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Updated on February 24, 2023
5 min read

Hangover Anxiety (Hangxiety)

What is Hangxiety (Hangover Anxiety)?

Hangxiety, also known as hangover anxiety, is a type of anxiety that occurs after consuming a lot of alcohol. 

As your body and brain rebalance after getting drunk, you may experience a mini-withdrawal from alcohol. This temporarily affects your nervous system and, therefore, your mood.

Here are some of the symptoms of hangover anxiety:

  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling on edge
  • Experiencing a sense of impending doom
  • Feeling panicky
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gastrointestinal problems
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Hangxiety vs. Anxiety

While hangxiety and anxiety may have similar symptoms, they’re two different conditions. The main difference between hangxiety and anxiety is the cause.

Hangxiety is a term used to describe the anxiety that can occur after a night of heavy drinking. It's often accompanied by guilt and regret due to the actions taken while under the influence of alcohol.

On the other hand, anxiety is an ongoing mental health condition due to day-to-day triggers. Genetics, environment, and life experience can cause anxiety. It can cause fear, worry, and unease that can last for weeks or months.

What Causes Hangxiety?

Hangxiety, or hangover anxiety, is a phenomenon many experience after drinking alcohol. While it can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, it’s important to understand what causes hangxiety to manage it better.

Here are different factors that cause hangxiety:

Body’s Reaction to Alcohol

The most common cause of hangxiety is the body’s reaction to alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant. It slows down the central nervous system and can make people feel sluggish and tired.13 

Drinking alcohol can lead to feelings of anxiety as the body tries to adjust to its normal state.

Effects on Brain’s Neurotransmitters

Alcohol also affects the brain’s neurotransmitters, which regulate mood and emotions.11 These include dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Consuming alcohol causes an imbalance in these neurotransmitters, leading to feelings of anxiety and depression.

Alcohol also stimulates the GABA neurotransmitter that slows down your brain.12 It can also block the glutamate neurotransmitter linked to anxiety. 

When your brain blocks GABA and releases glutamate, you can go from feeling blissful to anxious.

Psychological Factors

Drinking can lead to guilt or regret for things said or done while under the influence. One study showed that 66.1% of participants engaged in regrettable social behaviors while drunk. This can lead to anxiety, as people worry about how others perceive their behavior.

Alcohol can also inhibit your ability to focus, make you feel disoriented, and affect your memory. You may have trouble remembering events, conversations, and actions. This can trigger paranoia, regret, and anxiety.

Dehydration

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to lose more fluids than it takes in. This can lead to dehydration, which can cause headaches, nausea, lightheartedness, and fatigue. Dehydration can also lead to anxiety as the body struggles to cope with the lack of fluids.

Blood Sugar Imbalance

Alcohol can also lead to a drop in blood sugar levels. A drop in blood sugar can make you feel dizzy, confused, numb, shaky, and, ultimately, nervous.

Palpitations

Alcohol speeds up your heart rate, potentially causing heart palpitations. Heart palpitations are both a symptom and a source of anxiety for many people.

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How to Prevent and Manage Hangxiety 

It's important to avoid drinking additional alcoholic beverages while you try to relieve hangover anxiety. Here are a few steps to help hangxiety:

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Drinking too much can lead to a hangover, triggering anxiety and depression. Try to stick to one or two drinks per hour and avoid drinking on an empty stomach.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can help if physical pain triggers your anxiety. Remember that some medications like Aspirin and ibuprofen can increase acid release and irritate your stomach lining.

Rehydrate

Dehydration plays a role in anxiety and mood swings. Make sure you drink plenty of water to rehydrate. Water and beverages with electrolytes are helpful. Avoid consuming alcoholic drinks while trying to rehydrate.

Sleep

Sleep is absolutely crucial to repair your body. Getting a full night's sleep is one of the best remedies for hangxiety. 

Self-Care Activities

Meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga can help with anxiety. They lower your heart rate, steady your breathing, and ease other anxiety symptoms.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for preventing hangxiety. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night to give your body time to recover from the effects of alcohol.

Take a Shower

A wealth of research suggests that bathing has physical and mental health benefits.4

Essential Oils

Essential oils help some people relax. They also help relieve sore muscles, aches, and pains.

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When to Seek Help

Hangover anxiety is a common problem that occurs after drinking. However, if you notice that your anxiety worsens or is affecting your daily life, it may be time to seek help.

Talking with a mental health professional can help you understand the underlying causes of your anxiety and develop strategies to manage it.

For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that can be particularly helpful in treating hangover anxiety. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to anxiety.

You may also seek help for alcohol use disorder (AUD) if you find that your drinking is causing or worsening your anxiety. Common AUD treatments include:

Summary

Hangover anxiety refers to anxious feelings that can occur after drinking alcohol. It's a common problem but can be managed with lifestyle changes. 

If your anxiety worsens or affects your daily life, it may be time to seek professional help. Professional treatments for alcohol problems can also help you manage your anxiety.

Updated on February 24, 2023
14 sources cited
Updated on February 24, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. “Anxiety Symptoms.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.
  2. “Aromatherapy as an Adjunct for the Management and Treatment of Pain: Therapeutic Grade Aromatherapy Essential Oils for Pain.” Journal of Prolotherapy, 2016.
  3. Cullins, A. “How to Deal with Hangxiety (Hangover Anxiety).” Ria Health, 2020.
  4. Goto, et al. “Physical and Mental Effects of Bathing: A Randomized Intervention Study.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, Hindawi, 2018.
  5. “Hangovers.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  6. Lantman, et al. “The Impact of Alcohol Hangover Symptoms on Cognitive and Physical Functioning, and Mood.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, 2017.
  7. Marsh, et al. “Shyness, Alcohol Use Disorders and 'Hangxiety': A Naturalistic Study of Social Drinkers.” Personality and Individual Differences, Pergamon, 2018.
  8. “Preventing Hangover Anxiety.” Dual Diagnosis.
  9. “Meditation Offers Significant Heart Benefits.” Harvard Health. 
  10. van Schrojenstein Lantman, et al. “The Impact of Alcohol Hangover Symptoms on Cognitive and Physical Functioning, and Mood.” Human Psychopharmacology, 2017.
  11. Banerjee, N. "Neurotransmitters in alcoholism: A review of neurobiological and genetic studies." Indian J Hum Genet, 2014.
  12. Olsen, RW, Liang, J. "Role of GABAA receptors in alcohol use disorders suggested by chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) rodent model." Mol Brain, 2017.
  13. Mukherjee S. "Alcoholism and its effects on the central nervous system." Curr Neurovasc Res, 2013.
  14. Dunne EM, Katz EC. "Alcohol Outcome Expectancies and Regrettable Drinking-Related Social Behaviors." Alcohol Alcohol, 2015.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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