Why Alcohol Causes Anxiety

There are basically 6 reasons why alcohol consumption and hangovers make many people anxious and I’m going tell you what they are. I want to share this with you so that you can be more informed and avoid becoming alcohol’s punching bag.

Ever since I became sick with nervous illness I’ve heard a lot of people say that anxiety sufferers should not drink alcohol because it makes you more nervous than you already are.

I’ve always found this to be ironic because there are so many anxiety sufferers that drink alcohol to cope with their anxiety, but true it is.

Now, the fact that alcohol can cause anxiety is just that, a fact. It is a scientifically based understanding, so this is not simple conjecture on my part.

Will alcohol affect all people this way? Probably not, but as an anxiety sufferer you should be aware of the possible pitfalls of alcohol consumption, so pay close attention.

Scientists believe that alcohol causes or at least increases anxiety in  6 basic ways and here they are.

1. Mood

Alcohol can affect our mood because it can affect the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a feel good brain chemical that when in short supply can cause feelings of anxiety and depression.

2. Drop in blood sugar

A drop in blood sugar can cause dizziness, confusion, weakness, nervousness, shaking and numbness. These symptoms can most certainly trigger a bout of anxiety.

3. Dehydration

This has been known to cause nausea, dizziness, fatigue, light-headedness and muscle weakness. These symptoms wouldn’t cause anxiety per say but they add to a sense of illness which fosters anxiety.

4. Nervous System

The nervous system is affected because in order for the body to fight off the sedative effects of alcohol it puts the body into a state of hyperactivity in order to counteract this effect. This hyperactivity can lead to shaking, light/sound sensitivity and sleep deprivation.

5. Heart Rate

Your heart rate can become elevated as a result of consuming alcohol which can cause a palpitation false alarm and put you into a state of anxious anticipation. Is it a heart attack or isn’t it you might ask. This “what if” questioning can increase your general state of anxiety.

6. Concentration

A hard night of drinking can also make you hazy, bring on headaches and create a sense of disorientation.

So if you’re going to have a glass of wine with dinner I don’t think you should be concerned. On the other hand, if you’re a heavy drinker, or binge drinker, then this might cause a real problem for you.

According to The Times Online, scientists don’t know exactly why all this happens but they do suggest that you eat before drinking, drink water in between drinks, and stay in bed if you are hung over to avoid all the problems I outlined above.

Some would say that maybe you shouldn’t drink at all if you have an anxiety disorder – that’s debatable. Do you think that alcohol should be avoided at all cost when someone has an anxiety disorder?

I don’t think that alcohol should be avoided if drinking is part of your social repertoire, however, I also know that moderation and good sense should be your guide.

In addition, although alcohol does have a sedative effect it should not be used as a coping tool. This type of behavior can lead to alcoholism and worse yet, more anxiety.

So if you know that you’re a light weight, or if you already know that alcohol makes you anxious, don’t bother. Maybe I don’t need to say it, but really some people just don’t know when to say no.

Note: I want to hear your opinions. Let me know what you think about this issue – comment below.

Update

After waiting forever I finally completed a podcast for this article. Press play to listen now.

anxiety symptoms

Comments

  1. Tyler says

    Hey I’m 21, I’ve binged drank since I was 14. I just started having really bad anxiety attacks about a month ago. I got blood, urine, and EKG and chest x Ray. They all came back clean, I was having bad heart palpitations, dizzyness, nuause, sick, puking, heart pounding, strong heart beats, felt like throat was closing in on me, can’t sleep or eat. I always feel fine a couple days later,and my hangover lasts roughy 3 days at some times. I just wanna die at times and cry, the only thing that helps me is when my gf is beside me helping me deal with it. I’m really stupid and can’t refuse alcohol. I really need to stop drinking :(

Trackbacks

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