Caffeine Restricts Blood Flow To The Brain
When you are anxious, blood flow to the brain is already reduced and caffeine can reduce it further.
Caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain by as much as 27%.
Blood flow is the delivery system for getting nutrients of all kinds to your brain including oxygen, water, glucose, vitamins, and minerals.
An interesting aside is that many people take brain supplements and nootropics like ginkgo, citicoline, curcumin, and vinpocetine which work, in part, by increasing blood flow to the brain not realizing that the caffeine they drink essentially neutralizes this benefit!
Why Does Alcohol Give You A Hangover
All too often, a fun night out with friends ends in a not-so-fun morning. And no matter how much you enjoyed the evening before, you probably hate being hungover. You may find yourself asking: Why does alcohol make people feel so sick?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism1, several factors contribute to hangovers.
To begin with, as your body metabolizes alcohol, it releases a compound called acetaldehyde2. This toxic compound causes inflammation throughout the body, especially in your liver, gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and brain. Inflammation plays a role in all sorts of illnesses, and it likely contributes to the sick feeling of a hangover too.
Alcohol also dehydrates you, which leads to headache, thirst, and fatigue. It irritates the lining of your stomach, causing nausea and sometimes vomiting. In addition, excessive consumption of alcohol disrupts your sleep, further contributing to fatigue and uneasiness.
Finally, as your brain attempts to rebalance itself after a night of drinking, you may experience a mini-withdrawal from alcohol. This can temporarily impact your nervous system, affecting your mood.
So How Do You Best Avoid Experiencing Alcohol Anxiety
The obvious answer would be to avoid drinking alcohol, as many have reported that they are better able to cope with their anxiety as a result.
If youre wondering whether staying dry and avoiding alcohol will make a difference to how you feel, then take note from research by Londons Royal Free Hospital. They monitored 102 men and women who were regular drinkers during a month of no drinking.
They found substantial improvements not only with liver function but also in the quality of sleep. The Independent has reported that alcohol holds back glutamine which keeps you awake. Once youve stopped drinking , the body floods the body with glutamine trying to wake you up making it more difficult to get a good nights sleep.
If you suffer from anxiety, wouldnt it be better to just give it up? And can you? Its worth some serious thought.
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What Is Beer Fear Or Hangxiety
Aside from the well-known physical symptoms of a hangover, you may have noticed that you feel more anxious the day after drinking. Not only is alcohol a depressant, which can make you feel low, the fear is a nagging worry that you did or said something you shouldnt have. You may also feel angry or disappointed in yourself for drinking too much.
Quitting Alcohol Cured My Anxiety
Its not unusual for people to use alcohol to alleviate anxiety. However, the relationship between anxiety and alcohol use disorder can become a dangerous, self-perpetuating cycle. Scientific research reveals how habitual drinking amplifies symptoms of anxiety or vice versa. Outside of the medical community, the internet is flooded with information and forums discussing howquitting alcohol cured my anxiety. We decided to explore more on this topic.
Every human being experiences emotions. Some are great. Some really suck. But all are normal and natural. Intense emotions, however, can trigger crippling fear and worry that can manifest into complex anxiety disorders. Anxiety continues to be one of the most common and pervasive mental disorders affecting nearly 40 million people in the United States. They are real, serious medical conditions just like heart disease or diabetes. Unfortunately, the majority of sufferers dont receive needed treatment only about 39% do leaving a gap in care that forces many into dangerous self-medicating practices.
In the absence of medication and treatment, alcohol seems to be among the most widely used substances.
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What Happens When You Drink
Drinking alcohol has an effect on the mind and body and one could argue that its positive , which is why those who suffer from anxiety turn to alcohol to mask their feelings. Its ironic that we are culturally conditioned to have a drink to calm our nerves because we now know that the opposite can be true. Thats because its mostly the hangover the next day, while your body is trying to get rid of the toxin that causes alcohol anxiety.
Drinkaware.co.uk tells us that alcohol affects brain chemistry by lowering the levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter a message sender if you like, responsible for a range of functions including mood, sleep, and memory. Low levels of serotonin mean that you sleep poorly, have mood swings, and have trouble remembering things. If you already suffer from anxiety this is not going to help.
About 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence, and a recent study found that the two disorders have a stronger connection among women.
Side Effects Of Alcohol Misuse
Even if someone starts drinking alcohol as a way to cope with anxiety, it can quickly have the opposite effect. For one, drinking alcohol more frequently or having larger amounts can cause hangovers.
The symptoms of a hangover, such as nausea and vomiting, dizziness, dehydration, and low blood sugar, can make it hard to function. If someone is sick because of a hangover, they might not be able to attend to their responsibilities at home, school, or workwhich can, in turn, fuel their anxiety.
Heavy or regular alcohol misuse also often leads to withdrawal. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and anxiety disorders can be similar. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Panic attacks
If a person experiences alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it can create a cycle of heightened anxiety and increased alcohol misuse.
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Dating Alcohol And Anxiety
This played out in my dating life as well. I would be overtaken by thoughts of Why didnt this guy text me? Why havent we hung out this week? Did I say something stupid? Should I message him?
I would re-read texts or e-mails combing for clues about what I couldve done wrong. Dont get me wrong. I knew I was being ridiculous. But it was just like the stove.
Besides, I knew other women who had the same tendencies and saw this kind of neuroses played out in TV series, so I figured it was just what single women do sometimes.
Carrie Bradshaw on ten with drunk texts.
My more rational side tried to distract myself and not worry, but it was a losing battle. Actually, it was a big red flag, but I couldnt see it. The men certainly did. I remained single for a very, very long time.
Does Alcohol Worsen Anxiety
When people use drinking to deal with stress and panic, they can experience severe consequences even from drinking eventually. Like other frequently abused substances, the combination of alcoholism, hangover, and withdrawal can lead to an increased risk of panic attacks. Consequently, this kind of abuse can result in both alcohol addiction and anxiety and more severe panic disorder attacks.
Drinking is not just bad because it can worsen panic attacks it is the cause for anxiety in many instances too. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, anxiety is a mental health disorder that sometimes occurs as a result of prolonged drinking.
Studies have also been carried out to support this fact, and according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, at least 7% of Americans have anxiety related to alcohol usage.
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Social Anxiety Disorder And Alcohol Abuse
At around the age of 10, I became aware that I was different. I felt intense social anxiety. I had no skills to use to interact socially with my peers. I was quiet and blended into the walls. I didnt trust my perceptions and it took many years before I could admit, much less say aloud, how I felt.
These are the words of Cynthia Kipp, who has social anxiety disorder.
My family didnt seem to pay too much attention to my phobia. I did what was expected as a good girl.
Cynthias tumultuous childhood her father was abusive and suffered from schizophrenia coupled with social anxiety led to difficult teenage years. She didnt feel part of any group of friends, and she started drinking to alleviate her anxiety around her peers.
But her drinking soon became as big of a problem as her anxiety, if not bigger.
About 15 million U.S. adults, or 7 percent of the population, have social anxiety disorder in any given year. And it isnt unusual for people with social anxiety disorder or other anxiety disorders to drink excessively to cope with symptoms or try to escape them.Murray Stein, MD, MPH, and John Walker, PhD, write in Triumph Over Shyness: Conquering Social Anxiety Disorder that social anxiety disorder frequently travels in the company of other emotional difficulties such as alcohol or drug abuse, depression, and other anxiety disorders.
My drinking was self-destructive, and that compounded my low self-esteem.
Why Does Alcohol Cause Hangover Anxiety
The brains effort to rebalance itself chemically post-drinking is a major factor in hangxiety. Like many substances, alcohol disrupts neurotransmitters3 like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Initially, this can cause a short-lived rush of euphoria. But as these feel-good chemicals recede, you may remember all the problems you temporarily forgot about, causing you to feel depressed or anxious.
Alcohol also stimulates the production of GABA4 , a neurotransmitter that slows and calms the brain. Often, medication prescribed to reduce anxiety or improve sleep is designed to increase this brain chemical. If youve ever felt more relaxed and cheerful after a few drinks, its probably the result of GABA.
After a couple more drinks, your brain also begins to block an excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate, which studies5 have linked to anxiety. This generally makes you feel even more relaxed, especially if you already struggle with general anxiety or social anxiety. It can feel as though the chatter in your brain has finally quieted. And for a while, this feels wonderful.
But then, your well-meaning brain embarks on a mission to rebalance these chemicals. It begins to block GABA and produce higher levels of glutamate. Sometimes, this prompts a rapid swing from blissful calm to anxiety and dread.
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Alcohol Prevents Stress Coping
This is where alcohol can cause a serious problem. For many people, alcohol replaced your brain’s need to learn to cope with stress on its own. Alcohol doesn’t help you cope, it simply numbs emotions. That’s why many people turn to alcohol for anxiety conditions such as:
- Panic Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
You may not have turned to alcohol because you had anxiety, but everyone deals with day to day stresses, and when drinking these stresses are numbed, but not dealt with. It’s like using a powerful painkiller on an open wound – you won’t feel any pain, but the wound will keep bleeding.
Treating Anxiety Unrelated To Alcohol
While alcohol may feel like a quick fix for reducing feelings of anxiety, you probably realize by now that the effects are only temporary, and the anxiety that often follows isnt worth it. But there are plenty of other ways to treat your anxiety, including medication, psychotherapy, breathing exercises, cutting back on caffeine, getting enough sleep, and staying active. Please speak with a licensed professional if there are any concerns around your relationship with drinking.
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How To Prevent Hangover Anxiety
Although its possible to manage hangxiety to some degree, its even better to avoid it entirely. Simple steps to prevent hangxiety in the first place include eating before drinking, and following each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water. Research8 indicates that dehydration plays a role in anxiety and other mood changes, so staying hydrated will help prevent both hangover and hangxiety.
Its also helpful to drink less alcohol. The more you drink, the worse your hangover will be. Try pacing yourself, and setting a limit for the evening before you begin drinking. Go out with friends who would also like to limit their drinking, rather than friends who will drink to excess. This way, you can keep each other accountable while still having a fun evening.
Of course, this advice may seem obvious, but its often much easier said than done. If you struggle to drink in moderation, Ria Health can help. Our convenient, easy-to-use telemedicine platform gives you 24/7 access to the resources and support you need to change your relationship with alcohol. You set your own personal goals, and we help you achieve them.
Our program includes regular online coaching meetings, medical support, and handy digital tools that let you track your progress. We also offer medications like acamprosate, baclofen, and topiramate that rebalance GABA levels, treating both anxiety and alcohol cravings at once.
What Is It Like To Feel Anxious After Drinking Alcohol
The signs and symptoms of anxiety that people can experience after drinking alcohol can include sweating, restlessness, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, tremor, feeling tense and easily overwhelmed, and wanting to avoid people and responsibilities, Jaffe says.
You might feel irritable and worry about things unnecessarily, and could even have a panic attack.
For people that are predisposed to feeling symptoms of panic, the bodily sensations of alcohol withdrawal can trigger a panic attack due to a person misinterpreting those sensations as something more dangerous than they actually are, Yusko says.
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How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Anxiety
Alcohol acts as a sedative, so it can help you feel more at ease. It may make you feel more socially confident at a party or help you forget your worries.
However, these benefits are short term. When we drink alcohol it disrupts the balance of chemicals and processes in the brain. The relaxed feeling you experience when you have your first drink is due to the chemical changes alcohol causes in your brain. The alcohol starts to depress the part of the brain that we associate with inhibition5.
But these effects wear off fast and the pleasant feelings fade. If you rely on alcohol to mask your anxiety problems, you may find you become reliant on it to relax, which may lead to alcohol addiction.A likely side-effect of this is that the more you drink the greater your tolerance for alcohol will be. Over time you may need to drink more alcohol to get the same feeling. In the long term this pattern of alcohol use may affect your mental health.
Treatment For Dual Diagnosis
People can usually manage all types of anxiety successfully by using a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and therapy rather than alcohol. Overall, quitting alcohol can cure anxiety, especially if addressed early on. Habitual alcohol use and continued abuse, on the other hand, may require addiction treatment and rehabilitation.
The outlook with those who suffer from AUD is a little more complicated. AUD is a chronic condition that includes a variety of factors and effects. In most cases, dual diagnosis care provides the most support for addressing anxiety and AUD effectively.
If youre suffering from addiction to alcohol and anxiety, it can be hard to find the right help. Many people view AUD as a more immediate danger. However, without treating the underlying anxiety, the chances of relapse increase. Reaching out to a dual diagnosis treatment center can help clarify how to address both co-occurring disorders.
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Alcohol & Mental Health Issues
People who struggle with trauma and other mental health issues are more likely to abuse alcohol.
I struggled with depression in my teenage years and, like many young people, learned quickly that you can self-medicate with alcohol. It feels good to seem relaxed and uninhibited.
Sure, I had some embarrassing moments in my twenties when I spazzed out while drinking, but who didnt? Everybody, it seemed, had a good story about the time they got trashed and got into a fight or went apeshit at a party.
It felt normal. Even when I began losing friends after some of these episodes, it never occurred to me to stop drinking. I figured I was a flawed person and the booze just brought it out every now and again.
Those people werent really my friends anyway, so who cares?
Alcohol exacerbated my depression. It altered already imbalanced chemical levels in my brain and dragged me further down into some dark places.
Id spend my entire twenties and the first half of my thirties struggling to get out.
Focus On Hydration Before During And After Drinking
If you don’t feel reliant on alcohol and want to continue drinking occasionally in social situations, make sure you pay extra attention to your hydration levels. You can do this by increasing your water intake before, during and after ingesting alcohol of any form.
“This combats the dehydration caused by consuming alcohol. Drinking coconut water, which is high in electrolytes, is beneficial,” Blassingame recommends.
You may have more frequent trips to the restroom but you’ll also feel better in the A.M.
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Is There A Connection Between Alcohol And Anxiety
Alcohol is a common form of self-medication for social anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. In fact, about 25% of people with panic disorder have a history of alcohol dependence.
Not only does anxiety lead to drinking, and drinking lead to anxiety, but the two trigger each other into a spiralling cycle. For example, anxiety makes a person start drinking, which worsens their anxiety, which leads them to drink more, and worsen their anxiety further.
Alcohol causes anxiety because it upsets hormones, brain function, and sleep. When the body and mind havent had the opportunity to rest, a person may feel on edge and irritable. If a person is also taking antidepressants, which is not uncommon for people with anxiety, the combination of the two worsens the condition and can trigger a severe panic attack.
Long-term alcohol abuse can not only induce panic attacks but can also lead to PTSD. This becomes even more true if a person has an anxiety or panic disorder. Alcohol not only contributes to anxiety but rewires the part of the brain responsible for coping with fear. Because of this, a person will hold on to fear-inducing associations longer, and will have a harder time recovering from trauma.
There is also evidence that chronic alcohol abuse can lead to lasting anxiety, even after a person becomes sober.