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What is Hangxiety? Coping and Preventing Hangover Anxiety

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 78.5% of people have consumed alcohol at some point in their lives.

While occasional alcohol use is fine, some people have a hard time controlling how much they drink. Drinking in excess can lead to an array of issues, including hangovers, health concerns from alcohol abuse, and even addiction.

One of the common consequences of drinking too much is something referred to as hangover anxiety or “hangxiety.” If you wake up feeling anxious after a night out drinking, you’ve experienced this phenomenon. Post-drinking anxiety can be difficult to cope with and is usually combined with traditional symptoms of a hangover, such as headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

While many people have experienced hangover anxiety before, you might be wondering if it indicates a problem with alcohol. If you are repeatedly experiencing hangxiety, you might be dealing with an alcohol use disorder. In that case, you should seek help from an alcohol rehab program.

Understanding “Hangxiety”

Hangover anxiety occurs when you drink in excess the night before, leading to a hangover accompanied by feelings of anxiety.

There are a few reasons why you might experience anxiety after drinking alcohol. First, alcohol triggers the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor, which is what causes you to feel relaxed when you drink. Additionally, alcohol shuts off glutamate in your brain, which is a stress hormone that can cause anxiety to occur.

Once you stop drinking, you have less GABA and more glutamate circling through your brain. When these processes are combined, it creates a recipe for anxiety to occur.

You might be more prone to hangxiety than others, depending on your specific brain chemistry. If you already have an anxiety disorder like social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), hangover anxiety might be more pronounced.

How to Cope With Anxiety After Drinking

If drinking alcohol is leaving you feeling anxious the next morning, you might be wondering how to cope with it. While you should pause all alcohol consumption once you notice it leads to anxiety, it’s also important to understand how to deal with it when it occurs.

Tips for coping with post-alcohol anxiety include:

  • Drink a lot of water to rehydrate your body
  • Consider drinking something that includes electrolytes
  • Get plenty of rest, as being sleep-deprived will only contribute to anxiety
  • Distract yourself from the anxiety by engaging in a calming activity, like taking a bath or reading
  • Use mindfulness techniques to soothe feelings of stress
  • Do not drink more alcohol, as this will only increase feelings of anxiety later on
  • Avoid stimulant drugs or caffeine, as these substances lead to feelings of anxiety
  • Reach out to a friend who can support you through your anxiety symptoms

Coping with anxiety during a hangover can be difficult, especially if you are already dealing with traditional symptoms like vomiting and headaches. Thankfully, there are ways to cope with anxiety naturally, including hydrating yourself, getting some rest, and practicing self-care.

Can You Prevent Hangxiety?

The only surefire way to prevent hangxiety is to avoid drinking alcohol. That being said, if you must drink, there are some things you can do to lessen your chances of next morning anxiety.

First, you should adhere to drinking guidelines to avoid excessive alcohol consumption. According to the CDC, you should limit your drinking to 2 drinks in a day or less for men and 1 drink in a day for women.

Other ways to prevent hangover anxiety include:

  • Drinking water in between each alcoholic drink you consume
  • Sip alcohol instead of drinking it quickly
  • Eat before, during, and after drinking
  • Avoid spirits and drink beer or wine instead
  • Slow your drinking to a comfortable pace instead of keeping up with your friends
  • Set limits on how much you’ll drink before you go out
  • Remember that it is okay to say no to a drink once you’ve had enough

The effects of alcohol can last into the next day if you consume too much. If you are having a hard time controlling your alcohol intake, it might be time to evaluate your relationship with alcohol. Not being able to moderate how much alcohol you drink is a sign of alcoholism.

When Does Hangover Anxiety Indicate a Problem With Alcohol?

If you are experiencing hangxiety frequently, you might have a problem with alcohol. The more often you deal with the negative effects of alcohol, the more likely it is that you are suffering from an alcohol use disorder. Being aware of the signs can help you determine whether it’s time for alcohol addiction treatment.

The signs of alcohol use disorder include:

  • Drinking more or longer than you intended to
  • Wanting to cut back on or stop drinking but being unsuccessful
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from the effects of alcohol
  • Wanting a drink so badly you cannot think of anything else
  • Finding that drinking interferes with your ability to meet responsibilities at home, school, or work
  • Continuing to drink despite facing relationship or social issues
  • Giving up activities that were important to you to continue drinking
  • Getting into risky situations while drinking, such as driving under the influence
  • Continuing to drink despite facing mental health issues like hangover anxiety
  • Needing to drink more alcohol to experience the effect you want
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol wears off

If you experience 2 to 3 symptoms, you have a mild alcohol use disorder. 4 to 5 symptoms are indicative of moderate alcoholism, while 6 symptoms mean you have a severe alcohol use disorder.

No matter the severity of your alcoholism, you should always seek professional help. Alcohol rehab programs can help you regain control over your life and achieve long-lasting sobriety.

Finding Help for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

If you or a loved one suffers from alcoholism, it’s time to seek help. At South Carolina Addiction Treatment Center, we offer a combination of individual therapy, group counseling, and relapse prevention planning. These services will help you maintain sobriety from alcohol long-term.

Contact us today to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment center.