The Relationship Between Alcohol and Anxiety

The Relationship Between Alcohol and Anxiety

Last Updated: Tue, January 23, 2024

Before getting into the bulk of the topic, we need to understand anxiety first. Anxiety is more common these days than ever before, and it's because it's much more openly talked about and recognized as a mental disease. Anxiety is a real thing, and it can be easy to ease your anxiety with a glass of wine or a cold beer. But is that the best way to deal with your anxious feelings?

It's no surprise that when we consume alcohol, our feelings can change, and a lot happens when we reach a certain level. Alcohol changes your levels of serotonin as well as other parts of your brain. The more alcohol in your system, the more these levels, and parts change. If you deal with anxiety, you know that something inside your brain is already slightly off, and adding alcohol doesn't make it better; it makes it worse.

There are various kinds of anxieties you can deal with. Still, it's important to fully understand how exactly alcohol affects your anxiety, as well as see what positive changes can be made in your life if you decide to cut alcohol out of your life finally.

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Anxiety

1.     Anxiety hangover

It's no surprise that if you drink too much alcohol in a night, you will be hungover and dehydrated the following day. But if you deal with anxiety as well, you will likely experience anxiety hangovers. What is this exactly? Well, when you feel anxious, you just want to curl up in your bed? Well, add that feeling and combine it with a hangover, and your need to lay in bed and do nothing gets worse. Hangovers tend to make us feel dizzy, shaky, or sick to our stomachs, and these kinds of feelings can trigger anxious feelings, making your anxiety worse than before. 

2.     Decrease serotonin levels

Serotonin is the hormone in our bodies that give us feelings of being happy. And when we consume alcohol, our levels of serotonin are significantly reduced. We know that sometimes people get happy when they have a couple of drinks, but once your buzz goes away, so do all your happy serotonin hormones. When people wake up after a day of drinking, especially if they deal with anxiety daily, they tend to feel worse than before they started drinking the night before. So while we think we are drinking to make ourselves happy, we are doing the exact opposite, and making it even worse, we are increasing our levels of anxiety when our buzz goes away. 

3.     Short-term memory loss

How many times have you woken up the night after drinking, and you can't remember what happened? Don't worry, we've all been there, but we definitely didn't enjoy that feeling. Not remembering what happened, what was said, or maybe where you went can cause severe feelings of anxiety. As humans, we like to feel in control of our bodies and actions, so waking up not knowing everything you did the previous night can be scary. If you are already a nervous person, drinking to the point of causing yourself short-term memory loss will only make you feel even more nervous. Were those couple of hours of being drunk really worth your nervousness? 

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4.     Developing alcohol dependency

If you rely on alcohol to get you through certain social situations, you may have an alcohol dependency. Dependency is a never-ending cycle, so if you get invited to an event or a night out, and the first thing you think about is getting drunk, that is an issue. People with anxiety often never feel relaxed and at ease, especially in social situations. So, if you find that the only way you can be calm and enjoy being in a social situation is by having a couple of drinks in you, it's time to assess your situation and maybe find another way to cope. 

5.     Sleep issues

It's no surprise that you have an easy time coming home and passing out when you are drunk. But do you notice that you don't sleep soundly after a night of drinking? Most people toss and turn all night when they fall asleep drunk, and that's not even the worst part. The worst part is that you most likely won't feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning. Sleeping is the one time that our bodies must recover from the day, and when you're drunk, it takes a lot more for your body to recoup. Meaning, you may sleep for longer, but you aren't getting good quality sleep, and it can ruin your sleep cycle for the following days. 

Positive Changes You'll See in Your Life after Quitting

If you're thinking it's finally time to make a change in your lifestyle, cutting out alcohol is a huge step, and we are so proud of you! Quitting isn't easy, but once you see all the good it will bring into your life, you'll be happy you made that decision.

When you decide to quit alcohol, your entire body will thank you. One of the biggest positive changes you will see in your life after quitting is a healthier heart. Your heart experiences a lot of wear and tear when you are intoxicated, and it has to work a lot harder to keep your blood and body running. If you cut out alcohol, your heart won't have to work as hard as it once did.

Another significant positive change you will see in your life is better relationships. If you have a problem with alcohol, it can cause more than just health issues, and it can cause issues with the relationships you have with your partner, your family, and your friends. 

Lastly, your mental health will increase instantly. Gone are the days of your feelings of anxiety getting worse! When you decide to quit alcohol, your body will show you that quitting was the right decision! 

If you or someone you know is dealing with an issue with alcohol, don't ever be afraid to reach out for help! Being sober is hard, but I Am Sober is here for you every step of the way! See how our app can help you reach your sobriety goals today! 

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