Who does it affect?
If you’ve ever suffered from symptoms of hangxiety you’re not alone. It can affect anyone and is probably more common than you think. A Dutch study of 1400 students, published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, found that nearly half reported agitation the day after drinking. Others reported feelings of confusion, guilt and regret.
Hangxiety can happen sporadically, or every time you drink. Every person is different, and every night out is different. You drink different amounts, eat different foods and quantities, and you may take different medications.
If you already suffer from anxiety, or any other mental health problems, alcohol can worsen your symptoms. If you suffer social anxiety disorder, you may worry heavily about your behaviour while you were drunk; if you have general anxiety disorder you might struggle with sleep and feel extreme stress when the alcohol wears off.
Can you prevent it?
Obviously if you don’t drink alcohol you won’t experience hangxiety! But this may not be realistic. If you suffer from anxiety, or regularly experience the symptoms of hangxiety, consider cutting back on how much, and how often you drink.
When you do drink, consider taking this advice from Drinkwise to lessen the next-day effects of alcohol, including:
- Setting yourself limits and sticking to them
- Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- Drink slowly
- Try drinks with a lower alcohol content
- Have something to eat while or before you have an alcoholic drink
- Dilute your alcoholic drink by adding water or ice
Also remember, if you’re taking any medications for your mental or physical health, alcohol and other drugs can reduce their effectiveness, and increase their side effects.
What to do
There’s no way to stop it straight away, but if you wake up feeling anxious and overwhelmed beyondblue recommend the following:
- Slow breathing - In for three, out for three; in for three, out for three
- Challenge your self-talk
- Try to take yourself out of your head and think rationally about your actions. It’s probably not as bad as you think.
- Exercise - Even though it’s probably the last thing you feel like doing, even going for a walk gets you up, active and out of the house.
If you find your hangxiety is regularly lasting longer than a day, or increasing in intensity, go and see a GP.
If you’re experiencing anxiety frequently, even if you haven’t been drinking, make sure to make an appointment with a GP. And to learn more about anxiety and the effects of alcohol, visit beyondblue.
If you think you or someone you know might have a problem with alcohol dependency, talk to your doctor, visit DrinkWise, or call your state/territory alcohol and drug helpline.
Want to know more about how alcohol and drugs really affect you? Read about the main health issues impacting young Aussies at medibank.com.au/adultish.