Your Guide To Combating 'Hangxiety' After A Night Out

Last night was fun, but this morning? Not so much. You went a little overboard with the tequila shots, and now you're suffering a massive hangover. According to Mayo Clinic, hangovers are caused by drinking too much alcohol, leading to common symptoms like headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and fatigue.

Post-party hangovers –- and alcohol in general –- can also affect your mental health and how you feel emotionally. Alcohol is a depressant that causes immediate changes in the brain, says Addiction Group. These changes can impact your mood and behavior, even after alcohol starts to leave your bloodstream. Those shots and extra glasses of wine can also wreak havoc on your sleep, explaining why you might feel grumpier than usual the next morning.

But hangovers can involve more than mild irritability. You might wake up feeling totally stressed in a state of "hangxiety," a term to describe hangover-related anxiety (per Medical News Today). Here's what to know about hangxiety and how to deal when the morning after a big night out feels overwhelming.

What is hangxiety?

If you notice anxiety the day after drinking, it's likely hangxiety. According to Choosing Therapy, symptoms can include nervousness, panic, worry, weakness, trouble concentrating, and physical signs of anxiety like shakiness and digestive issues. Hangxiety doesn't happen to everyone, but it's not uncommon. One 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine indicated that around 12% of people experience hangover-related anxiety, while another study from 2017 published in Human Psychopharmacology revealed that nearly one in four people experience hangxiety.

There are several possible explanations for morning-after anxiety (per Healthline). The body's natural alcohol detox process can trigger anxious feelings in some people. In other cases, post-drinking anxiety is a sign of alcohol intolerance or allergy. Dehydration and a lack of sleep can also have a negative impact on mood.

In many cases, though, anxiety begets anxiety. This is especially true for social anxiety: if you drink to overcome anxiety in social situations, those feelings might catch up to you once you've sobered up. A 2019 study published in Personality and Individual Differences backs up this theory. In the study, the shyest participants were more likely to have hangxiety symptoms after drinking.

How to prevent and deal with hangxiety

According to Healthline, the best way to prevent hangxiety -– besides not drinking at all –- is to drink responsibly. Eat before drinking, and stay hydrated with water during your night out. Also, be sure to drink slowly and limit how much alcohol you consume.

If you're already suffering from hangxiety, basic self-care can help relieve symptoms, says Alcohol Rehab Help. Rehydrate, get plenty of rest, take a shower, and ease your mind with meditation or breathing exercises. There are also many natural remedies that may help ease your anxiety, including exercise and essential oils.

Hangovers are temporary and generally last only a day or two (per Cleveland Clinic). Persistent anxiety that doesn't go away might signal a deeper issue. Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Dr. George Koob tells Good Housekeeping that if you feel anxious regularly or turn to alcohol multiple times a week to stave off anxiety symptoms, it might be time to speak with a doctor or therapist for help.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.