In this brief guide, we will discuss alcohol and anxiety, anxiety symptoms, side effects of alcohol abuse and alcohol withdrawal, also treatments for alcohol and anxiety disorders.

ALCOHOL AND ANXIETY

Alcohol and anxiety: Do alcohol change levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain?

Alcohol changes levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. Because of that, it can worsen anxiety. After the alcohol wears off, anxiety may increase. Often people with social anxiety disorder drink alcohol to cope with social interactions. Nevertheless, it is dangerous because it can lead to alcohol addiction and can worsen anxiety symptoms.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion assuming an unpleasant state of inner fuss, which often co-occurs with nervous behaviour.

ALCOHOL AND ANXIETY

What are the physiological symptoms of anxiety?

The symptoms of anxiety may be:

  • Headaches,
  • Nausea,
  • Fatigue,
  • Chest pain,
  • Itchy skin,
  • Dyspnea,
  • Diarrhoea,
  • Vertigo,
  • Consistent restlessness,
  • Tensed muscles,
  • Unstable sleep patterns,
  • Irritability,
  • The trouble with concentration,
  • Impotence,
  • Tetany and others.

The links between alcohol and anxiety

People with anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, agoraphobia, often use alcohol to reduce stress and anxiety. There is an After the use feeling; it seems like alcohol helps to cut off from disturbing thoughts. It can raise your mood, make you more communicative, friendly, less shy. Alcohol can have the same effects of anti-anxiety medications. 

Using alcohol is not always the worst idea. However, you should not abuse; otherwise, you can become addicted. Also, alcohol’s anti-anxiety effect can reduce and become ineffective. Anxiety and alcohol are linked. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 20 per cent of people with social anxiety disorder have an alcohol addiction.

University of North Carolina School of Medicine did research and showed that excessive drinking could lead to brain restructuring. It can increase the possibility of getting an anxiety disorder. The study showed that there is a connection between alcohol and anxiety on a molecular level.

ALCOHOL AND ANXIETY

Can alcohol cause anxiety?

Alcohol can cause anxiety. There are many cases when a person has both disorders: alcohol use disorder and anxiety disorder. Abusing alcohol for long can develop an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can also increase if you had been abusing alcohol for a long time, but you stop using it at all suddenly. 

Side effects of alcohol withdrawal can be:

  • Sweating,
  • Nausea,
  • Trembling hands,
  • Vomiting,
  • Heart racing,
  • Hallucinations.

There was a review in 2017, which showed that reducing the use of alcohol, effects on anxiety positively, improving its symptoms, as well as the quality of life.  People with alcohol use disorder have higher levels of anxiety than the ones who do not have it.

It can seem funny that people use alcohol to reduce anxiety, but if they abuse alcohol or become addicted, then instead of reducing anxiety, alcohol increases its symptoms.

Long term damages of alcohol are:

  • Cancer,
  • Heart disease,
  • Liver and pancreas damage,
  • Ulcers,
  • Some infections.
ALCOHOL AND ANXIETY

Side effects of alcohol abuse

As mentioned above, alcohol can increase anxiety and stress. The side effects of alcohol abuse are:

  • Anxiety,
  • Nausea,
  • Increased body temperature,
  • Vomiting,
  • Panic attacks,
  • Agitation,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Racing heartbeat.

You can be curious about how much is too much drinking – According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, for women, it is 8 drinks or more per week, for men is 15 drinks or more per week. 

One drink = one 12-oz bottle of beer (5 percent alcohol), one 5-oz glass of wine (12 percent alcohol), one 8-oz bottle of malt liquor (7 percent alcohol), or 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (40 percent alcohol).

Alcohol abuse can lead to hangovers, which can make you feel more anxious, causing the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness,
  • Headaches,
  • Nausea,
  • Dehydration,
  • Low blood glucose. 

Alcohol and anxiety: Treatment

If a person suffers from an anxiety disorder and at the same time is abusing alcohol, it is recommended to find a treatment, which will be useful for both of them. 

As we can see, alcohol and anxiety are connected. To treat alcohol use disorder and anxiety disorder, you can combine medication treatment and therapy.

Alcohol and anxiety: Medication treatment

Medication treatment includes:

  • Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) or tricyclic,
  • Benzodiazepines for short term use for low abuse possibility.

Alcohol and anxiety: Treatment by therapy

Therapy is an effective treatment for people with anxiety disorder and alcohol abuse. It can be used group therapy or individual therapy (you can go for both of them). 

It can be used as interpersonal therapy or cognitive-behavioural therapy. The last one is more effective and is used to change behavioural patterns by changing thought patterns. 

Recommended books and sources

  1. HFNE “Abilify for anxiety.”
  2. HFNE “Social Anxiety”
  3. Stress And Anxiety Management & Alcohol Addiction
  4. The 28 Day Alcohol-Free Challenge: Sleep Better, Lose Weight, Boost Energy, Beat Anxiety

FAQs about alcohol and anxiety

Can alcohol cause anxiety and panic attacks?

Alcohol can cause anxiety and panic attacks. The reason is that on a physiological level, drinking can cause low blood glucose, dehydration, increased heart rate, and increased levels of stress. 

How can I calm my anxiety after drinking?

You can calm your anxiety after drinking by practising some breathing techniques, meditating. If anxiety disturbs you after drinking too much, you should meet a therapist.

Can being hungover cause anxiety?

Being hungover can cause anxiety, but not everyone experiences anxiety then, though. Some people have indigestion or feel sick, weak, dizzy.

Is wine good for anxiety?

According to research, red wine contains resveratrol that can treat anxiety and depression. However, researchers say that wine has health risks and can cause addiction.

Will a drink calm my anxiety?

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A drink can calm your anxiety, but if you abuse alcohol or get addicted to it, you can get more anxious and can open a way for an anxiety disorder and other health problems.

Will a glass of wine calm my anxiety?

A glass of red wine will most likely calm your anxiety, making you feel relaxed. So you can drink a cup of red wine at the end of a stressful day, or when you feel down. Just remember that if you abuse alcohol, it can make you addicted and increase anxiety feeling.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we discussed the connection between alcohol and anxiety. We presented what anxiety, its symptoms, side effects of alcohol abuse and treatments for alcohol and anxiety is.

References

  1. Resveratrol
  2. The Risks of Using Alcohol to Relieve Anxiety
  3. “Unwinding” with alcohol
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