9 Signs Alcohol Is Giving You Anxiety Or Making It Worse
Drinking can be fun, but it can also come with some negative consequences. Some of these side effects can hurt our physical health, but others can also affect us mentally. If you find that your mood shifts after a night of drinking, you may be exhibiting some signs that alcohol is giving you anxiety. You may not even realize that your drinking is related to your anxiety, but you might be surprised to find out how much alcohol can effect how you feel, not only right after you drink, but even days later.
"It’s not uncommon for people to relax or want to unwind with a glass of wine or a beer," says Kim Raby, LMHC over email. "Alcohol is a sedative and a depressant and as a result, can have a calming and relaxing effect. However, alcohol is also a toxin that can wreak havoc on the body, both psychologically and physically. It changes levels of serotonin and affects neurotransmitters in the brain. This can not only create symptoms of anxiety, but can worse any anxiety disorder someone may already have."
If you suffer from anxiety and think it may be from drinking, pay attention to these nine signs that alcohol is giving you anxiety.
1. You Worry About What You Did The Night Before
"We have all made mistakes socially from time to time, but overindulging with alcohol can lead to waking up the next day overly worried or fearful about what you said or did the night before," says Raby. "For example, did you really need to text that ex from 5 years ago?"
2. You Have Panic Attacks
"When anxiety culminates without any real outlet or healthy stress relief, often the result is a panic attack," says Raby. "Drinking is not a healthy outlet so as anxiety increases, panic attacks may result." Alcohol itself can also induce panic attacks.
3. You Do Things When You Drink That Create Anxiety
Engaging in risky behaviors that you wouldn't otherwise can cause anxiety. "You tend to do things when you drink that create anxiety," says Helen Odessky, Psy.D. over email. "For example, having unprotected sex and then worrying about contracting a sexually transmitted infection."
4. You Blackout And Obsess Over What Happened
Obsessing about drinking and what you do while drinking is another sign that alcohol is giving you anxiety. "This includes being unable to remember parts of what happens when you drink and then spending time obsessing about what happened," says Odessky. "Drinking this much definitely creates anxiety and is a health concern as well."
5. You Spend Too Much Money When Partying
"Another sign is if you spend more money when drinking than you intend and then worry about your finances the next day," says Odessky. Financial issues already cause stress, but if you're making it worse by going crazy when drinking, it could be exacerbating your anxiety.
6. You Keep Worrying You Drink Too Much
If you're constantly worrying about your drinking habits, you may subconsciously realize it's causing you anxiety. "If it’s on your mind frequently, you’re probably anxious that you are drinking too much," says Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW over email.
7. You Spend A Lot Of Time Researching
"You obsessively research articles that talk about the health risks of alcohol, trying to come up with one definitive answer that applies to you," says Koenig. "Again, you do this because you’re anxious that you may be drinking too much."
8. You Hide Your Drinking From Your Friends
"You keep it secret from friends and families how much you drink because you think you might be overdoing it," says Koenig. "You’re anxious because of what they might think about you but also about what you think of yourself."
9. Your Tolerance Has Gone Up
Drinking with anxiety creates a vicious cycle. "You drink, you feel relaxed, and then once the alcohol wears off, your anxiety comes right back up," says Raby. "Maybe you start to drink more to get that same effect, but in the end it’s a losing battle since the same medicating behavior is also what may be worsening your anxiety."