Home Health & Wellness How ‘Hangxiety’ Can Impact Your Mood?

How ‘Hangxiety’ Can Impact Your Mood?

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Anxiety after a night of heavy drinking has been widely dubbed as ‘hangxiety’ or ‘beer fear.’ However, what is it, and what impact does it have on your health? 

For many people, alcoholic beverages are essential to easing social anxiety, as alcohol depresses the body’s central nervous system, causing a short-lived feeling of relaxation. 

As well as the typical adverse side effects of a hangover, including nausea, headaches, and puffy eyes, alcohol can leave people feeling anxious the following day. 

Addiction therapist Phil Jackman at Private Rehab Clinic, Delamere, has provided an in-depth look at why alcohol can cause rising anxiety. She has also delved into the short-term and long-term impact on an individual’s mental well-being. 

‘Alcohol is commonly consumed in social situations and is often used to help people reduce feelings of anxiety, relax, and ‘loosen up’.’

Delamere research has shown that 20% of women use alcohol to boost their confidence in a social setting, and 56% of Brits say that relaxation is the most common reason for consuming alcohol. 

‘When the alcohol starts to leave the system, negative feelings and anxiety begin to creep in, and this is often felt more severely the day after a night of excessive drinking. Typical symptoms that an individual will experience from alcohol-induced anxiety may include intense worry, shortness of breath or panic attacks, nervousness and feeling jittery.’

‘If a person has an anxiety disorder, alcohol can intensify these symptoms, but can also cause anxiety in people who do not typically experience it daily.’

Why can alcohol make you feel anxious?

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause a person to experience short-term memory loss. This is because alcohol slows down the communication between nerves in the part of the brain that affects memory.

As a result, alcohol-related blackouts and memory loss can be significant sources of anxiety for people the day after drinking alcohol.

Aside from feeling anxious over what you may have said or done the night before while drunk, there are also other biological elements to why alcohol can leave you with hangover anxiety.

After consuming alcohol, the body needs to metabolise it through the liver to remove the toxins from the body. The detoxification process causes the body to feel mild withdrawal symptoms as it processes the alcohol from the system. These withdrawal symptoms take the form of feelings of anxiousness, worry and feeling restless.

For people who regularly experience anxiety and use alcohol as a coping mechanism, this can lead to a vicious cycle of drinking to reduce feelings of hangover anxiety. This can potentially lead to an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and result in an individual functioning in daily life.

Alcohol’s impact on sleep quality can also be a trigger for anxiety. When alcohol is consumed, it depresses the body’s central nervous system, which causes feelings of relaxation. However, pushing the main jumpy system disrupts the body’s sleep pattern, leading to less time spent in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. 

This then means that sleep is often disturbed after consuming alcohol. In addition, studies have found that sleep deprivation can trigger feelings of anxiety the next day.

How to reduce feelings of alcohol-related anxiety?

Firstly, if you suspect that alcohol is causing anxiety, tracking or mapping these feelings is worthwhile to assess whether there is a pattern with the time alcohol is consumed. If you recognise consistency and alcohol triggers these negative feelings, the first evident approach would be to reduce how much alcohol you are drinking or cut it out completely.

The NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol spread across three days or more. However, if you are drinking in excess and experiencing increased anxiety, reduce your alcohol intake within the recommended limit and map the differences in your mood and behaviour

How can you stop drinking alcohol safely? 

If you have found that your alcohol consumption has increased and you would like to reduce intake, it’s essential to seek tailored advice from a medical professional. The team at Delamere have provided five tips for someone trying to cut back on heavy drinking. 

Reduce consumption day by day 

It’s important to reduce alcohol consumption safely. It is safer to gradually detoxify from alcohol rather than quit all at once because withdrawals can be fatal. 

Try limiting yourself to drinking no more alcohol than required when weaning off. Drink enough to qualify your withdrawal symptoms and gradually reduce daily consumption. 

Increase the amount of time per drink 

Try extending the period between your next drink. To reduce the amount of alcohol you consume daily more safely and sustainably, set a specific period before starting your next drink. 

Some people find it easier to drink soft drinks or water in between. This gives you something to do while you wait for your next drink and hydrates you. 

When cutting down consumption slowly, you will find it easier to stop drinking altogether when ready. You can gradually increase the time limit between each drinking period. 

Keep a drinking diary

Keep track of every time you consume an alcoholic drink. Record how often you drink each day, how much alcohol you consume and where you are when you finish it. From this, you can visualise and monitor how much alcohol you consume daily week and month. 

Compare this to your end goal. If you’re having trouble reaching your target, seek support from a professional and try to change your habits and ways of reducing consumption. 

Keep the mind and body busy

Try changing your social habits by taking up a new hobby or project to work on or visiting friends and family in an environment that doesn’t involve drinking. Walking, painting, physical exercise, and even going to the cinema or out for an alcohol-free meal are all great alternatives to drinking.

Ask for support

Cutting down your alcohol consumption is not always easy. Seek advice from your friends, family and medical professionals. Addiction specialists can provide a tailored treatment plan to support your journey to sobriety. 

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