practices, to promote healing and self-discovery.

Discreet and Confidential: These centers prioritize discretion, ensuring that patient’s privacy is protected throughout their stay.

Focus on Wellness: Wellness programs, including fitness and nutrition guidance, help patients regain physical health and build resilience.

Low Patient-to-Staff Ratio: Smaller patient-to-staff ratios enable more one-on-one interaction, fostering deeper connections and progress in recovery.

Aftercare Support: Luxury centers often provide comprehensive aftercare plans, ensuring ongoing support and relapse prevention.

Why Choose Our Luxury Treatment Center

  • We offer an upscale, luxurious, and highly comfortable environment, reducing stress during the recovery process.
  • Our personalized care plans address each patient’s unique needs, increasing the likelihood of successful recovery.
  • The highly qualified staff members provide expert guidance and support.
  • Our holistic approaches tackle addiction and mental health issues from multiple angles.
  • Discretion and privacy are paramount, creating a safe space for healing.
  • Our innovative therapies and wellness programs enhance the recovery experience.
  • Our smaller patient-to-staff ratios allow for more individualized attention.
  • We offer comprehensive aftercare to ensure ongoing support post-treatment.



The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


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