Does alcohol increases anxiety?
Alcohol abuse and anxiety seem to go hand in hand in developing a co-occurring disorder that unfortunately could develop into causing severe mental distress and impairing your daily routine. Alcohol abuse has been medically proven to exacerbate an already existing anxiety disorder, further new and worse anxiety symptoms can develop. Additionally, severe anxiety symptoms can lead individuals to alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, individuals will often end up in a negative cycle, which becomes almost impossible to get off unless there is medical intervention.
Alcohol is an unhealthy and temporary way to relieve your anxiety symptoms and forget your underlying stresses. However, abusing alcohol will not remove the anxious feelings; if anything, the toxic substance will trigger or develop other anxious symptoms, resulting in the individual attempting to drink more to curb the results of anxiety.
Everyone at some point within their lives will experience a form of anxiety. It is an entirely normal feeling when dealing with a tense situation or a rather stressful day. Grabbing a glass of wine after work to destress is an everyday activity that millions of adults participate in. However, drinking alcohol every night or drinking heavily to deal with your anxiety will end up increasing your anxious symptoms.
If you are heavily drinking every night for an extended period, your mental and physical health can suffer greatly. Having a small drink now and again is not a problem, but if you are beginning to rely on the alcohol to calm you, you are doing more harm to yourself than good.
How alcohol will worsen your anxiety
Drinking alcohol will change the serotonin levels and neurotransmitters within your brain, which inevitability will worsen your anxiety. Once the alcohol begins to wear off, your anxious feelings will often worsen. Alcohol-induced anxiety has the potential to last for several hours or even the entire day after drinking. If you use alcohol to cope with anxiety disorders, it can be extremely dangerous. According to the American Anxiety and Depression Association, roughly 7% of Americans suffer from social anxiety. These individuals will usually use alcohol to gain the courage to be within a social setting; otherwise, they can find the situations unbearable. However, using alcohol as a release to deal with social interactions can very often make your symptoms worse and encourage you to drink more and more every time you want to go out. About 20% of Americans who suffer from social anxiety additionally suffer from substance abuse.
Besides using alcohol to feel comfortable within a social environment, other signs of substance dependency can include:
- Requiring a drink at every single social event
- Drinking heavily for four or more days throughout the week
- Requiring drinking before starting the day that may involve social interaction
- Drinking five or more acholic beverages within one day
The consequences of drinking heavily will lead to a hangover, something we most likely have all experienced. A hangover can make you feel more anxious then you originally were before you started drinking. Furthermore, you can experience:
- Low blood sugar
- Stomach cramps
Triggers of anxiety and coping mechanisms
There are a variety of past and current life events that can trigger an individual, which will lead them to develop a form of anxiety. Furthermore, lifestyle factors can as well develop anxiety symptoms. These can include but are not limited to:
- Too much coffee
- Drug addiction to cocaine and amphetamines
- Substance abuse
- Physical health issues, in particular, chronic or life conditions
- Side effects of medication
- Mental health disorders such as depression
- Life stressors such as money issues, bullying, family trauma
All of these triggers for anxiety can be overcome with either medication, therapy, or a combination of both.
Alcohol is not an anxiety treatment
Using alcohol to treat your anxiety symptoms is never a good move. The likelihood of your anxious feelings becoming worse is increased significantly. Furthermore, the possibility of developing a co-occurring disorder has also increased considerably. If you are struggling with anxiety or substance abuse, you will need to seek medical, mental health treatment right away to prevent your symptoms from worsening.
Here at Shoreline Sober Living, we have a variety of treatments that will be uniquely designed to reduce your anxiety levels and substance abuse. We are professionally trained to teach you the skills you or a loved one needs to cope with life’s struggles without feeling overwhelmed or needing to drink.
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