So it would seem a new set of terms have been coined for what we used to call ‘The Fears’ or ‘Beer Fears’ and has pitched up in the Daily Wail. Thanks to SWANS for bringing this article to my attention 🙂
Yikes! What DID I say last night? Now that post-party paranoia has a name – meet the women haunted by hangxiety
Amanda Whyte spent her 40th birthday party in April chatting, laughing and dancing with family and her closest friends in a room she’d hired, and decorated for the occasion, at her local village pub.
Later that night, she settled down to sleep feeling happy and loved — confident that her guests had all had a fabulous time.
However, just three hours later, at 3.30am, Amanda, a mother of two, sat bolt upright in bed, her heart thumping and her pulse racing, in the throes of a terrifying panic attack.
‘I was gripped by this intense fear that I’d done or said something dreadful —made an utter show of myself — at my party,’ recalls Amanda.
‘I was convinced that my guests had been appalled, thinking I was mutton dressed as lamb, stumbling around on the dance floor in my high heels.
‘My husband, Ian, sleeps like the dead, but I shook him awake and said ‘Did I act like a complete idiot last night?’
‘He said: ‘No, you were great — now go back to sleep!’
But Amanda knew from bitter experience that she would be unable to calm her thoughts enough to fall back to sleep. Instead, she spent the next four hours playing back her memories of the night in an attempt to figure out what terrible thing she had done or said to her nearest and dearest to leave her feeling so panic-stricken.
When nothing specific sprung to mind, she checked her Facebook and Twitter pages, terrified she had written something offensive, then her phone, to see if she had sent any texts or emails she would bitterly regret.
In fact, Amanda had caused no offence to anyone. But, like many women, whenever she has more than a couple of alcoholic drinks, she spends the following day — sometimes whole weekends — suffering anxiety and paranoia.
So common are these feelings that there are now numerous words to describe them, including ‘hangxiety’ and ‘boozanoia’.
‘The anxiety the following day is so crippling that I’ve stopped accepting invitations to parties and events,’ says Amanda who lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband of eight years, Ian, a management consultant, and their children Sam, six, and Savannah, four.
‘I was made redundant from my job working for an international multi-media company and my colleagues had to drag me along to my own leaving do because I was so terrified of what I call the ‘screaming horrors’ the next day.
‘When one of my close friends turned 40 recently I didn’t want to let her down so I turned up at her party with a present, then left at 8pm so that I wasn’t tempted to have a few drinks and then spend the rest of my weekend in a panic. ‘I haven’t given up drinking entirely, but I just cannot risk it when I’m out in case I’m tempted to have a lethal extra glass.’
‘The feelings of negativity can be so powerful that they lead to panic attacks with physical symptoms sometimes terrifying enough for people to fear they are having a heart attack.’
Alarmingly, for some, instead of being a reason to drink less, this can trigger a dependency on alcohol as it becomes a formula for silencing their inner-critic.
However, according to Dr Robert Patton, an alcohol researcher and lecturer in clinical psychology, a ‘hair of the dog’ is not the answer.Alcohol can inhibit production of the feel good neurotransmitter serotonin, leading to low mood and anxiety.
This is true for Sara Perry, 44, who says that as well as feelings of ‘pure paranoia’, she feels ‘sad and depressed’ the day after she has consumed alcohol.
‘I usually wake at 5am with this vague feeling I have upset somebody or done something I regret and, when I can’t figure out what it is, the anxiety just builds,’ says Sara. ‘It’s like the devil on my shoulder, following me around all day, impossible to shake off.’
Sara, who works in education training in Manchester, says she began suffering from boozanoia in her 30s and believes a couple of factors may have been responsible for triggering it.
A friend with whom she worked in China in her early 30s would have perfect recall of their nights out and remind Sara of things she had done or said, which she often had little or no memory of.
Then, in her late 30s, she rowed with her mother after drinking the best part of a bottle of wine and the upset that followed took a long time to heal. Ever since, Sara has woken after nights out ‘racked with feelings of guilt’.
Dr Derek Lee, a clinical psychologist, says the reason these feelings are so recurrent is that alcohol slows down the nervous system, making us less anxious.
Then, as the alcohol is leaving the body, usually around 3am to 5am, the nervous system cranks back into life and worries can appear more intense than ever.
Mother-of-three Tanya Raven sometimes suffers memory lapses after nights out and, worried that she becomes overly affectionate after more than two drinks, wakes terrified of photographs appearing on Facebook of her flirting with men, other than her husband.
Tanya, 36, a support worker from Nottingham, says husband, Dan, 37, a tee-total personal trainer, can be relied upon for crystal-clear recollections of their nights out together.
‘It usually takes a few hours for me to pluck up courage to ask him, but then he’ll say: “It’s fine. You didn’t do anything embarrassing”.’
Nonetheless, after three boozy parties over the past two months, Tanya cannot face another and plans to decline future invitations.
Dr Robert Patton says that severe anxiety after a night out should be seen as a sign that you’ve overdone it.
‘Alcohol interferes with the part of the brain associated with impulse control so we can end up behaving in ways we wouldn’t sober,’ says Dr Patton. ‘It also causes dehydration, symptoms of which — the shakes, dizziness, confusion — feel like anxiety.’
But, for occasional drinkers, like Amanda, Sara and Tanya — and many more women besides — knowing when to stop to avoid hangxiety is the tricky part.
As a side note I remember Lucy Spraggan on the X-Factor singing brilliantly about this very thing! I cried every time I watched this. 2012 – still drinking and knowing the truth of her words. Lucy if you’ve had enough of the beer fears you know where to find me LOL! 😉
PS Day 700 😀