Anxiety Community
23k Members
Avatar universal

alcohol and anxiety

After excessive drinking, I sometimes have a day or more of being in a constant state of panic.  It's not a true panic attack, as I understand them, in that it isn't a 5-10 minute bout; rather, it's constant.  I feel like I'm going insane and going to die.  I've gone to the hospital with this feeling on more than one occasion. Once, it lasted for a week.  I saw mulitple doctors, had MRIs, C-scans of the brain, etc.  I was prescribed Alprazolam, and now if I get this feeling, I take one-half to one pill and just fall asleep.  Obviously, the origin is the drinking, but what exactly does it tell me?  Am I more susceptible to the effects of alcohol?  Is this a common effect?  Is the effect a sign of alcoholism?  I've spoken to many doctors and shrinks.  I suppose it's possible that nothing is wrong, but I just don't see how that can be seeing as how what I'm describing appears to be so isolated to me.  Anyone? Oh, and yes, this is not an invitation to the easy cop-out quick fix of "stop drinking."  The point of the question has to do with alcohol and the effects and what it might be doing to my brain/nervous system/etc.  
21 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi Moe,

Alcohol can do, just about anything to a person. My husband almost died from drinking. I myself have been use to drink. I do not think you are any more susceptible than any other person who fights an addiction. Our bodies react difrently, at any given time to a host of different symptoms.

The effect is not a sign of alchoholism that i've evr heard. I think possibly your system is reacting to the with drawl from excessive drinking. This can give us racing thoughts for few days, which in turn..gives us anxiety. Did the doctor say what the Alprazolam is to be used for?

Hopefully someone else will also reply, as to give you their take on this. One way to find out is to actually go to a support group you find comfortable going to and get there fast! Lotta good stuff out there. You can always ask your family doctor his opinion.

Good Luck!

531684 tn?1216749584
I have the same exact problem. I love drinking, its very social and it does help to calm my nerves. Until the next day, which is awful. Yet, I still drink.

Anyway, I think it has to do with the withdrawl of alcohol. That doesn't mean your an alcoholic. You're just more prone and sensative to body changes. So you analyze them.

Also, alcohol is a depressant. This obviously effects peoples moods. Up and down.

My advice, try yoga and eat breakfast every morning, even hung over. Never drink hard alcohol. Stick to beer and wine, this will help with the hangovers. Go for a run and work up a sweat in the morning, I know this is hard. And most importantly SLEEP. I've noticed if I get drunk and sleep in the next day, my anxiety is not bad. But, I rarely get a solid sleep because of the drinking. Do your best to get some sleep. To help you sip some chamomile tea.

If none of this works... grab another cold one. ;)

That last part is a slippery slope of course (and a joke), so be careful if you ever decide to do that. It's probably best to HAVE the hangover even if it causes anxiety.

480448 tn?1426952138
Alcohol is just about the wrost thing for anxiety and panic...sure you feel great when you're drinking...but the after effects are awful.  And that is because it is a depressant.  I pretty much gave it up completely after I realized that the few days after a night of drinking sent me into panic city.

If I could offer you any advice....it would be to either stop drinking all together....or at least only drink in moderation.  I never noticed the post-drinking panic as much when I only had a "few" versus getting sloshed.

Good luck.
214277 tn?1211820633
i have the same problem. i have been drinking socially for 20 come odd years. i know suffer from anxiety and i notice that the next day after a good night of 10 beers or more i am shaky, my heart feels as its racing and i almost go into a panic attack. i get extremly nervious and then i feel like something is wrong with me. sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesnt. i do not now why it does or doesnt. i drank alot last saturday and i was fine the next morning with no anxiety but come monday through today i have had a very anxious week. when the anxiety starts for me i worry about everything. my thing is my health. i am a hypochodriac and i am very very sensitve to my body. this only started 2 1/2 years ago and not sure what started it but i HATE it. i am about to go on meds for the but dont want to cuz i know i can be stronger then it but it always wins. i have not stopped drinking but if its bad the net day i will take a 1.2 a xanax to calm me down and it seems to work but its a horrible feeling and i only drink once a week and i love that once a week but hate the rest of the weeks. good luck and if you find answers tell me..
547573 tn?1234659310

Everyone here have made excellent comments/suggestions and I agree that the alcohol is probably the cause of your condition, although tere could be another psycholgical issue involved. Only a  qualified mental health professional could tell you that.

And, as nursegirl said, alcohol is a depressant and withdrawal from it can simulate the effects of a panic attack.

Take the suggestions to either drink in moderation or, although, you don't want to here it, stop deinking completely. Obviously, you are using to self medicate so I think there are deeper issues that need to be addressed or you may be predisposed to acoholism.

Regardless, seek the advice of a professional and be truthful about your drinking habits(i.e. quantity, number of times a week, etc.) otherwise don't bother with the visit.

This may be harsh, but coming from an alcoholic himslef(I've been sober over 6 years) and one who knows about self medicating, I suggest you seriously consider what has been said in this forum.

Finally, don't use your medication with alcohol. It's a dangerous combination and can lead to even more problems.

370181 tn?1428180348
OK, I won't give you the "easy quick fix cop-out quit drinking" lecture. You've made it clear that is a road you won't even consider. I see that you are 30 years old. Don't you think you should be beyond the 19 year old sorority girl "escessive drinking" phase of your life? Is it not possible for you to enjoy just a few cocktails with friends without ending up under the bus?
I'm done discussing your alcohol intake. Only YOU can make that change.
But what I WILL get on you about is taking alprozalam as some sort of "hair of the dog!" Do you have any idea just how stupid that is? How bloody dangerous?
If you had been a member since before yesterday, you would know that those of us on this forum recently lost one of our members when she got drunk and took too many Xanax. It was a tragic error that cost her her life.
I don't know why you have anxiety for days after one of your excessive drinking bouts except to echo what has already been said on here. You know that alcohol is a depressant, makes you feel good while you're high, but the landing is ALWAYS a crash. You are probably dealing with a certain amount of alcohol poisioning, dehydration, lack of restful sleep and a host of other ailments that your body is desperately trying to deal with. Time to listen to your body.
I hope you take a good long look at your present lifestyle.
And yes............I DO drink.
396099 tn?1216258586
Anxiety is such an awful feeling that it's difficult for me to understand how anyone can deliberately go BACK to a trigger that would cause a full week of it.  I noticed the exact same thing early on when my anxiety phases began and today I have a 1 glass of wine or 2 beer limit.  On most days it's zero.  Anxiety *****.  I do what you can to avoid it.  If you're not sure if you're addicted to alcohol, there's  a good forum for it right here on medhelp.  Go talk to people.  Get educated.

Good Luck
480448 tn?1426952138
Duckandcover...great post (along with all of the others of course)...but you said it perfectly.  Regardless of ALL of the reasons WHY it affects anxiety...bottom line is...it does....in the case of the OP.  I agree that going to drastic measures to avoid ANY anxiety trigger regardless of what it is makes total sense.

I hope that littlemoe is at least reading and taking all of this in.  I used to be a heavy binge drinker when I was in my early 20's....and I remember just how out of control my anxiety was.  While I DID seriously enjoy social drinking in moderation...I mostly gave that up as well....b/c it just wasn't worth it to me to have to deal with all of the anxiety.

Of course everyone is different....but if there is overwhelming evidence showing that alcohol is a significant trigger...I would try to avoid it at all costs.  And, yes...using Xanax in the manner you are is not only inappropiate and will end up ineffective in the long run...but it could also be dangerous.  Give that some thought, please.

Good Luck!
Avatar universal
It's not that I "won't consider" the quick fix.  It's that I am not a moron needing to be told not to drink excessively.  I was actually curious about the medical effects and how it does what it does.  I was never in a sorority or anything resembling it.  And, yes, I can and do enjoy myself without alcohol or when I go out and have just a few drinks.  Perhaps my query is better suited for the alcohol forum where the actual biology is discussed.  To all others, I appreciate the thoughts.  

Oh, and by the way...clearly your reading comprehension is low, but to reiterate....my doctor prescribed the Xanax to take when I have the anxiety after the nights out, and part of the query was to ask why anyone supposes he did that.  Your vile response, while a true non sequitor to my post, lets me know you think that's a bad idea, but...again, I was wondering about the "why" of it because I don't know much about anxiety.  I will forward my questions to my primary health provider.  Read a book.
370181 tn?1428180348
I'm glad to hear that you WILL consider the "quick fix." Since you have informed me that you are NOT a moron, then you should be able to put two and two together and see that a night of excessive drinking equals a few days of horrid anxiety. Subtract the excessive drinking from your life, and more than likely, you will also rid yourself of the resulting anxiety. Who is it that has difficulty with reading comprehension?
That your doctor has prescribed a med like Xanax to help you cope with your "excessive drinking, anxiety driven hang-overs," is just short of being a bloody quack! No, I take that back. He IS a quack. A stern lecture about binge drinking, prescribing a couple of aspirin and encouraging you to get into some therapy for your anxiety issues would be the better course of treatment.
I would also spend some time educating myself about anxiety, its causes and symptoms........reading some posts on this forum will give you a good head start on that. And you suggest that I read a book. (Such a witty repartee!) What do you suggest? Perhaps I'll finish "Binge Drinking for Dummies."
Avatar universal
No one ever questioned why the anxiety came or what caused it; however, this fact continues to elude you.  Hence, I am left thinking you mis-read my original post or you've gone "bloody" mad!  (hysterical)  Continue to post your responses to a question never posited.  By the way, using all caps to emphasize meaning is another tell regarding your aptitude for reading, and "witty repartee" is an amazing redundancy that made me laugh harder than I have in weeks, so thanks....oh, and yes....Cheerio!
480448 tn?1426952138
I think you were taken aback by lydia's posts b/c they were quite to the point and sometimes it is hard to read what we already know.  Re-reading your original post...it is very clear that you already know what is causing your anxiety....what is the most important is that you are aware of it...and that regardless if you have a "drinking problem" or not.....you don't want to suffer with the anxiety...so you were seeking some answers.

Initially...it honestly DID appear that you were looking for an easy answer...as if someone was going to come and say..."Why YES!  You are allergic to alcohol!"  Lydia just sort of laid it out...raw and honestly.  I hope that you can move past your feelings about her posts and take the information IN them for what it is worth.

There are wonderful people here who can help to guide you thru this.  Sometimes you have to be able to not become defensive about certain comments that may stick in your craw.  That kind of stuff happens on discussion boards all the time...and the best thing to do is not let it get to you...and really take the info at face value.

Lastly.....I hope that you understand the reason Lydia made her comments in the first place.  If you read your original post.....you pretty much set the tone with some of your comments.

Just something to think about.  So many of us live with anxiety and it stinks.  We would help any single person that walked through the "virtual" door.  You just have to be able to be honest with yourself, and be open minded about the whole process.

Take Care.
Have an Answer?
Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
370181 tn?1428180348
Arlington, WA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out what can trigger a panic attack – and what to do if you have one.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Take control of tension today.
These simple pick-me-ups squash stress.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?