Many people don’t know that hangovers after drinking alcohol may have physical and psychological anxiety symptoms. This disorder is known as hangover anxiety or hangxiety.
What Is Hangxiety?
Hangxiety’ or ‘hangover anxiety’ is a mental health condition when the person experiences a few negative physical hangover symptoms. It is post-drinking anxiety, usually visible in the morning after a night of alcohol consumption.
Alcohol hangover symptoms are very disturbing. It may include severe fatigue, headaches, dizziness, tastelessness, and nausea.
Hangxiety is the physical symptom recovery for the body and brain after drinking alcohol. The body recovers itself from the physical hangover symptoms. The brain acts to recover from the hangover and feels a sense of anxiety.
Many patients consider alcohol hangover symptoms as anxiety symptoms. As per a survey, approximately 22% Trusted Source individuals under 30 believe “hangxiety” is one of the alcohol hangover symptoms.
There is one solution to cope with this alcohol use disorder. You need to become mindful of alcohol consumption and its after-effects. You need to know what causes hangxiety, its symptoms, and how to get over the unpleasant feeling.
What Causes Hangxiety?
When you drink alcohol, the brain produces high levels of dopamine and endorphins. These two hormones make you feel good, but they give you a temporary rush of happiness in the mind. When the effect goes down, feelings of hangover anxiety reduce the feeling of euphoria.
Drinking alcohol also reduces your brain functionality. As a result, the next morning, you may experience exhaustion and mood swings. Your brain also secretes Cortisol (the stress hormone) when you drink alcohol and trigger anxiety.
There are some physiological causes of hangxiety which are triggered by 3 factors:
- Increased levels of the cortisol hormone
- Decreased the amount of GABA receptors in the brain
- Increased heartbeat per second.
There are also a few factors that boost the chances of developing hangxiety:
Alcohol detoxIt triggers restlessness, anxiety, and nervousness.
Poor nutrition or Dehydration
Both reasons can disrupt cognitive and physical functioning. Dehydration and lack of other vital nutrients may trigger anxiety and increase the intensity of hangover anxiety.
A low level of sleep or insomnia makes your body quickly exhausted. You may experience muscle aches, pounding headaches, and other negative effects on your physical health. With a tired body, your mind will also face a higher intensity of anxiety.
Social anxiety and stress
A person may often start having an alcoholic drink to reduce social anxiety and stress. This way he/she might grow drinking habits in social gatherings. Whenever they start feeling anxious, they start drinking alcohol. It gives them temporary relief. But, after a few hours, the person experiences physical hangover symptoms that boost the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Hangover Anxiety Usual Physical Symptoms
Here is a list of symptoms that can be visible in a patient suffering from hangxiety or hangover anxiety. Commonly, post-drinking anxiety is quite identical with the usual physical symptoms of anxiety.
The physical symptoms include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Pounding heartbeat
- chest pain
- Severe body aches
- upset stomach
- Unusual sweating
The psychological symptoms include:
- Feeling restless
- Uncontrollable feelings of worry
- Thought rumination
These and other hangover symptoms of anxiety may be visible approximately 6 hours to 20 hours after a person stops drinking alcohol.
How To Deal With Hangover Related Anxiety
Practically, there’s no fixed option to cure hangxiety. However, the best option to get rid of this disorder is to stop drinking habits and choose alcohol-free drinking alternatives.
Adam Horvath, Psychologist, Personal Psychology believes – “Identifying the motivations behind drinking, especially as a coping mechanism for anxiety, and proactively limiting alcohol consumption during the night (e.g., avoiding free-pouring) can be effective. Additionally, incorporating dry months into one’s routine helps break the habit and foster healthier drinking patterns“.
Hangover anxiety or hangxiety can be manageable like other variants of anxiety. There are several ways to do it:
Limit your drinking
As per the most recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking in moderation denotes:
- Not more than 1 drink a day (Women)
- Not more than 2 drinks a day (Men)
You may need to follow a few rules if you want to drink and also control hangxiety:
- Caffeine intake through coffee or tea might give you stimulant effects and may boost your feelings of anxiety.
- You must also avoid smoking, recreational drugs, and drinking more booze frequently.
- Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Get something to eat before drinking.
- Drink enough water to stay hydrated even if you’re drinking alcohol.
- Set a limit and maintain it no matter what happens. Avoid taking more than two standard drinks at a time.
Follow relaxation techniques
Hangover anxiety is a mental disorder. So, you must practice some relaxation techniques that might help you. Popular techniques include:
- Deep breathing
- Physical exercises like walking, yoga, swimming, etc
- Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)
- Guided imagery
- Reading books
- Writing whatever comes into your mind
- Listening to soft music
- Having a cold shower
Drink lots of water throughout the day. You may also consume nutrient-enhancing drinks. When you’re dehydrated, the body might take a long time to recover from a hangover. Make sure to drink frequently to speed up the process.
Use over-the-counter pain medication
It will provide help with physical symptoms. It will not fix your anxious feelings but rather lower your physical pain. As a result, your brain will get some relief, you’ll be able to get some sleep, and you’ll have time to regain energy. If you are having a severe headache, consume a cup of cocoa with honey. It will reduce inflammation and headache.
Patients having hangxiety may practice meditation and slow-breathing exercises. The idea is to calm your body and mind, so don’t do anything that can excite you, and avoid overthinking about your drinking habits.
Bayu Prihandito, Certified Psychology Expert, Life Coach, and Founder of Life Architekture, added – “One effective method to alleviate hangxiety is practicing mindfulness and deep-breathing exercises. In practice, taking a few minutes to focus on slow, deep breaths can significantly lessen the feelings of overwhelm and stress.”
Maintain a healthy diet
Hangxiety might cause nausea, and you may lose your appetite. So, you can consume items such as dry toast, soda crackers, nuts, bananas, blueberries, oranges, watermelon, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocado, broth, veg soup, honey, etc. These items can enrich your taste buds and settle your stomach. Eating a light meal before drinking may slow down alcohol absorption in your empty stomach.
Connect with friends
Most of the time, people drink alcohol when they are alone. So, if you spend more of your time with friends and family, you may lower your drinking habits. If you are facing hangover anxiety, you may discuss your problems with friends and family.
Seek professional help
If you have feelings of anxiety in your daily life and are not able to do your normal work properly, you may consult a mental health expert. A mental health professional can help you to diagnose anxious thoughts, withdrawal symptoms, and how to prevent hangxiety. People who want to stop drinking more alcohol but are having a hard time may also get professional help. Check out these 24-hour free hotlines for confidential support:
- American Addiction Centers hotline: 888-969-0517
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline: 800-662-HELP (4357)