Drinking is fun, until the morning after when you wake up with a pounding headache, a queasy stomach and 100 text messages from your friends asking why you missed CrossFit. While none of the symptoms of a hangover are what we’d describe as “fun,” anxiety is arguably one of the worst. Hangxiety is surprisingly common, but not as oft discussed as other hangover symptoms like headaches and nausea.
“The feelings that you have after you drink alcohol, or even the day after, can result in a whole range of feelings and moods and anxiety symptoms … from panic to feeling depressed to feeling impulsive to feeling agitated and irritable,” Aparna Iyer, MD, told Sel f. That’s because alcohol gives your brain a dopamine rush—but when the rush is over, it can leave you feeling anxious and out of sorts. It also blocks other neurotransmitters, which can ultimately negatively impact your mood.
“I think of a hangover as, more or less, a mini-withdrawal from alcohol, and anxiety is one of the components,” adds George F. Koob, PhD, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And if you’re already prone to anxiety, he says, a hangover can make it so much worse. Cool.