Drug and Alcohol - Trends and Statistics

Hangxiety: Why the Morning After Hangover Often Feels Anxious

Hangxiety: It's a word that describes the feelings of anxiety why you're hungover. But why do you feel anxious during a hangover? Check out our blog.

What is Hangxiety?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

March 27, 2024

The Forge Recovery Center

You know the symptoms. Dry mouth; sometimes, dry heaves. Your head feels like it’s about two sizes too big and is ringing like a bell, your mouth is just nasty, and your stomach…well, maybe that’s best left unsaid.

But anxiety, too? Why am I so anxious when I’m hungover?

The symptoms of a hangover are well-known if you’ve ever gone a little too hard the night before. From racing thoughts to intense self-criticism, "hangxiety" is a real phenomenon that affects many individuals post-alcohol consumption. Studies show that up to 50% of people who drink heavily experience this unsettling feeling the next day, leading to increased stress and unease.

Understanding the causes and coping mechanisms for hangxiety can help navigate through these challenging moments with more ease and awareness.

What is Hangxiety?

Hangxiety is a term used to describe the feeling of anxiety or unease that can arise after heavy alcohol consumption. It’s a combination of "hangover" and "anxiety," and it refers to an individual's increased levels of stress, worry, and general unease when dealing with the aftermath of a night out drinking.

While hangovers are commonly associated with physical symptoms like headaches and nausea, hangxiety refers to the mental and emotional effects of excessive alcohol consumption.

What Causes Hangxiety?

So, why do I feel so anxious when I’m hungover even before pounding down some coffee?

Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system, causing changes in brain chemistry and mood regulation. When we drink excessively, our brain produces an increased amount of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins - neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of pleasure and well-being.

However, once the effects of alcohol wear off, our brain attempts to restore its balance by producing less serotonin and dopamine. This can lead to a temporary decrease in mood, making us feel anxious or depressed.

Additionally, drinking can also disrupt our sleep patterns, leading to decreased quality and quantity of sleep. Lack of proper rest can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and unease the following day.

Chemical Changes in Your Brain

Alcohol consumption triggers chemical changes in the brain, affecting neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate. GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, slows down brain activity, inducing relaxation. On the other hand, glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that increases brain activity.

These changes lead to feelings of euphoria and reduced inhibition initially. However, as alcohol levels drop, GABA activity decreases while glutamate levels rise. This imbalance results in heightened anxiety and restlessness—commonly known as hangxiety.

Anxiety Susceptibility

Individuals with existing anxiety disorders are more susceptible to experiencing hangxiety. The interaction between alcohol-induced chemical changes and pre-existing anxiety amplifies feelings of worry and unease. Moreover, alcohol's impact on serotonin levels—a mood-regulating neurotransmitter—can further exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

For those with generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety, the combination of alcohol-induced chemical fluctuations and underlying anxiety can intensify feelings of dread and apprehension post-drinking.

Brain's Balance Restoration

Post-alcohol consumption, the brain works to restore its chemical balance disrupted by drinking. As GABA levels decrease and glutamate levels increase due to alcohol's effects, the brain initiates processes to readjust these imbalances.

The body may experience rebound effects as it tries to regain equilibrium, leading to symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating, and heightened stress responses—the hallmark signs of hangxiety. These physical manifestations are closely tied to the brain's efforts to normalize neurotransmitter activity after alcohol leaves the system.

Alcohol's Role in Hangxiety

The same thing that’s making you hungover is also driving your anxiety. Alcohol interacts with the brain's GABA and glutamate receptors, affecting their functions. This interaction leads to changes in neurotransmitter levels, influencing mood and behavior.

Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt the balance between GABA and glutamate, causing an initial feeling of relaxation followed by increased anxiety. The imbalance in these neurotransmitters contributes to the development of hangxiety.

Initial Relaxation Effects of Alcohol

Initially, alcohol may induce feelings of relaxation and euphoria by enhancing the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter that inhibits brain activity. This temporary relief from stress or inhibition is often sought after during social gatherings or stressful situations.

However, as the body metabolizes alcohol and its effects wear off, there is a rebound effect on the brain's neurotransmitters. This rebound effect can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and unease, commonly experienced as hangover symptoms.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

When consumed excessively, alcohol not only impairs cognitive functions but also intensifies hangxiety symptoms. The combination of dehydration, disrupted sleep patterns, and altered neurotransmitter levels exacerbate feelings of anxiety and unease the day after drinking.

Moreover, excessive alcohol intake can lead to changes in serotonin levels, another neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating mood. These fluctuations can contribute to increased feelings of depression and anxiety post-drinking.

CTA background

We’re here to help you find your way

Would you like more information about hangxiety? Reach out today.

Dehydration and Nutrient Loss

Dehydration exacerbates hangxiety symptoms by disrupting the body's chemical balance. When consuming alcohol, the body expels more water, leading to dehydration. This imbalance can intensify feelings of anxiety and unease the next day.

Drinking alcohol causes increased urination, which strips the body of essential fluids. As a result, dehydration ensues, impacting cognitive function and mood regulation. The lack of proper hydration amplifies hangxiety symptoms, making them more pronounced and distressing.

Importance of Nutrient Replenishment

After drinking alcohol, it is crucial to replenish lost nutrients to alleviate hangxiety. Alcohol consumption depletes vital vitamins and minerals in the body, contributing to feelings of anxiety and fatigue. Replacing these nutrients is essential for restoring the body's equilibrium.

Consuming nutrient-rich foods or supplements can help restore the body's depleted resources post-drinking. Foods high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, can aid in neutralizing harmful substances left behind by alcohol consumption. Replenishing lost nutrients promotes overall well-being and aids in alleviating hangxiety symptoms.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

To reduce post-drinking anxiety, maintaining adequate hydration is key. Drinking water before, during, and after consuming alcohol helps counteract dehydration effects. Opting for hydrating beverages like coconut water or electrolyte drinks can also replenish lost fluids effectively.

Avoiding excessive caffeine intake is crucial as it can further dehydrate the body. Opt for herbal teas or infused water instead to stay hydrated without exacerbating hangxiety symptoms. Monitoring alcohol consumption and interspersing drinks with water can help maintain hydration levels throughout the night.

Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms

Psychological symptoms of emotional withdrawal can intensify hangxiety, leading to heightened stress levels. Individuals may wake up feeling depressed due to memory gaps from the previous night's activities. This can trigger feelings of unease and anxiety, compounding the overall hangover experience.

Coping Strategies

  • Engaging in mindfulness practices such as meditation or deep breathing exercises can help alleviate psychological symptoms associated with hangxiety.

  • Seeking support from friends or a therapist to process emotions and thoughts can provide a safe space for individuals experiencing emotional withdrawal.

  • Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and practicing self-care routines like exercise and healthy eating can improve overall mental well-being.

Physical Manifestations

The physical symptoms of emotional withdrawal, such as nausea, upset stomach, and headaches, can exacerbate hangxiety, making it challenging to navigate daily tasks. These side effects often stem from the body's response to increased stress levels during withdrawal periods.

Nutritional Support

  • Consuming nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can replenish essential vitamins and minerals lost during heavy drinking sessions.

  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins from the body and aids in reducing physical symptoms associated with hangxiety.

Managing Hangxiety Symptoms

Staying hydrated is crucial in managing hangxiety symptoms. Alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, worsening anxiety the next day. Drinking water before bed and throughout the day helps alleviate symptoms. Adequate rest is equally important, as lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety levels.

A good night's sleep allows the body to recover and reduces feelings of anxiety. Establishing a bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine before bed, and creating a calming environment can promote better sleep quality. Prioritizing rest helps in combating hangxiety effectively.

Distraction Techniques

Engaging in distraction techniques is beneficial for alleviating hangxiety symptoms. Activities such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies divert attention from anxious thoughts. Exercise releases endorphins, improving mood and reducing anxiety levels.

Listening to music or podcasts, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones also serve as effective distractions. These activities shift focus away from negative emotions associated with hangxiety, promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation.

CTA background

We’re here to help you find your way

Do you have more questions about hangxiety? Reach out.

Mindfulness and Perspective


Practicing mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment, which can help in managing racing thoughts associated with hangxiety. By acknowledging and observing one's thoughts without judgment, individuals can create a sense of calm amidst anxiety episodes. Taking the time to ground oneself in the present moment can significantly impact one's mood and overall well-being.

Positive Outlook

Adopting a positive perspective is crucial when dealing with hangxiety. Instead of dwelling on negative thoughts and outcomes, shifting focus towards positive aspects of life can help maintain a healthy balance. Engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment can counteract the effects of anxiety, promoting a more optimistic outlook on things.

Benefits of Mindfulness Practices

Engaging in mindfulness practices offers various benefits for individuals experiencing hangxiety. By dedicating time to mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises, people can learn to manage their thoughts effectively. These practices enable individuals to cultivate a sense of inner peace and reduce the impact of external stressors on their mental state.

Strategies for Managing Hangxiety

  1. Practice deep breathing exercises to calm the mind and body.

  2. Engage in mindfulness meditation to enhance self-awareness.

  3. Focus on gratitude by keeping a journal of positive experiences.

  4. Connect with supportive people who understand your struggles.

  5. Establish a consistent routine for better sleep quality.

  6. Identify triggers that contribute to hangxiety episodes and develop coping mechanisms.

Embracing mindfulness techniques not only helps in managing racing thoughts but also empowers individuals to navigate challenging situations with greater ease. By incorporating these practices into daily life, individuals can build resilience against anxiety factors and improve their overall well-being.

Are Hangovers the Sign of a Bigger Problem?

It’s essential to note that experiencing hangovers and hangxiety does not necessarily mean that an individual has a drinking problem. However, it can be a warning sign of excessive alcohol consumption and potential issues with alcohol abuse.

Moreover, individuals who struggle with underlying anxiety disorders may be more prone to experiencing hangxiety after heavy drinking as their brain chemistry is already imbalanced.

How Do I Know if I'm Drinking Too Much?

The recommended limit for alcohol consumption is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. However, this can vary depending on age, weight, and other factors.

If you feel like your drinking habits are causing negative effects on your mental or physical well-being, it’s essential to seek support from a healthcare professional or a trusted friend or family member. They can help you determine if your alcohol consumption is excessive and provide resources for managing it.

CTA background

We’re here to help you find your way

Do you need advice about hangxiety? Reach out today.

I Get Hangovers a Lot. Does That Mean I Have a Drinking Problem?

Not necessarily. Some individuals may have a higher tolerance for alcohol and not experience severe hangovers or hangxiety, while others are more sensitive to its effects.

However, if you consistently experience hangovers and feel anxious or uneasy the following day, it’s important to reflect on your drinking habits and seek support if necessary. Keep track of your alcohol consumption and how it affects your mental and physical well-being to gain a better understanding of your relationship with alcohol.

Evaluating Your Drinking Habits

If you’re finding more of your mornings are turning into mornings after, it might be a good time to examine your drinking habits. Like other forms of addiction, a problem with alcohol can be a little tricky to figure out.


Assess your drinking habits by reflecting on the frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption. Consider how many drinks you have per week.

Evaluate whether drinking alcohol affects your physical health, mental well-being, or stomach. Recognize patterns in your behavior when consuming alcohol.

Identifying Triggers

Recognize triggers that lead to excessive drinking, such as stress, social situations, or emotional distress. Reflect on situations where you tend to consume more alcohol.

Identify specific emotions or environments that make you more prone to overindulging in alcohol. Understanding these triggers can help you avoid them in the future.

Modifying Behaviors

Modify your drinking behaviors by setting limits on the number of drinks you have per occasion. Create a plan to reduce hangxiety by pacing yourself and alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Seek support from friends or family members to hold yourself accountable for moderating your alcohol intake. Consider seeking professional help if you find it challenging to control your drinking habits.

Seeking Professional Help

If you think you DO have a drinking problem, you’re not alone. There are multiple resources available for treating alcohol problems.

Therapy Role

Therapy plays a crucial role in managing hangxiety by providing individuals with coping strategies and tools to navigate their anxiety effectively. Therapists help patients identify triggers, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and work through underlying issues contributing to their anxiety disorders.

Therapy sessions offer a safe space for individuals to express their thoughts and emotions openly, fostering self-awareness and emotional regulation. By addressing the root causes of hangxiety, therapy can lead to long-term improvements in mental well-being.

Counseling Benefits

Counseling for hangxiety involves personalized treatment plans tailored to each individual's needs. Counselors utilize various therapeutic approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients challenge negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with anxiety.

One-on-one counseling sessions provide a supportive environment where individuals can explore their feelings, fears, and concerns related to hangxiety. Counselors equip patients with practical tools to manage stress, improve self-esteem, and enhance overall mental health.

Resources for Help

For those seeking professional assistance for hangxiety, several resources are available. Individuals can consult licensed therapists, psychologists, or counselors specializing in anxiety disorders. Online therapy platforms offer convenient access to virtual counseling sessions from the comfort of one's home.

Support groups and community organizations focused on mental health provide additional avenues for individuals to connect with others facing similar challenges. These platforms offer peer support, valuable insights, and a sense of belonging that can aid in overcoming hangxiety.

CTA background

We’re here to help you find your way

Would you like more information about hangxiety? Reach out today.

Experiencing Hangxiety? Might be Time for a Change

Understanding the causes of hangxiety, managing its symptoms, and evaluating your drinking habits are crucial steps in taking control of your well-being. Remember, seeking professional help is always a valuable option if you find yourself struggling to cope with hangxiety alone.

Experiencing hangovers frequently isn’t good for you. Alcohol is very hard on the body. Worse, if alcohol abuse is untreated it’s potentially fatal. The complications of alcohol abuse include physical signs like a red nose, serious disorders like wet brain, and even death. Waiting for rock bottom is always a mistake; rock bottom is always a little further than you think and picking yourself up can be hard.

The Forge Recovery Center provides effective treatment for alcohol use disorder and more. With us, you’ll be able to safely explore the roots of your issues with alcohol. If you’re ready to explore a life where the morning after means a good night’s sleep, contact The Forge Recovery Center today.

Newsletter banner

Sign up for our newsletter

Stay updated with the latest news, resources, and updates from The Forge Recovery Center.