Is alcohol affecting my mental health? The truth about ‘Hangxiety’

A new concept has recently surfaced called ‘hangxiety’, which highlights the negative effects alcohol can have on our mental health. A hangover refers to the unpleasant symptoms that occur after heavy drinking – including nausea, headaches and dizziness. But how does it affect your mental health? While the physical symptoms of alcohol consumption are often discussed, the connection between alcohol and our emotional wellbeing is unfortunately often overlooked. This blog explores the link between alcohol and anxiety, and highlights the steps can be taken to reduce your ‘hangxiety’.

What is hangxiety?

Hangxiety is a term for feeling anxious, jittery or stressed after consuming too much alcohol. It’s something most of us have experienced at some point in our life. It’s important to understand that alcohol can take its toll on our brain chemistry, giving rise to feelings of anxiety. When we drink heavily for an extended period of time, there can be structural changes in our brains and impairments in neurotransmitter functioning. This ultimately leads to chemical imbalances that negatively impact our mental health.

Can I prevent hangxiety?

Drinking comes with a lot of emotions. And depending on how much you drink, those emotions can go from euphoric to anxiety, sadness, irritability and more. In fact, studies have shown that as little as two drinks for women and three drinks for men can increase feelings of sadness and depression. This is referred to as ‘depressive symptoms’. Therefore, to help avoid hangxiety happening in the first place, try limiting your intake to no more than two drinks per night. And if anxiety persists even after cutting back on your drinking, talk to a therapist who specializes in addiction counselling. Treatment for hangxiety typically involves addressing underlying issues such as depression or other mental disorders.

How can I reduce the effects of hangxiety?

If you’re experiencing hangxiety after a night of drinking, there are steps you can take to help reduce your anxiety and get back on track:

  • Try getting outside and exercising. Exercise can improve feelings of stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins into your system, reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) and increasing blood flow throughout your body. Studies have shown that exercise can help manage symptoms of depression and PTSD as well, so make sure to incorporate it into your routine.
  • Practice mindfulness: take some time to meditate and do some slow breathing exercises to help you feel more grounded and re-centre your mind.
  • Try other stress-relieving activities such as listening to music or taking a bath.
  • Talk to friends and family: if you’re experiencing hangxiety, you can share your thoughts and feelings with a loved-one who can help you talk through your emotions and make you feel better.

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