What’s the deal with hangxiety?

‘Hangxiety’, ‘beer fear’, ‘booze blues’, whatever you refer to it as, we all know that feeling. That awful feeling of dread as you wake up from your slumber and try to piece together the evenings events with blurred memories of slurred conversations and feelings of regret! And it doesn’t just stop there, those feelings can last for days with vague memories creeping into your mind at any second making you ask yourself, was it really worth it!?

In this blog, we talk through how one too many of those innocent looking cocktails can affect the mind and what is really causing that ‘day after the night before’ anxiety. 

Alcohol impacts upon the gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) pathway and receptor which fires messages through the brain and nervous system to inhibit activity in nerve cells (try saying that when you’ve had a few too many). It essentially calms the brain and aids us with motor control, memory and anxiety alongside relaxing us and makes us a little more jovial….

Whilst this sounds fantastic, this is just the start. By the time we’ve had a few more drinks, other effects start to take place. Glutamate, the main excitatory transmitter, that makes us less anxious, is blocked and we become less inhibited and more likely to make irrational decisions that, when sober, you’d never normally make *glances at the traffic cone in the corner of the room from the last pre-lockdown night out*.

This creates an imbalance in the brain that our body desperately seeks to rectify. Your body begins to over produce glutamate when we stop drinking causing a spike in our main excitatory transmitter and creating lots of “chatter” that leads to anxiety and in some serious cases, even seizures. Ever had that really long hangover, over a day or two where things just don’t feel right? That’s just your body not quite balancing that delicate chemical see-saw.

During this period, you don’t often sleep well after the first few hours where you’re dead to the world. That’s all because glutamate production soars a few hours after you end drinking which typically means after you’ve dozed off with the pizza box open and half a glass of water down.

Then there’s the memories, the fear. Glutamate is also essential for creating memories and when it’s being entirely blocked, that’s when we “black out” and don’t remember things from our drunken escapades…which may be a good thing listening to your mates retelling cringe tales of the night before..awks!

It’s not just glutamate that drops in our body though, we also see reductions in folic acid levels which contribute towards mood changes, making you feel less like your usual bubbly self but also why you’re more likely to grab a coffee to spruce yourself up… which enhances feelings of anxiety… so a cuppa’ joe may not be what you need.

So, there we have it…the technical (kinda) explanation for those feelings of dread the morning after. It’s amazing what those innocent brightly coloured cocktails can do to us which is why we’re choosing to drink more mindfully and stay clear of the ‘booze blues’.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing our top tips on how to drink more mindfully and avoid that awful next day feeling.