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Alcohol and Anxiety: Causes, Risks & Effective Treatments

Alcohol and Anxiety: Causes, Risks & Effective Treatments

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Excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on the body and the mind. Over time, drinking too much alcohol can cause brain damage, memory loss, and blackouts. As you deal with their symptoms, these problems may make you feel more anxious. Keep reading to learn more about the connection between alcohol and anxiety.

Difference Between Anxiety and Depression – Alcohol and Anxiety

Anxiety and depression difference: The fact that one term denotes a single sickness while the other denotes a collection of ailments is a significant distinction between anxiety and depression.

In reality, depression is one illness. There are numerous distinct symptoms (see below). And different people may experience it very differently. However, the term “depression” only refers to one illness.

The word “anxiety” can indicate a number of different things. We all experience anxiety occasionally, and the word “anxiety” can be used to describe that feeling simply. However, when we use the word anxiety in a medical context, it actually refers to anxiety disorder.

Some less frequent conditions are included under anxiety. These include panic disorders and phobias. However, generalized anxiety disorder is the most prevalent (GAD). In the US, a generalized anxiety disorder may affect four to five out of every 100 persons. In this post, we’ll concentrate on generalized anxiety.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

According to The National Institute on Mental Health, periodic anxiety is a standard component of life. When faced with a challenge at work, before a test, or before making a crucial decision, you could experience anxiety. However, anxiety disorders involve more than just passing apprehension or terror.

Anxiety and depression difference: It’s critical to get anxiety treatment as soon as possible since, for someone with an anxiety condition, the anxiety does not go away and can worsen over time. The symptoms might affect daily tasks like work performance, academic progress, and interpersonal connections. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders are only a few of the several types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety and depression difference: People with a generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive Anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about many things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. Fear and Anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work. 

What is Depression?

Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It produces severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis, including sleeping, eating, and working. The signs of depression must last for at least two weeks before a diagnosis may be made.

Depression treatment is required when depressive symptoms are chronic and do not go away since some types of depression are slightly different or may arise in unusual situations.

Types of Depression

  • Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major Depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered a persistent depressive disorder.
  • Psychotic Depression: occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
  • Bipolar disorder: is different from Depression, but it is included in this list because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major Depression (called “Bipolar Depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
  • Postpartum Depression: is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with postpartum Depression experience full-blown major Depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or their babies.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: is characterized by the onset of Depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This Depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter Depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
  • SAD Seasonal Depression (Depressed SAD): A form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by the changing of the seasons; it starts and ends about at the same periods each year. If you have SAD like the majority of people do, your symptoms begin in the fall and last through the winter, draining your energy and making you cranky. Typically, these symptoms go away in the spring and summer. SAD less frequently results in depression in the spring or early summer and clears up in the fall or winter. SAD treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy (phototherapy).

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Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Overview

A mental health condition marked by intense feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that interfere with daily activities. Panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are a few examples of anxiety disorders.
The inability to put aside worry, restlessness, and stress that is out of proportion to the severity of the incident are among the symptoms.
Counseling or medicine, including antidepressants, are used as forms of treatment.


Anxiety Symptoms

Behavioral: hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.

Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.

Whole body: fatigue or sweating

Also common:  anxiety, excessive worry, angor animi, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Anxiety Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.


6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

19 million

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.
Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.

Does Alcohol Cause Anxiety? Alcohol Anxiety

Can alcohol cause anxiety? The notion that drinking helps lessen stress is somewhat true. Alcohol affects the central nervous system and has sedative and depressive properties.

Drinking initially helps to calm anxiety and distract from problems. It can make you feel less self-conscious, happier, and more at ease all around. Alcohol’s effects can actually be comparable to those of anti-anxiety drugs.

Does Alcohol Increase Anxiety?

If your doctor permits, occasionally relaxing with wine isn’t necessarily harmful. However, if you start drinking, you may develop a tolerance for alcohol’s calming properties. As a result, managing stress and anxiety may become even more challenging.

Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on the body and the mind. Over time, drinking too much alcohol can cause brain damage, memory loss, and blackouts (especially if it causes other health problems, such as liver damage). As you deal with their symptoms, these problems may make you feel more anxious.

Your blood alcohol concentration is frequently responsible for the feeling of calm you experience after drinking (BAC). Temporary emotions of excitement are produced when BAC levels rise, but depressive feelings are produced when BAC levels fall. This means that drinking a few drinks that cause your BAC to increase before returning to normal could make you feel much more worried than you already did.

Why Does Alcohol Cause Anxiety? Alcohol Depression Anxiety

Alcohol alters the chemistry of the brain, and because it affects GABA, a neurotransmitter that often has a calming impact on the brain, it can create panic. Small doses of alcohol can activate GABA and make you feel relaxed, but heavy drinking can deplete GABA, which makes you feel more tense and panicky.

Anxiety And Alcohol: Alcohol Induced Anxiety

Serotonin and other neurotransmitter levels in the brain are altered by alcohol, which can exacerbate anxiety. In fact, once the alcohol wears off, you can feel even more worried. Anxiety brought on by alcohol might persist for several hours or even the entire day after drinking.

It can be risky to use alcohol to treat social anxiety disorder. Approximately 7% of Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), suffer from this type of anxiety.

You could find social circumstances to be intolerable if you have social anxiety. Alcohol use is widespread among those with social anxiety disorder as a coping mechanism for social situations. By doing this, one may develop a dependency on alcohol when socializing, which could exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

About 20 percent of people with a social anxiety disorder also suffer from alcohol dependence.

Besides needing alcohol to feel comfortable when socializing, other signs of dependence include:

  • Needing a drink to get going in the morning
  • Drinking heavily four or more days per week
  • Requiring a drink at every get-together
  • An inability to stop drinking
  • Drinking five or more alcoholic beverages in one day

Overconsumption of alcohol can also lead to hangovers. A hangover can cause symptoms that make you feel more anxious than you were, including:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood glucose (sugar)
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Alcoholism And Anxiety: Does Alcohol Make Anxiety Worse?

Anxiety and alcoholism: Alcohol consumption can have a number of long-term health effects, including mental health difficulties. According to research, alcoholics have a hard time recovering from traumatic experiences. Alcohol abuse’s effects, which can really alter brain activity, may be to blame for this.

Heavy drinkers for a prolonged period of time may be more likely to acquire an anxiety disorder. However, there is no proof that anxiety will result from moderate drinking.

Alcohol Anxiety Withdrawal (Alcohol Withdrawal Anxiety)

Increased anxiety is also a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. If you’ve consumed alcohol in large amounts for a long period of time and suddenly stop drinking, your anxiety can be aggravated by the side effects of alcohol withdrawal. Other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Trembling hands
  • Sweating
  • Heart rate above 100 beats per minute
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Does Alcohol Help Anxiety? Alcohol is Not Anxiety Treatment

Can alcohol help anxiety? Different age groups and genders have different definitions of moderate drinking. In the US, “moderate” usually means two drinks for adult men and one for women per day. Alcohol is metabolized more quickly in older folks, so if you fall into this category, stick to one drink per day. Consult your doctor to find out if you should drink alcohol in moderation.

Does Alcohol Calm Anxiety or Alcohol Helps Anxiety?

Does alcohol help with anxiety? The hazards associated with alcohol intake can occasionally outweigh its advantages.

  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Liver disease
  • Cardiovascular damage

Everybody is affected by alcohol differently. It might help you feel happier after a difficult day or more sedated. To determine whether alcohol is safe for you, first discuss these worries with your doctor.

Remember that you might not be able to drink alcohol safely if you have:

  • Low tolerance for drinking
  • Anxious or aggressive tendencies
  • A mental health disorder

Alcohol does not reduce anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety, get help from a mental health expert. Consult your doctor straight away if you believe you have an alcohol problem.

Is there a Best Alcohol For Anxiety? Anxiety Alcohol

Alcohol for anxiety: Resveratrol, a plant-based substance found in red wine, has been proven to have anti-stress properties by impairing the activity of an enzyme that regulates stress in the brain.

Alcohol And Anxiety Attacks

According to one study, 25% of persons with panic disorder who sought therapy also had a history of alcohol consumption.

GABA, serotonin, and dopamine are just a few of the brain chemicals that alcohol affects, and when these chemicals are changed, they can affect how the body responds to common events. Due to alcohol’s effects on GABA, a neurotransmitter that often has a calming effect, panic might be brought on. Light drinking can enhance GABA and lead to feelings of calm, whereas severe drinking can deplete GABA and lead to increased tension and panic attacks.

Alcohol self-medication is a common strategy used by people with panic disorder and many other types of anxiety disorders to try to ease their worries. They run the risk of developing an alcohol dependence over time when they drink more and more, which puts them at risk for alcohol withdrawal, which can cause really bad anxiety.

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How To Stop Anxiety After Drinking Alcohol?

If you’ve been through the anxiety rodeo before, you probably already have a toolkit of coping mechanisms. However, if you have a throbbing headache or the room spins when you move, you probably won’t feel up to going for a stroll, doing yoga, or blogging about your feelings.

Anxiety After Drinking Alcohol: Manage physical symptoms

In hangxiety, the mind-body connection most certainly plays a significant role. While being physically well won’t eliminate anxiety completely, it can give you more resources to deal with your racing thoughts and worries.

Increased anxiety is also a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. If you’ve consumed alcohol in large amounts for a long period of time and suddenly stop drinking, your anxiety can be aggravated by the side effects of alcohol withdrawal
Increased anxiety is also a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. If you’ve consumed alcohol in large amounts for a long period of time and suddenly stop drinking, your anxiety can be aggravated by the side effects of alcohol withdrawal

Alcohol Causes Anxiety: Take a deep breath — and then another

Deep, slow breathing can help you relax and slow a racing or pounding heart. Breathe in while counting to four, then breathe out while counting to four again. Do this for a few minutes, until you notice your heartbeat slowing down. You can also try the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

Anxiety From Alcohol: Try mindfulness meditation

You can meditate while sitting or even lying in bed if you don’t feel up to being upright. It can help to start with some deep breathing, so lie or sit back, close your eyes, and focus on your thoughts and how you feel, physically and emotionally. Don’t try to judge your thoughts, avoid them, or unpack them. Simply notice them as they come up into your awareness.

Put the night into perspective

Worrying about what you might have said or done while drinking frequently plays a significant role in hangxiety. But keep in mind that what applies to you probably also applies to everyone else. In other words, chances are you weren’t the only one who made a mistaken statement or action. It’s also possible that nothing you said or did went unnoticed (or already forgot about it).

Keeping your mind on what happened could worsen your emotions. You might feel more at ease conversing with a good friend if you were with them. But for now, it could be beneficial to pause for a while and consider your ideas. What worries you the most? Why? Talking yourself through your fears and confronting them might sometimes help you manage.

Anxiety Disorder Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol is an anesthetic. It can temporarily help you feel less restrained since it slows down operations in your brain and central nervous system. You might experience a brief increase in relaxation, but these benefits disappear quickly. In fact, drinking alcohol while you’re anxious can make matters worse.

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Anxiety And Alcohol Abuse: Best Anti Anxiety Medication For Alcoholics

Patients with alcohol dependence and social anxiety were found to benefit from paroxetine. Sertraline, in particular, an SSRI, has shown efficacy in the treatment of comorbid AnxD-AUD (anxiety disorder and alcohol use disorder) and posttraumatic stress disorder. When patients are actively drinking, however, SSRIs should be used with caution as they may increase alcohol consumption. It was discovered that buspirone, gabapentin, and pregabalin were beneficial in treating comorbid AnxD-AUD. Dual AnxDs should begin receiving treatment as soon as possible.

The ability of AUDs and AnxDs to reinforce one another makes treatments that address both diseases successfully. Compared to men, women experience higher levels of tension and anxiety, and they are more susceptible to continuing their alcohol use.

Anxiety Medication And Alcohol (Anxiety Meds And Alcohol)

What Happens If You Drink Alcohol While On Anxiety Medication? Alcoholism Anxiety

Can you drink alcohol with anxiety pills? Anxiety medication and alcohol: More anxiety or depression could be present. Drinking can negate the therapeutic effects of your antidepressant, making the management of your symptoms more challenging. Alcohol may appear to lift your spirits momentarily, but ultimately, it worsens the signs of anxiety and depression.

Are There Anxiety Meds Safe With Alcohol?

It is advised to avoid consuming alcohol while taking an antidepressant. It can be harmful and it might make your symptoms worse. You can have increased anxiety or depression if you combine medications with alcohol.

We Level Up Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The exact definition of dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) can differ between institutions.  However, it is generally described as the specific treatment of someone who has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time. Treating dual-diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment experience because co-occurring disorders are strongly correlated with instances of substance abuse.

Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and managing underlying mental health disorders is part of setting clients up for success.  A thorough mental health analysis identifies possibilities for treatment.  Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment. At our dual diagnosis treatment center, We Level Up can implement the highest quality of care. 

We recognize the fragile complexities of how mental and substance abuse disorders can influence others and sometimes result in a vicious cycle of addiction.  That’s why we offer specialized treatment in dual-diagnosis cases to provide the most excellent chance of true healing and long-lasting recovery.

It can be challenging to accept that you may be living with a mental illness, but once it is properly diagnosed and treated, treating the presenting case of substance abuse can be magnitudes easier. Only a properly trained medical professional can diagnose these underlying conditions.  If you believe you are suffering from a disorder alongside addiction, we urge you to seek a qualified treatment center to begin your journey to recovery. Call We Level Up today.

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