What is hangxiety and how do I get rid of it?

If you’ve experienced anxiety while nursing a hangover after a night out drinking, there’s term for that – hangxiety. Here are some tips on how to prevent and stop hangxiety.

Written by Medibank

If you’ve ever woken up after a big night and felt a sense of dread, you could be suffering from ‘hangxiety’, a hangover with anxiety. The good news is there are things you can do to stop it happening again. 


A couple embracing and laughing

What is hangxiety?

Hangxiety isn’t a formal term or diagnosis, but many of us know the feeling. It’s waking up after a big night of drinking and experiencing a hangover with heightened feelings of shame and anxiety. We may find ourselves fearfully scrolling through text messages and social media as we try to put the pieces from last night together.  

What causes hangxiety?

When we drink alcohol the chemical balance in our brain changes. This can influence how we think, feel, and make decisions. Alcohol increases our inhibitory neurotransmitters and the release of dopamine, which is why many of us feel relaxed and happy after a drink or two. The flip side is, once the effect wears off the next morning, the brain is working hard to correct itself to its usual chemical balance, which is what can cause feelings of anxiety.  

Who is most affected by hangxiety?

Hangxiety can affect everyone differently. Based on research looking at the link between anxiety and alcohol use, things like an individual’s tolerance for drinking, anxious or aggressive tendencies, or mental health, can impact someone’s anxiety more severely after drinking. What’s more, people with anxiety may be inclined to drink more due to the relaxing effects of alcohol. This can be particularly true for people who experience mild social anxiety. The downside is, once the effects of the alcohol wear off, that initial anxiety could feel even more acute after drinking. 

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How to prevent hangxiety

If you’re regularly experiencing anxiety or hangxiety, consider cutting back on how much, and how often, you drink. Here are a few things you can do: 

  • Set yourself limits.
  • Alternate between an alcoholic drink and a glass of water. 
  • Drink slowly.
  • Consume lower-alcohol-content drinks.
  • Eat while or before drinking.
  • Dilute your drinks with water or ice.

Remember, if you’re taking any medications, alcohol can reduce their effectiveness, and increase their side effects. 

How to get rid of hangxiety

It’s important to remember you’re not alone in feeling hangxiety. If you wake up feeling anxious and overwhelmed, here are some things you can do to calm yourself. 

  • Take slow deep breaths to help slow your heartbeat and relax.
  • Challenge your inner voice and try to think rationally about your actions – it’s probably not as bad as you think.
  • Resist junk food and eat something more wholesome that will help your body recover faster.
  • Move your body, even if it’s just a short walk or plunging into a pool, to get you up and out of the house.
  • Learn from your past experiences to avoid feeling like this again – set limits or take a break from the booze. 

These strategies can also help you start to reduce your own baseline anxiety if you identify that as an issue for you. If you’re experiencing anxiety frequently, or if you are concerned about your relationship with alcohol or alcohol use, talk to your GP about more strategies.

If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol dependency, there are support services available:

Visit Medibank Better Minds to learn more about managing anxiety and other mental health conditions. 

24/7 Mental Health Phone Support

Members with Hospital cover can talk with a mental health professional over the phone in relation to any mental health or emotional concern, 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 1800 644 325~.

Read more about anxiety

Looking for something else?

Visit our Better Minds hub to find more tools and services.

Things you need to know

Not available for members with extras only cover, Overseas Student Health Cover or Overseas Workers or Visitors Health Cover.

~ OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).