What is hangxiety

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Ibiza Calm - What is hangxiety
27/07/2023 | category: News

What is hangxiety

Do you wake up anxious after a night’s drinking? Full of dread and fear, on-edge, irritable and unable to relax. Then you are not alone. Along with common physical symptoms, such as dehydration, headaches, and nausea; “hangxiety” is a psychological after-effect, thought to be experienced by around 12% of people following the consumption of alcohol.

Many people expect, and accept they are going to feel rough the day after a boozy binge. For lots of individuals, drinking alcohol is associated with mixing with friends, celebrations, and relaxing after work, and any ill effects are accepted as part of the “fun”.

However, some people use alcohol as a crutch. It is a way for them to deal with awkward or uncomfortable situations, difficult life events, or simply to get through the day. And for some, this means their susceptibility to “hangxiety” could be heightened.

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What causes hangxiety?

No-one truly knows what causes hangxiety; all the following can contribute to that “morning after” feeling of dread and horror.

Chemical changes in the brain.

Drinking causes chemical changes in the brain. Alcohol affects the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor (GABA), making us more relaxed.

Then the production of glutamate is limited. Glutamate is necessary to keep our brains functioning, but high levels of glutamate can (amongst other things) cause anxiety, depression, restlessness, and insomnia. A decrease in its production can promote calmness and encourages the lowering of inhibitions.

As the alcohol wears off our brains fight to restore the correct chemical balance, reducing the calm feelings and often flooding the brain with glutamate – increasing levels of anxiety.

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Anyone who has had a night out drinking can relate to waking up the following morning with a mouth that feels like it is full of sawdust, and an unbelievable thirst that feels like it can’t be quenched. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes us pass water (urinate) more frequently. As it also lowers reactions and responses, generally it means most of us don’t refill ourselves with enough non-alcoholic liquids, therefore the morning after a night on the booze we are naturally dehydrated and thirsty.

Dehydration itself can lead to anxiety. It can cause wooziness, lethargy and fatigue which can all lead to agitation. Dehydration can cause confusion or brain fog, which can result in the onset of panic attacks. All these physical symptoms can have a major impact on our emotional well-being.

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Poor sleep can also contribute to those anxious feelings related to “hangxiety”. Heavy drinking is a recipe for tossing and turning, nightmares, night sweats, and poor, often interrupted sleep. And whilst some people believe that a small nightcap can help them drop off to sleep, seemingly helping you to fall asleep faster; it is recommended that you avoid alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime, as even a small amount will interfere with the quality of your sleep.

Lack of sleep, or poor sleep, leads to all manner of problems the next day. Tiredness can make us want to hibernate from the world and withdraw from social situations. It leaves us grumpy, irritable, unfocused, unable to concentrate or retain information, and has also been shown to aid in poor food choices. All of which heighten anxiety, depression, low self-confidence, and negative feelings towards ourselves.

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Lower tolerance to alcohol.

There is surprisingly little known about alcohol tolerance levels, what is widely understood is that everyone is different. In addition, a person’s tolerance can differ week-to-week, year-on-year. Hormones, amount of food eaten, certain medications, physical illness, stress, emotional pain, age – can all impact how quickly someone will get drunk, and how much it will take to reach a staggering state of intoxication.

Similarly, whether someone will suffer from a hangover differs from person to person; some individuals can drink vast quantities and only experience mild hangovers, while some people will struggle after just a couple of glasses. A study undertaken at the University of the West of Scotland, suggests that there could be a link between being “hangover sensitive” and “hangxiety”. Those individuals who were better able to tolerate alcohol, seemed to experience less anxiety the following day.

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Shyness or social awkwardness.

An investigation run jointly by the UCLA and the University of Exeter found that people who are “highly shy” tend to experience more severe anxiety the day after drinking. Alcohol is also known to make many mental health conditions worse, including anxiety. Meaning if you are already struggling with an anxiety disorder, you are more than likely going to be prone to suffering “hangxiety” along with your physical hangover symptoms.

Alcohol lowers inhibitions and may cause a person to act out of character, engaging in behaviours that sober they would never consider. Some of these actions and behaviours can lead to shame and regret the following day, adding to the swirling negative emotions and general feelings of low self-worth and self-respect.

With the hangover from hell and crippling hangxiety, do you ever wonder why you keep drinking?

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Alcohol misuse, and alcohol use disorder (AUD)

If you are regularly drinking alcohol to disguise anxiety, or to deal with another mental health problem, you may find you become reliant on it to relax – putting you at risk of dependence and addiction. You also won’t be helping the underlying problem as alcohol is known to exacerbate mental health disorders.

Drinking on negative emotions is never a good idea, and repeatedly drinking to try and “fix” feelings is a sign that you may have a problem. Alcohol is a toxic substance. It can affect the body’s health and mental well-being and cause both physical and psychological damage in the short, and long-term.

3 million deaths a year are attributable to alcohol use, and according to the World Health Organization it is the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability among those aged 15 to 49 years.

Alcohol misuse is the term used when you drink in a way that is harmful-to your health, finances, or relationships. It can also mean that you are dependent on alcohol, emotionally or physically.

Alcohol use disorder is the medical terminology a doctor, therapist or clinician would use to describe someone presenting with signs of a problem with alcohol. It can refer to a diagnosis at varying stages – mild, moderate, or severe, and is usually characterised as having an impaired ability to stop or control one’s use of alcohol, despite repeated negative consequences. AUD is classed as a brain disorder.

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Signs of alcohol use disorder

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the most common substance use disorder in the world. It can affect anyone, from any walk of life, at any time.

Everyone drinks differently, and what may be a problem for some, might be completely normal for others.

But when should we be worried that there could be a problem?

  • Drinking larger amounts, or more frequently.
  • Failing to keep up with responsibilities at home, or with work.
  • Harmful or even dangerous consequences to drinking.
  • Struggling to stop or cut back.
  • Problems with close relationships due to alcohol.
  • Being secretive about amounts drunk or drinking alone.
  • Drinking to try and stop feelings.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, tremors, or cravings.

These are just some of the signs that there is an issue with the way you drink. If you find you are drinking when you don’t really want to, you feel guilty about how much or when you are drinking, or that you are drinking despite it causing you either physical or emotional problems then it is a good idea to speak to someone.

Why don’t you try our self-test here?

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Alcohol rehab clinic in Spain

Here at our luxury residential rehab centre, set on the idyllic Balearic Island of Ibiza, we treat clients struggling with alcoholism, addiction, and substance abuse, as well as other underlying and co-occurring mental health conditions such as trauma, anxiety, and depression.

For information on all our rehab programmes and details on admissions to our Spanish rehab centre, please contact [email protected]

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