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Feeling Anxious The Day After a Drinking Sesh? This May Explain Why

Have you ever felt anxious after a night of heavy drinking? You wake up to a general feeling of dread or worry that consumes you. You may also have sweaty palms, a racing mind, and the occasional stomachache, making you think if it’s because you’re trying to recall if you did something embarrassing the night before. After tons of fun with shots of tequila or pints of beer, “hangxiety” may consume you the next day.

Hangover anxiety, or more popular as “hangxiety”, has become more common nowadays that Reddit actually has several threads about the term. For some luckier people, it will only last for a bit and is due to the feeling of letting your wall down while riding the alcohol buzz.

However, others may have overwhelming symptoms. Hangxiety actually has physiological and psychological explanations. Since alcohol can affect the different neurotransmitter systems in your brain, this may also disrupt its functions and may bring about several repercussions on your body.

After a fun night of heavy drinking, a general feeling of anxiousness could take over the day after

Physiological Factors

Hangxiety is considered as a common hangover symptom, although not everyone will go through it. According to Dr. Michael Bogenschutz of NYU Grossman School of Medicine, hangover anxiety is a symptom that occurs after heavy drinking and maybe a much milder version of more serious clinical alcohol withdrawal.

You may feel nauseous, irritable, and anxious coupled with a queasy stomach. These effects are worse for heavy drinkers who abruptly stopped consuming alcohol and may include vomiting, diarrhea, and panic attack. Hanxiety can also be considered as a withdrawal symptom that isn’t serious enough to require a diagnosis. Think of it as a mini alcohol withdrawal that can include anxiety.

Hangxiety may be worse for those prone to anxiety and those who abruptly stopped their heavy-drinking habit

One of the things that draw people to drinking alcohol is the feel-good buzz they get after a few drinks. Some even use it to wind themselves down. Alcohol does stimulate dopamine, aka the feel-good neurotransmitter, hence the impact on your mood. However, experts say that it will only last for a short time. This can be the reason why mood and anxiety levels are affected. Aside from interrupting neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins, alcohol can also increase the activities of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) pathway of your brain. GABA is responsible for motor control, memory and anxiety.

According to Dr. Bogenschutz, alcohol is a sedative. It stimulates the inhibitory system while slowing down the stimulatory system; hence the relaxed and delighted feeling. However, for those who drink heavily more often, the brain may try to adapt to the effects by downregulating the inhibitory while upregulating the stimulatory system. When you suddenly stop, you’re brain already has adapted to the sedative effects of alcohol. Therefore, most would become jittery, irritable, and anxious. Hence, hangxiety.

That feel-good feeling only lasts for a short time

How to Deal with Hangxiety

If this is brought on by alcohol withdrawal after you stopped your heavy drinking habit, then you should probably consult a medical professional. Even when you don’t have alcohol use disorder, it is still possible to get hangxiety. This maybe your body’s way of processing the alcohol you put in your system.

It is important to ground yourself through deep breathing, mindful meditation, and exercise. These could help calm you down and reduce the symptoms.

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