How alcohol affects your body and brain
Alcohol consumption can have various effects on the body. It can cause changes in heart rate and blood pressure, lead to gastrointestinal issues, cause dehydration, and interfere with sleep. Additionally, alcohol can significantly alter brain chemistry, potentially leading to emotional fluctuations.
Why do some people feel more anxious after drinking than others?
According to Dr. Schacht, individuals who have underlying mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety disorders, may be more prone to experiencing anxiety after consuming alcohol. This is because these mental health issues can change the way the brain functions, making it more susceptible to being affected by alcohol and triggering feelings of anxiety. Dr. Schacht explains that these issues can “shift the brain’s ‘set point’ and make it easier for alcohol to ‘tip’ the brain into anxiety.”
How to prevent and cope with post-drinking anxiety
Treating the physical effects of drinking can help with the mental ones, too, according to Dr. Schacht. Drink water, eat a nourishing meal, take a cat nap, and try to get a good night’s sleep the following evening. All of these self-care strategies can help your body (and mood) recover from a hangover faster, says Dr. Schacht. Because exercise can boost and normalize neurotransmitter activity in the brain, including hangxiety perpetrator GABA, Dr. Schacht also recommends squeezing in some physical activity (maybe a brisk walk or a 10-minute workout)—if your hangover can handle it.