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Hangover Anxiety (Hangxiety)

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What is Hangxiety (Hangover Anxiety)?

Drinking alcohol can cause physical, mental, and emotional side effects.

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

A hangover refers to the physical and mental consequences you feel the day after drinking. When you consume alcohol, your body metabolizes it into a toxic compound called acetaldehyde.

This compound causes inflammation. The combination of inflammation and dehydration can cause you to feel sick.

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

Hence: Hangxiety.

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What Causes Hangxiety?

The symptoms of a hangover can last for 24 hours or longer. Symptoms will peak when the blood alcohol content (BAC) in your body falls back down to about zero.

One of the worst symptoms of a hangover is anxiety. 22.6 percent of people report experiencing hangxiety.

Alcohol disrupts your neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. This is what causes the euphoria. But when these chemicals recede, it can give you anxiety and depression.

Alcohol also stimulates the GABA neurotransmitter that slows down your brain. Many anxiety medications are made to increase this neurotransmitter.

Alcohol can block the glutamate neurotransmitter that’s been linked to anxiety as well. This can feel good until your brain starts to rebalance its chemicals again.

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

Non-brain related reasons you may feel anxious after drinking alcohol include:

Your blood sugar will likely drop from drinking. A drop in blood sugar can make you feel dizzy, confused, numb, shaky, and, ultimately, nervous.

Alcohol dehydrates you. Dehydration causes nausea, fatigue, lightheadedness, weakness and can fuel anxiety surrounding health fears.

Your body goes into a hyperactive state from fighting off the sedative effects of alcohol. This can give you symptoms of anxiety. It can also keep you from sleeping.

Alcohol may speed up your heart rate, which can give you heart palpitations. Heart palpitations are both a symptom and a source of anxiety for many people.

Alcohol can 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.

Shyness is linked to hangxiety. Hangover anxiety often has greater effects on shy people than on extroverts. Social anxiety can fuel drinking habits. Hangxiety creates an increased risk of alcoholism for shy people.

Symptoms of Hangover Anxiety

The symptoms of hangover anxiety are similar to typical anxiety. The key difference is that generalized anxiety occurs due to day-to-day triggers. Hangover anxiety happens because of alcohol consumption.

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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How to Manage Symptoms of Hangxiety 

It's important to avoid drinking additional alcohol beverages while you try to relieve hangover anxiety. Here are a few steps you can take to help hanganxiety:

Over the Counter Pain Relievers

If physical pain is triggering your anxiety, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can help. Keep in mind 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 to 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.

Take a Shower

A wealth of research suggests that there are physical and mental health benefits to bathing. 

Essential Oils

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

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How Long Does Hangover Anxiety Last?

This answer will be different for everyone. Hangover symptoms typically last 24 hours or less. However, anxiety symptoms due to alcohol withdrawal can last for several days.

Professional Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Generalized anxiety is very common. It’s important to manage it so that it doesn’t control your life.

If you have an alcohol use disorder and a mental health problem, it is essential to seek help for both conditions. 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the country, affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older. That’s 18.1 percent of the entire United States population.

And while anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9 percent of those who suffer from anxiety actually receive treatment.

If you are experiencing hangxiety, it may be time to seek professional treatment. Talk to a specialist about treatment options for you.

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Updated on March 25, 2022
11 sources cited
  1. “Anxiety Symptoms.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/symptoms.
  2. “Aromatherapy as an Adjunct for the Management and Treatment of Pain: Therapeutic Grade Aromatherapy Essential Oils for Pain.” Journal of Prolotherapy, 15 July 2016, journalofprolotherapy.com/aromatherapy-as-an-adjunct-for-the-management-and-treatment-of-pain-therapeutic-grade-aromatherapy-essential-oils-for-pain/.
  3. Cullins, Ashley. “How to Deal with Hangxiety (Hangover Anxiety).” Ria Health, 6 Nov. 2020, riahealth.com/2020/02/11/how-to-deal-with-hangxiety/.
  4. Goto, Yasuaki, et al. “Physical and Mental Effects of Bathing: A Randomized Intervention Study.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, Hindawi, 7 June 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6011066/
  5. “Hangovers.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/hangovers
  6. “Hangovers.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/hangovers
  7. Lantman, Marith van Schrojenstein, et al. “The Impact of Alcohol Hangover Symptoms on Cognitive and Physical Functioning, and Mood.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 27 July 2017, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hup.2623.
  8. Marsh, Beth, et al. “Shyness, Alcohol Use Disorders and 'Hangxiety': A Naturalistic Study of Social Drinkers.” Personality and Individual Differences, Pergamon, 5 Nov. 2018, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886918305762.
  9. “Preventing Hangover Anxiety.” Dual Diagnosis, dualdiagnosis.org/hangover-anxiety/.
  10. Publishing, Harvard Health. “Meditation Offers Significant Heart Benefits.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/meditation-offers-significant-heart-benefits
  11. van Schrojenstein Lantman, Marith, et al. “The Impact of Alcohol Hangover Symptoms on Cognitive and Physical Functioning, and Mood.” Human Psychopharmacology, John Wiley and Sons Inc., Sept. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5638093/.

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