Does drinking cause anxiety and panic attacks?

Does drinking cause anxiety attacks? What are the symptoms of a panic attack? Read on to learn more about treatment for anxiety and panic attacks.

Table of Contents

What Is An Alcohol-Induced Panic Attack?

Though many people turn to alcohol because they believe it improves their anxiety, the truth is that drinking alcohol can have negative consequences on a person’s mental health. Indeed, drinking alcohol may temporarily lead to increased relaxation and confidence. However, these effects are short-lived, and any negative feelings a person has before drinking will return – and sometimes be worse – than they were.

does drinking cause anxiety

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Does Drinking Cause Anxiety?

Drinking alcohol can be a part of a negative cycle related to mental health concerns. Some people drink to improve their anxiety, only to find themselves reliant on a substance that worsens their anxiety. Alcohol consumption can even affect chemicals in the brain to the extent that it leads to alcohol causing panic attacks. 1

Does Drinking Cause Anxiety and Panic Attacks?

Alcohol is a sedative and can provide short-term relaxation effects, so some people may believe drinking alcohol helps anxiety. However, this is not the case, and panic attacks from alcohol can happen due to alcohol’s effects on the brain.
A chemical in the brain called GABA, which is responsible for feelings of relaxation, can deplete if someone drinks heavily. When GABA is depleted, this can lead to anxiety and panic, which may trigger a panic attack in some people. 2

How Alcohol Worsens Anxiety and Panic Disorder

Many people report feeling anxious the hours and days after drinking, and this is due to alcohol changing levels of serotonin, GABA, and other chemicals in the brain. 3

Why Alcohol is an Unhealthy Coping Mechanism for Panic Attacks

In addition to the negative impact alcohol has on the brain, drinking alcohol can also worsen anxiety and panic disorder if someone becomes reliant on it to cope with anxiety. People with social anxiety, for example, may find that drinking calms them down in social situations in which they would normally feel very uncomfortable. However, this cycle of drinking and anxiety can easily lead to addictive behavior and even alcohol use disorder.

What Are The Symptoms of a Panic Attack?

The symptoms of an alcohol induced panic attack and panic attacks brought on by other things have similar symptoms, which include:
  •  Shortness of breath or feeling like breathing is a struggle
  • A racing or pounding heart (palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling sick, faint, or dizzy
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shivering
  • A tingling or numbing sensation in the fingers or toes
  • Feeling very hot or very cold

Alcohol Anxiety Symptoms

People who struggle with alcohol consumption and anxiety may have alcohol anxiety symptoms, finding that:
  • Alcohol increases anxiety
  • Drinking alcohol triggers anxiety attacks
  • They have feelings of post-alcohol anxiety
  • They have bad panic attacks after drinking

Why Does Alcohol Cause Panic Attacks?

Drinking alcohol has several physical effects on the body that may make a panic attack more likely. An alcohol panic attack may occur for many reasons, some of those including:

Alcohol Causes Dehydration

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it forces fluids to move through your body at a much quicker rate than usual. This often leads to dehydration, which can come along with feelings of nausea, fatigue, headaches, and other unpleasant symptoms. All of these can lead to feelings of physical discomfort and anxiety. 4

Alcohol Interferes With Your Hormones

Studies show that alcohol use – particularly heavy alcohol use – can lead to hormonal changes. Hormones can play a part in regulating mood, so if they become disrupted by alcohol consumption, this can lead to anxiety and panic attacks. 5

Alcohol Can Decrease Your Blood Sugar Levels

Drinking alcohol can lead to drops in blood sugar; low blood sugar causes the body to increase adrenaline, leading to symptoms like anxiety, sweating palms, and shakiness. This can cause anxiety during drinking as well as after.

Alcohol Can Lead to Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone addicted to alcohol or has alcohol use disorder tries to stop drinking it, this may lead to withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, shakiness, mood changes, anxiety, and a potential alcohol panic attack.

Alcohol Intoxication May Result In Stressful Mistakes

Alcohol intoxication impacts judgment, coordination, and a person’s ability to function normally. If someone makes a mistake when drinking – for example, falling and injuring themselves or getting behind the wheel – this may lead to severe anxiety after drinking or anxiety during drinking.

Do You Suffer From Alcohol Induced Panic Attacks?

You’re not alone if you’re dealing with alcohol-causing panic attacks. For many people, drinking and anxiety go together, whether it’s experiencing anxiety while drinking or having a panic attack after drinking. It can be uncomfortable to deal with alcohol induced anxiety, for many people, the best thing to do is seek alcohol and anxiety treatment.

How to Deal With Alcohol Panic Attacks

A mental health professional or drug and alcohol counselor can be of great assistance when it comes to coping with alcohol induced anxiety. A professional can help you understand why drinking causes anxiety, the connection between alcohol and panic attacks, and what kind of treatment – inpatient, outpatient, group therapies, or lifestyle changes – will best help you.

Do All Types of Alcohol Cause Anxiety?

No one type of alcohol may lead to more anxiety than another type since all lead to the same symptoms of intoxication. However, it’s important to know that there is a correlation between anxiety and alcohol use: people with anxiety disorders are more likely to develop alcohol use disorder. One in five people with anxiety will use alcohol as an attempt to manage anxiety symptoms. 6
If you drink to cope with anxiety or end up having a panic attack after drinking, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional to better understand the correlation between drinking and anxiety.

How Long Does Alcohol Induced Anxiety (“Hangxiety”) Last

If you notice you tend to have severe anxiety after drinking, you may have what is known as “hangxiety.” You may feel physically unwell, as most do when experiencing a hangover, but also have additional guilt, shame, regret, and anxiety. The good news is that this type of anxiety often only lasts for about 24 hours but dealing with alcohol anxiety can be distressing.

Can Quitting Alcohol Cure Anxiety?

Getting advice from a professional is the best way to deal with anxiety or post-alcohol anxiety, but there are a few things you can do on your own, too, including:
  • Reducing or ceasing alcohol use
  • Avoiding using alcohol in periods of high stress
  • Treating underlying anxiety issues

For many people who deal with alcohol panic attacks or severe anxiety after drinking alcohol, the best way to avoid the anxiety associated with drinking is to stop and seek anxiety and alcohol treatment.

Get Treatment Plan to Stop Alcohol Abuse & Manage Panic Attacks at Profound Treatment

At Profound Treatment, you can get anxiety and alcohol treatment that gives you mental, body, and soul relief. You will receive the top-of-the-line medical and psychological care you need, and highly individualized interventions suited to your specific needs. Whether you visit Profound for detox or residential care, you can recover from the inside out with access to upscale amenities like a pool, chef, acupuncture, and much more.

The comfortable family atmosphere at Profound allows you to relax as you recover from alcohol dependence and anxiety, and the two-to-one staff/patient ratio means your needs will always be met.
alcohol induced anxiety

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