This post is triggered by an article I read called ‘The Weird Reason Why Drinking Alcohol Can Make You Feel Anxious the Next Day’.
This is what the article said:
Whenever I drink alcohol, I feel anxious the next day. Why?
You know the bodily symptoms of a hangover: fatigue, headache, and nausea. But anxiety and other mood problems (like irritability or feeling down) are also pretty common effects of drinking. For some people, these can be intense: If you have panic disorder, for example, heavy imbibing can trigger a panic attack, complete with shortness of breath and chest pain.
What gives? As your body removes the alcohol from your system, two things happen: Your blood sugar drops (because your body is diverting energy to excreting the booze rather than maintaining healthy glucose levels) and inflammation kicks in. Studies link the latter to mood changes and memory issues; an uptick in inflammatory chemicals can affect your nervous system. And low blood sugar can lead to feelings of nervousness.
Finally, because alcohol famously lowers your inhibitions, you might also be worried about your actions from the night before.
The best advice is to stick to one drink and never have more than two in one night. You can also try drinking water in between your cocktails.
But it got me thinking about rebound anxiety that is also experience with drinking and I think it is partly fuelled by this physiological explanation but that doesn’t take account of the psychological symptoms.
The term rebound anxiety is nearly always used to refer to the difficulties many people have when attempting to withdraw from certain medications prescribed for anxiety. It is defined as ‘the relative worsening of symptoms on discontinuation of treatment as compared to baseline symptoms’.
But many of us self-medicated our anxiety with booze. Ergo we suffer the same effects of withdrawing from booze as someone does if withdrawing from anti-anxiety meds. For me this is confirmed by the fact that anxiety meds are used during a medical detox from alcohol as a way to manage the unpleasant symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. I also know that managing a medical detox for someone who is addicted to both alcohol and anxiety medication is the most difficult and dangerous detox to manage.
So we all suffer rebound anxiety when we stop drinking to some lesser or greater extent. As the Health Central piece about rebound anxiety concludes:
Recovery is a process and it is one that can’t be rushed. The goals need to quite modest and always attainable. Sometimes there will be days when all progress appears to have been lost, but overall, the two-steps forward and sometimes one-back approach is part of the deal, which people need to be aware of. The motivation to get better however is hugely important.