A hangover the morning after a night of drinking is never enjoyable. Most hangover symptoms for people include a headache, weariness, thirst, or nausea. However, some people also claim to experience “hangxiety,” or worry when recovering from a hangover. According to some estimates, anxiety during a hangover can range in severity and affects about 12% of people.
A hangover induces physiological stress when the body recovers from a night of drinking. Physiological stress often occurs when the body is under pressure, such as from an illness or accident. The effects of a hangover are similar. In addition to altering our immune system, it also raises cortisol levels, popularly known as the “stress hormone,” blood pressure, and heart rate—alterations that also occur with worry.
Changes also occur in the brain. According to research, dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is less active in the brain during a hangover. This is significant because dopamine regulates anxiety powerfully.
It’s interesting that stress and lack of sleep, which can mimic the effects of a hangover, can cause reductions in mood and cognitive ability (including attention and memory). Daily duties can be challenging to manage because of fatigue, worry, and other unpleasant hangover symptoms. For instance, a person suffering from a hangover can be too focused on working on their nausea, headache, or weariness to manage worrisome thoughts properly.
According to research, those who are emotionally changed negatively by a hangover. In addition, several said they felt less able to control their emotions than when they were not inebriated. In other words, people have terrible feelings and difficulty getting back up after a hangover.
However, when participants are asked to control their emotions in a computer activity, they could do so to a similar amount as when they aren’t drunk, albeit with more effort. Some people’s anxiousness during a hangover may also be due to having more trouble controlling their emotions.
In a different study, a group examined the effects of hangovers on mental abilities such as working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control, all of which are crucial for many parts of daily living. These cognitive abilities were put to the test by giving participants a variety of tasks, such as remembering a string of letters and recalling it when asked.
Negative life experiences, drinking-related melancholy or rage, drinking-related guilt, and even particular personality qualities (such as neuroticism) are all connected to mood swings after a hangover.
It was shown that drunk people performed worse on important cognitive tasks that aid in anxiety management and block intrusive thoughts. It may assist in understanding why some people experience anxiety if their mental abilities are impaired while intoxicated. What causes some people to have concern while not others?
Every hangover includes some level of pain, whether it is a headache or muscle aches. However, studies have found that those who “catastrophise” their suffering are more likely to feel anxious. This group is more prone to have severe hangovers, according to research. This may help to explain why some individuals struggle with anxiety while others do not.
Those who are predisposed to anxiousness may also be more vulnerable to anxiety. In addition to adverse life events, drinking-related despair or rage, drinking-related guilt, and even specific personality features are all connected to mood swings after a hangover. Even those who claim to be extremely shy have been found to have more excellent rates of anxiety, which may be related to signs of alcohol use disorder.
Together, these elements show how anxiety differs from person to person and why it’s an aspect of hangovers that should be taken seriously. In addition to being unpleasant, mood swings associated with a hangover have been linked to problematic drinking, increased interpersonal conflict, and decreased productivity at work.
The same methods that reduce anxiety will also be helpful if you suffer from anxiety. This may entail self-care, mindfulness training, and meditation. The next day free to recover and avoid other stressors (such as job or family issues) before your night out will help you deal with the added psychological tension.
Some people even utilize a hangover as a chance to bond, talk about their previous drinking session, and even cope with their anxieties together. Of course, abstaining from alcohol altogether, or at least drinking sparingly, is the best method to prevent developing hangxiety.
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