We all know the classic hangover symptoms: nausea, headaches, dry mouth, vomiting, etc. What you may not know is that many people also experience another symptom when they are hungover, one that can be worse than all those classic symptoms combined–anxiety. If you have ever suffered from “hanxiety”, know that you are not the only one, and it’s certainly not in your head! There are actually measurable reasons that this happens. Let’s take a closer look.
A dutch study published in 2012, looked at 1,400 Dutch students. About half of them reported dealing with hangover symptoms after a night out drinking. Of those that experienced hangovers, 7% said that they also experienced a heightened sense of anxiety.
Sally Winston, a clinical psychologist and member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) spoke with Refinery29 about what exactly hanxiety is and why it happens.
You may find yourself reviewing everything you said and did, or wondering what you said and did [the night before] if you drank too much…You might be thinking about what other people think about you, and the retrospective review of your own behavior can cause a lot of anxiety depending on how much you remember, on how you behaved, and how much anxiety you had to start with.” says Dr. Winston.
Dr. Winston also pointed out that these symptoms can be significantly worse if you drank to the point of actually blacking out. “If you’ve had a blackout, that means you’ve had a lot of alcohol, and your imagination can take off,” she says. “You start with ‘what if,’ and you fill in all the blanks, and it can get pretty scary.”.
Another theory behind hanxiety revolves around the effect alcohol has on the GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) receptors in your brain. GABA is the system in your brain that is primarily responsible for helping your brain send messages to your nervous system. Alcohol, much like Xanax, has a very calming effect on that system. However, once the booze wears off and you realize that that relief was only temporary, your brain can start to over rev that system, leading to some serious anxiety.
Perhaps the most common culprit behind a serious bout of hanxiety is simply a lack of proper sleep. When you don’t spend enough time in REM sleep, your body is not able to do the maintenance it needs. That means you are going to find yourself much more irritable and prone to irrational bouts of anxiety. Remember, even though alcohol may help you fall asleep more quickly, you are not getting into the deeper more restful stages of sleep while your body is still processing the alcohol in your system.
It is also worth noting that hanxiety does not just affect people with anxiety disorders, though those people are likely more prone to experiencing it. However, excessive alcohol use can cause anxiety disorders over time.
If you do find yourself experiencing anxiety during a hangover, don’t panic! It’s a normal reaction and can be avoided by treating your hangover as you normally would.
While there are a lot of methods out there for mitigating hangover symptoms, the two best ways we have found are to stay hydrated and keep a packet of Intelligent Drinking’s LAUNCH handy. Visit www.intelligentdrinking.com to learn more.