Why Alcohol Causes Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Many of us drink alcohol as a way to unwind and relax and as it is a ‘depressant’ which can help us to forget our worries, it stands to reason that this should be a great treatment for a hard day in the office. It might surprise you then to learn that over time excessive alcohol consumption actually increases anxiety and can even induce panic attacks. You should never self medicate for any kind of low or bad mood with alcohol as this is a fast track to alcoholism and also a sure fire way to worsen those symptoms in the long run as we will see here.

Following are the ways in which alcohol consumption causes anxiety.

Serotonin Depletion: First of all, alcohol consumption over a long period of time leads to a depletion of serotonin in the brain. As serotonin is a ‘happiness’ hormone this can lead to depression, and depression itself is linked to anxiety.

Dehydration: Alcohol consumption also results in dehydration and though this isn’t anxiety in itself, many of the symptoms can make anxiety worse such as headaches, dizziness, haziness and headaches.

Heart Rate: Though alcohol is a depressant it can cause the heart rate to speed up over time and this can then cause us to become more anxious. In some cases we might mistake this elevated heart rate for a heart palpitation or heart attack and this is often the cause of panic attacks and also makes them much worse.

Drop in Blood Sugar: After drinking a lot of alcohol we can be left with low blood sugar. This then results in more shakiness, tiredness and depression which again can all contribute to and worsen anxiety.

Nervous System: When you awake with a hangover your body will be trying to combat the sedative effects of alcohol which it does by making you hypersensitive to light and noise – thus making you more twitchy and more likely to suffer a heart attack, as well as making you cower when the curtains open first thing.

1 comment

  1. Anonymous Reply
    June 22, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks-this information is very helpful and actually calms my panic attacks.

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