While a night of drinking may be enjoyable to many, what isn’t fun is the next morning. Nausea, headaches, and diarrhea are just a few of the unpleasant experiences that can happen during a hangover. Unfortunately, these aren’t the only things people experience the morning after drinking. In addition to the physical discomfort, many people report overwhelming anxiety, referred to as hangxiety.
Waking in the morning with a feeling of dread and concern over what happened the night before is common with hangxiety. You’re worried about what you may have said or done, hoping apologies aren’t needed. If you begin to experience hangxiety regularly, this could be one of your first signs that you may be an alcoholic.
If you have ever woken up the next morning with serious feelings of anxiety following a little bit too much fun with your friends, it was likely due to hangxiety. It can happen to anyone after a night of heavy drinking, regardless of how often you drink, but hangxiety can also be a sign that there are deeper problems at hand.
What is Hangxiety?
The recovery of your brain and body following the consumption of large amounts of alcohol is known as a hangover. Normal symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sore muscles, headaches, dehydration, and hangxiety.
When you drink, your body produces surges of both dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which make you feel happy and relaxed, respectively. When these levels drop, feelings of anxiety may be soon to follow. The withdrawal symptoms that happen when you stop consuming can also contribute to the hangxiety that happens the next morning.
While your body goes through the repair process the next day, it has to come back from a rollercoaster of chemical surges and drops. The mood-boosting chemicals your brain typically has on hand have been depleted, leading to a serious drop in mood. Because your body is rapidly trying to restock its supply of endorphins, a surge in cortisol is triggered, resulting in the increased anxiety.
Anxiety is generally due to fluctuations in hormones, but that isn’t the case with hangxiety. Several things contribute to hangxiety, including:
- Alcohol Detox: When you stop drinking, detox follows shortly after, which can cause you to feel jittery, anxious, nervous, or restless
- Dehydration or Lack of Nutrients: Lack of water, electrolytes, and other nutrients can cause mood changes and anxiety
- Exhaustion: Anxiety becomes more emotionally intense when someone is sleep-deprived
- Social Anxiety: Drinking can make someone that is shy or has social anxiety less guarded and allow them to socialize more easily; once the alcohol wears off and your hormones drop, depression and anxiety can get worse
- Folic Acid Deficiency: One of the things that have been found to contribute to mood symptoms is low folic acid levels; alcohol can affect your levels, causing them to drop, which could be why so many people experience hangxiety after drinking
Side-Effects of Hangxiety & How To Know If You Are Addicted to Alcohol
Whether you were tipsy, blackout drunk, or somewhere in between, the effects of hangxiety can be felt. Anxiety about how you acted in front of friends, family, and strangers while intoxicated happens to just about everyone, even those that don’t have an anxiety disorder. This dreadful anxiety hangover can make you want to stay in your bed and never show your face around anyone again.
It’s understandable why people would be worried about their drunk actions, as alcohol impacts the prefrontal cortex, which gives people the courage to say and do things they may not if they were sober. The next day, you’re embarrassed and anxious, as your body works on restoring the depleted hormones. While this is going on, the hangxiety symptoms you’re likely to experience include:
- Constant restlessness
- Feelings of worry, shame, or embarrassment about how you acted the night before
- Inability to focus
While many alcoholics experience hangxiety, this one thing does not mean you are an alcoholic. Many people become intoxicated once in a while rather than doing this often, but if you are someone that drinks several days a week and has hangxiety just as often, it may be time to seek help.
Additionally, many alcoholics who have anxiety started drinking as a way to self-medicate and allow themselves to open up in social situations. If you experience hangxiety and use alcohol to self-medicate, knowing that alcohol gives you hangxiety, this is a major red flag that there is a problem.
Alternatively, there are several other signs that you have an alcohol addiction, including feeling like you need to drink and drinking at inappropriate times and places. Not only is hangxiety a concern, but excessive drinking can become expensive and have negative effects on your health, personal relationships, and your job.
You can tell that your body is physically dependent on alcohol if you stop drinking and start to experience withdrawal symptoms a few hours later. Some of the common symptoms are:
- Heightened emotions
- Body aches
What To Do if Experiencing Hangxiety
When you experience hangxiety often because you are drinking regularly, it’s time to do something. You can start with speaking to your doctor about it, as they can recommend a variety of treatment methods, including therapy or medication. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with your primary care provider about this, there are plenty of other options for you and resources for getting sober.
For those who have been experiencing hangxiety often, the first thing to do is stop drinking, as alcohol is why you have hangxiety. Some people can quit drinking completely on their own or with the help of their family and friends, but one of the best ways to guarantee success is by reaching out to treatment professionals that have experience helping people get clean and sober. Depending on the severity of your addiction, inpatient care may be your best option.