Hangover anxiety is a legit phenomenon which directly affects people’s moods and usually, is accompanied by physical hangover symptoms.
Hanxiety (according to Drinkaware) happens when the sedative effects of the alcohol wears off as your body processes it.
“You can begin to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms similar to feelings people who are dependent on alcohol may have,” the site said.
Psychological symptoms include feeling depressed or anxious, with many feeling the effects of this as they are feeling the effects of alcohol withdraw.
Behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings explained to UNILAD:
“As alcohol leaves the body during the night, it also depletes your levels of serotonin, the chemical that regulates our mood, so you might feel even more stressed the next day. If you’ve had a pretty standard hangover before and then get your first proper hangxiety attack, you are much more likely to have them in the future.”
In addition, our brains “remember” the additional feelings of stress, guilt, concern as well as our fear of experiencing hangxiety again — therefore heightening our stress and increasing the chances of it happening.
It should also be noted that hanxiety is more prevalent in people who are prone to anxiety in the first place — especially those who use alcohol as a social lubricant to calm their nerves.
A psychotherapist from London, Hilda Burke, shares a similar narrative, stating:
“While alcohol may feel initially like a conversation “lubricant”, unfortunately it can seem like more of an inappropriate “laxative” for others.”
Burke also works with many clients who “self medicate” with alcohol in an attempt to silence their anxious thoughts only to find that these exact thoughts are exaggerated the very next day with their hangover.
Burke continued to share:
“Most of my clients who self medicate this way also feel intense shame about it – they often express a sense of frustration about why they do it to themselves knowing that the outcome will be that they feel twice as bad about themselves. So while the act itself feels self destructive, their self judgement on that act compounds the feeling even further.”