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Does Alcohol Cause Anxiety?

Upset woman frustrated by problem sitting on couch, embracing knees

In exploring the relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety, it’s essential to understand that this is a complex and multifaceted issue.

Alcohol, often used as a social lubricant or a means to unwind, can have profound effects on mental health, particularly concerning anxiety.

By providing a clear understanding, our goal is to help you make informed decisions regarding alcohol use and recognize its potential impact on mental health.

Interplay Between Anxiety and Alcohol Use

Alcohol is often used by people to relax or feel less shy in social situations. However, it can have a big impact on your mental health, especially when it comes to feeling anxious.

When people feel anxious, they might drink alcohol to feel better. At first, drinking can make you feel relaxed or happy, covering up the anxious feelings. But this doesn’t last long.

Once the effects of the alcohol wear off, you might feel even more anxious than before. This can start a harmful cycle where you drink more to get rid of the anxiety, which can lead to alcohol dependence, health problems, and panic attacks.

If you keep drinking a lot over time, it can make anxiety problems even worse. Alcohol changes how your brain works, which can make you feel more stressed and anxious. It can also lead to problems in your life like trouble with friends, family, or work, which can make you feel more anxious.1

Using alcohol to deal with anxiety can also stop you from learning better ways to handle stress. Relying on alcohol means you might not learn important skills like solving problems, controlling your emotions, or asking for help from others. This can leave you more open to feeling anxious and stuck in the cycle of drinking and feeling anxious.

Role of Genetics and Environmental Factors

Your genes can make a big difference in whether you might have problems with anxiety or alcohol. If your parents or other family members have had trouble with these things, it’s likely you have a higher chance of facing them too.1

Challenges we face in life also have an impact on generalized anxiety disorders and alcohol dependence. If you face really hard or upsetting events, like losing someone close to you or going through a big change, you might feel stressed or anxious.2

Sometimes, to handle these rough times, people might start drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism. It may seem like a quick fix to feel better, but it can quickly turn into a habit. Before you know it, you might start needing alcohol to feel okay, and that can make your anxiety worse.

How Alcohol Interferes with Mental Health

Alcohol can have a disruptive effect on the chemicals in your brain that help you keep a good mood. When these chemicals get all mixed up, you can start to feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster—one minute you’re up, the next you’re down. This can make feelings of anxiety worse than normal.2

Also, alcohol can trick you into thinking it helps you sleep, but it’s doing the opposite. It interferes with your sleep patterns, which is important for feeling calm and in control. When you don’t sleep well, it’s harder to handle stress and keep your anxiety in check.3

Heavy drinking can make it tough to think straight, make smart choices, or even remember things properly. This can add a lot of stress to your life, increasing anxiety. Plus, alcohol can make your mood swing wildly, which is like adding fuel to the fire of anxiety.

Distinguishing Between Anxiety and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

It’s important to know the difference between feeling anxious and having symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. When you stop drinking after consuming large amounts of alcohol regularly, you may experience shaking, sweating, sickness, and a fast heartbeat. This can look like different types of anxiety symptoms. But they’re actually your body’s reaction to not having alcohol.2

When you’re withdrawing from alcohol, you might also feel more anxious, irritable, and moody. This is your central nervous system reacting to the absence of alcohol. Unlike anxiety, withdrawal symptoms usually get better as your body adjusts to going without alcohol.2

Black man with hands covered his face feeling worried

The Importance of Seeking Professional Help

Getting help from a professional is a big step in dealing with anxiety and alcohol use disorders. These issues can be complicated and hard to handle on your own. Mental health experts can figure out if you have anxiety, alcohol problems, or both.

Therapists and counselors can give you treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which works well for anxiety and learning better ways to cope. If you’re struggling with alcohol abuse, you can get help with detoxing safely, medicine, and therapy for alcohol problems. These treatments help with the symptoms and also deal with the deeper reasons behind social anxiety disorder and alcohol use.

If you have both anxiety and alcohol problems, getting treatment for both at the same time often works best. Dual diagnosis treats both problems together because they’re often linked. By dealing with both, professionals can help you get better results and stay well for longer.

Understand Alcohol and Anxiety with Lumina Recovery

The link between alcohol and anxiety is complicated. While alcohol might seem like it helps with anxiety at first, it can lead to alcohol dependence, making anxiety worse over time.

Understanding how your genes, life events, and how alcohol affects your mind and body is important in dealing with these issues. Lumina Recovery offers different forms of therapy and dual diagnosis treatment to help you or your loved ones with anxiety and alcohol issues.

Remember, noticing the signs and getting professional help can really help in managing anxiety and alcohol use in a healthy way. Contact us today to learn more and start living your best life.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6876499/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860396/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842378/

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