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Why you get ‘hangxiety’ after a night of drinking

A night of drinking can lead to a pounding headache the next morning, but you also might feel that twinge of regret and anxiety from decisions you made while downing shots.

‘Hangxiety’ is the feeling of being overwhelmed or anxious while recovering from drinking.

And people likely experience this after remembering – or not remembering – the events that unfolded while buzzed, which can force the mind to race.

Alcohol influences someone’s mood and anxiety levels in the brain to make someone feel happier and relaxed. But once the alcohol levels decline in the body, then feelings of anxiety and depression can increase.

These anxious thoughts from drinking escapades can be combated by exercising or or watching a favorite comedy. 

Hangxiety is the feeling of being anxious and overwhelmed after drinking. People who suffer from social anxiety are more likely to experience this than those who don’t. About 15 million people in the United States suffer from social anxiety, which is seven percent of the population

A hangover is symptoms people experience as their body is recovering from an increased amount of alcohol in their system. 

When feelings of anxiety are mixed in with this hangover, it can make it hard for someone to handle their decisions they made the previous day. 


1. Exercise

Exercising is a great way to get the body moving and focusing on something else. 

Physical movement is both a reliever of stress and anxiety.

It helps people sleep better, feel more confident and feel more relaxed. All of these can combine to lower anxiety. 

2. Watch a comedy

Laughter is a good way to release the tension and stress in the body. 

Putting on a show or movie induces laughter can help lessen feelings of anxiety. 

3. Listen to soothing music

Music can have a relaxing effect on the body. By listening to something calming it can help soothe anxiety that someone is feeling. 

4. Light a candle

Aromatherapy has proven to help lessen anxiety and stress for people. 

Some popular scents that have calming effects are lavender, rose, sandalwood and rose.  

5. Deep breathing exercises

Breathing can help reduce the heart rate and calm someone down. 

Focusing on one task like breathing can take the mind off of the anxiety that someone is feeling.

6. Spend time with family and friends 

Social support from family and friends can help calm the feelings of anxiety. 

This can help remind someone of their sense of belonging and self-worth.  

And people who are prone to anxiety can experience these symptoms worse than those who aren’t. 

About 15 million people in the United States have a social anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. 

That makes up seven percent of the population. 

And about 20 percent of people who suffer from social anxiety are also addicted or dependent on alcohol.

But alcohol will only increase the feelings of anxiety as the hangxiety sets in for the person. 

When the alcohol for hits the body, a rush of dopamine occurs in the reward-processing area of the brain. 

This will give people the ‘buzz’ or ‘feel good’ emotions that come with drinking alcohol.

Dr Aparna Iyer, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, told SELF that when these dopamine levels come back down it can impact someone’s mood and anxiety.  

‘The feelings that you have after you drink alcohol, or even the day after, can result in a whole range of feelings and moods and anxiety symptoms,’ she said.

‘It can range from panic to feeling depressed to feeling impulsive to feeling agitated and irritable.’ 

If someone is already prone to anxious thoughts, these anxiety symptoms will heighten as their body re-regulates itself after a night drinking.

Alcohol also increases the effects of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which typically has a calming influence on the body. 

People who experience consistent hangxiety after drinking could relate it to how their body is reacting to the change of GABA and dopamine in the brain during recovery.

Experts say there could be a problem if someone is consistently feeling this way after drinking.

Since anxiety and alcohol dependence are linked to each other, it is sometimes recommended for people to stop drinking to avoid putting extra stress on the mind and body.  


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