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Link Between Alcohol and Anxiety

Graphics show the connection between alcohol and anxiety

Among the hustle and bustle of daily life, you might find certain situations trigger anxiety symptoms. You may feel distressed or uneasy, similar to the stress response while taking a test or in a crowded room. However, these sensations are temporary.

People who suffer from anxiety feel this way to the point that it affects their daily life. People who suffer from anxiety might self-medicate with one or two glasses of alcohol to alleviate its symptoms. 

However, it is an unhealthy coping mechanism, and it is essential that you recognize the side effects of alcohol on your personal and social life.

You can recover from your addiction by getting residential treatment at The Haven Detox-South Florida. 

Key Takeaways

Alcohol consumption can cause or worsen anxiety disorder symptoms.

Learn about the correlation between alcohol and anxiety to keep your drinking habits from leading to alcohol dependence. 

  • The overwhelming feeling of fear and nervousness characterizes anxiety disorder.
  • Individuals dealing with anxiety cannot control their response in stressful conditions.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can cause mood swings and anxiety because it imbalances neurotransmitter (serotonin and GABA) levels in the brain.
  • People with anxiety are likely to consume alcohol to cope with its symptoms.
  • Anti-anxiety medications can interact with alcohol, which can cause severe side effects.

If you are struggling with alcohol use disorder and looking for a treatment facility, you can talk to the medical experts at The Haven Detox-South Florida. Our counselors are available 24/7 to answer your questions at (561)328-8627.

Anxiety Disorders

It is normal to experience some anxiety; for instance, you may feel nervous if you have to deal with a problem at work or if you are going to an interview. Feeling anxious before starting a test or delivering a presentation is quite beneficial.

Anxiety can help us deal with challenging situations and focus on a specific task. However, when you respond to non-threatening circumstances with fear and shock, then this could be a sign of anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that causes you to respond to everyday things or conditions with extreme terror.

People with anxiety disorder experience nervousness for an extended period of time. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19.1 percent of adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. 

Severe anxiety symptoms make it difficult for you to live a satisfying life and affect your health. 

You have an anxiety disorder if:

  • You overreact in certain situations or when something triggers your emotions.
  • Anxiety makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks like leaving your house to buy groceries.
  • You are unable to control your negative thoughts and responses in specific situations.

Five Major Types of Anxiety Disorders

Following are the types of anxiety disorder:

  • People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience severe tension and exaggerated nervousness that even a minor incident provokes. Sometimes it is triggered when there is nothing to be anxious or worried about.
  • Panic disorder is a type of anxiety in which an individual experiences repeated episodes of extreme fear. During such episodes, an individual will have an irregular heart rate, chest pain, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common type of anxiety disorder in which people repeat actions or behaviors such as repeatedly washing hands, cleaning, or checking the doors before bed.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops when you go through a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, sweating, shaking, panic attacks, and vivid flashbacks.
  • Social anxiety disorder causes individuals to be uncomfortable speaking or eating in front of others. It is triggered whenever they are not in their comfort zone or surrounded by other people.

Relation Between Alcohol and Anxiety

Alcohol is an addictive depressant drug that causes anxiety. People consume alcoholic beverages to alleviate anxiety symptoms.

If you have anxiety and drink alcohol, you might be unaware of the impact of alcohol consumption on anxiety and how it can worsen its symptoms. Sadly, people still believe that alcohol can help them manage stress, which is a common misinterpretation.

Drinking too much alcohol will cause you to experience mood swings when the sedative effects of alcohol wear off. People with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are more likely to drink when they remember traumatic events.

Sedative effects make them forget for a while. They will often consume alcohol, and this habit is their coping mechanism. Such individuals are at risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). 

Due to AUD, their brain’s functioning is altered, and the symptoms of PTSD will get worse with time.

Binge drinkers with no mental disorder are prone to develop depression or anxiety at some point in their lives. When alcoholics try to quit alcohol without medical assistance, they will feel more anxious and may drink again to overcome withdrawal symptoms.

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Excessive sweating.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Vomiting.
  • Nausea.
  • Seizures.
  • Shaking hands.
  • Shivers.

Alcohol Causes Anxiety

Alcohol acts directly on the central nervous system and makes you feel good because it increases the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in your brain.

This neurotransmitter causes you to feel relaxed and confident and puts you in a good mood. That is why people misuse alcohol to experience such sensations.

According to the NIAA, around 85.6 percent reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives in 2019. People who drink alcohol are at risk of developing a mental illness; the combination of alcoholism and mental illness is a co-occurring disorder.

Heavy drinking causes not only physical but also physiological changes in your brain. When you drink any alcoholic beverage, it causes an inflow of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and harms the production of serotonin.

Serotonin and GABA work together to regulate your mood and anxiety. Alcohol disrupts this balance and makes its users experience calmness for a short time.

The effects of alcohol are similar to anti-anxiety medication, and users might mix them together to amplify its tranquilizing effect. 

Long-term use of addictive drugs leads to substance use disorder and chronic health issues such as kidney or liver problems. Individuals who drink alcohol to overcome anxiety can experience symptoms such as hangxiety.

Hangxiety is not a formal diagnosis; you may go through it a day after heavy drinking. Individuals experience hangover symptoms along with the feeling of shame. They may not remember the events that occurred when they were intoxicated.

A person with anxiety is trapped in a loop in which they repeatedly drink alcohol. 

You may be addicted to alcohol and have anxiety if you:

  • Drink alcohol.
  • Feel relaxed and less anxious.
  • Try to reduce or stop alcohol and relapse due to withdrawal symptoms.

If you or a close friend is going through such a condition, they might need the help of doctors at The Haven Detox-South Florida. We offer medical detox with 24/7 medical supervision and IV therapy sessions that reduce the risk of relapse.

Anxiety Medications and Alcohol

Many people are unaware of the dangers of combining anti-anxiety medications with alcohol. Anti-anxiety medications are beneficial in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.

However, misusing this drug does not cure anxiety, and an individual may develop a physical dependence on them. Combining anti-anxiety drugs with alcohol will intensify its side effects which can put your life at risk. 

Avoid mixing the following medications with alcohol:

Benzodiazepine

Doctors or healthcare professionals prescribe benzodiazepine to treat chronic anxiety. Benzodiazepine acts on the brain’s neural pathways and reduces stress. 

Benzodiazepines are available under the brand names Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Librium. However, it can cause undesirable side effects.

Mixing it with alcohol can cause short-term memory loss, cognitive impairment, slurred speech, and agitation.

When you mix two drugs that impact your central nervous system’s functioning, you are at risk for overdose. Drug overdose can cause brain damage because of a lack of oxygen.

Buspar

Buspar or buspirone is an anxiolytic. Doctors prescribe this drug as a short-term treatment to manage anxiety symptoms. People with alcohol dependence should avoid taking Buspar because this combination can cause impaired muscular control and memory problems.

You are likely to feel sluggish and lightheaded. 

Other side effects of this interaction include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Stomach problems.
  • Vomiting.
  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.

Beta Blockers

Doctors typically advise against drinking alcohol while taking beta-blockers. Beta-blockers lower blood pressure by lowering the heart rate, and alcohol also reduces your blood pressure.

So, when you mix the two, there is a chance that your blood pressure will drop abnormally low, a condition known as hypotension. 

Due to low blood pressure, you will experience the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Fainting.

Alcohol abuse can disrupt the functioning of medications and reverse its effect. If you want to overcome addiction, seek help and guidance from a healthcare professional who can suggest treatment programs and join support groups.

SSRI

They function by elevating particular neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin. Serotonin levels influence a person’s mood.

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are common antidepressants. SSRIs are marketed under the trade names like Lexapro and are used to treat chronic anxiety.

Antidepressant drugs may not function if you drink. Drinking can worsen depressive symptoms and make it more challenging to deal with them. 

Alcohol can temporarily elevate mood, but people using antidepressants should avoid taking this risk, which can lead to long-term issues.

Treatment for Anxiety and Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol use can affect your daily life and cause you to experience negative feelings due to alcohol-induced anxiety. Various treatment options are available to treat substance addiction and mental health disorders. 

Residential treatment offers 24/7 care in a care facility. Outpatient treatment programs are perfect for you if you have a busy lifestyle and can manage alcohol cravings outside the facility. 

The most effective treatment for alcohol addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is offered at The Haven Detox-South Florida.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can drinking alcohol cause anxiety?

Dopamine rushes into the brain when you consume alcohol. It raises the serotonin hormone, and you experience the euphoric effect of alcohol. After a while, dopamine levels drop again, and anxiety symptoms return.Binge drinking causes physiological alterations. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) enters the brain as you drink, making you feel peaceful and at ease. Drinking is addictive; thus, quitting causes withdrawal issues.
Your body becomes dependent on using addictive drugs, and when it is absent, you will experience sudden signs of anxiety.
When you consume more than a moderate amount of alcohol, it disrupts your circadian rhythm. Such circumstances aggravate your mental disorder, such as depression or anxiety.

How do you calm down from alcohol anxiety?

A glass of wine or beer may help you stay calm when dealing with stress and fear, but you will likely experience a severe anxiety attack. In such conditions, there are healthy ways to calm yourself down without using alcohol.When you feel anxious, slowly breathe in and out and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Count from one to ten and repeat it until you feel calm again.
Concentrate on something that makes you feel happy and positive.
To reduce anxiety, try to get six to eight hours of sleep and limit the use of alcohol or caffeine. Eat healthy food and meditate every day. Such habits help overcome anxiety disorder and alcohol-related anxiety.

Does alcohol help with anxiety?      

Alcohol is known for its soothing effects and calms your nerves down in a few minutes. Many people with anxiety drink alcohol because it is an easy way to treat anxiety. It numbs their senses and prevents them from feeling fear or stress. It gives a boost in social situations, and you will feel confident.However, it is not a long-term remedy and impacts your vital organs, especially your brain and liver. Alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle. It is best to avoid alcohol when you are dealing with mental health issues and seek assistance from a medical professional.

The Haven Detox-South Florida Understands Anxiety

Drinking alcohol to cope with anxiety is an unhealthy way to cure mental illness, and you will likely develop alcoholism. If you or your loved one feel lost while dealing with addiction and anxiousness, there is a way to start a journey toward recovery today.

At The Haven Detox, we understand that addiction impacts you physically, mentally, and emotionally. That is why our residential rehab is designed to make you feel relaxed with 24-hour support and care.

During alcohol and substance detox, our priority is to make them feel comfortable and offer them therapies to prevent relapse. Our facility welcomes veterans and provides a veteran program to help them deal with PTSD and substance addiction. 

If you are interested in learning more about our services, give us a call at (561)328–8627.

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