We all know that drinking alcohol can have an effect on our minds and body, but have you ever woken up from a night out in complete panic, obsessively going over events from the night before, trying to piece together what you should or shouldn’t have done, throwing yourself into a shame spiral? Well you’re not alone! This isn’t just the hangover talking, you just might be suffering from alcohol anxiety which is a real thing that effects a lot of people (most of them without even knowing it).
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Whilst most people might put their change in mood down to usual hangover effects, feeling low the day after drinking could actually point to alcohol anxiety. Drinking alcohol doesn’t just have physical consequences like tiredness and headaches, it can have an overwhelming effect on our mental state. Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno explains alcohol anxiety and what affects it has on our mental health.
“Whilst drinking can feel good at the time, alcohol is a depressant, which means in can disrupt our brain chemistry”. “Drinking can lower levels of serotonin in our brain, which is our “ feel good” neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our moods and social behaviour. A drop in these serotonin levels can be linked to things like depression, anxiety and insomnia,”
“Drinking also negatively affects our sleep which can have ramifications the next day and a drop in blood glucose levels can leave us feeling low on energy, irritable and nauseous”.
“On top of this, when our bodies try to break down alcohol it produces the toxic by-product acetaldehyde, which is a chemical compound that produces symptoms such as anxiety, incoordination, memory impairment and an elevated heart rate.
Drinking in moderation can certainly give you a mood boost whilst doing it, in a similar way that anti-anxiety medications can make you feel more relaxed. However, if you start to display symptoms of alcohol anxiety it might be time to give it a rest. Your body can build up a tolerance to alcohol over time and you’ll start to notice that you need more and more alcohol to “feel good”. In addition, you might experience the after effects the next day which can begin to outweigh the feel good effects at the time.
Here are some ways to ease the anxious feelings you might be having that are associated with drinking alcohol:
Keep up your hydration
Our brains are made up of 75% water and besides giving us a headache, dehydration can alter the way we think by slowing down circulation. This lowers the blood flow which in turn means less blood travelling to all parts of the body including the brain.
Stay off social media
If you’re already feeling low, social media has been known to trigger more sadness, especially if you start comparing your life to others.
Caffeine in drinks such as coffee or coca cola will continue to raise your heart rate and also contribute to dehydration.
Avoid negative self talk
Instead open up a thought diary and debrief with facts, not your assumptions.
Get some fresh air
Staying cooped up in bed all day is only going to allow for more overthinking and being outside will ensure you’re getting enough oxygen to the brain.
Chat with a friend
More than often we have over thought things into existence that didn’t really happen. Talking it out can help clear up some of your anxieties.