Understanding Hangxiety and How It Impacts Mental Health

Updated March 15, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

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Is Alcohol Worsening Your Anxiety Symptoms?

Hangxiety is a term commonly used to describe feelings of anxiety and unease experienced after a night of heavy drinking. The physical and emotional symptoms of hangover-related anxiety can significantly impact an individual's mental health and well-being. While the physical effects of alcohol on the body are well-known, those who experience hangxiety may feel increased levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Some physical symptoms of hangxiety may include a rapid heartbeat, tremors, and sweating, which are also associated with generalized anxiety. These symptoms can be accompanied by psychological symptoms such as dread, guilt, and shame. Individuals may sometimes experience panic attacks or other severe anxiety symptoms. The physical and psychological symptoms of hangover-related anxiety can last for hours or even days, leading to prolonged distress and discomfort.

Hangxiety is a significant concern for individuals who experience anxiety and unease after heavy drinking and may experience increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. By understanding the impacts of hangxiety on mental health and seeking help if needed, individuals can take steps to manage its symptoms and improve their overall well-being. This may include adopting healthy coping strategies, drinking in moderation, or seeking professional help. A combination of these strategies can potentially provide individuals with the support and guidance they need to overcome hangxiety and improve their overall mental health.

The Science Of Hangxiety

Hangxiety is a phenomenon that has been widely experienced by individuals who consume alcohol. It is a feeling of anxiety, guilt, and regret experienced the morning after heavy drinking. Scientists have researched this phenomenon by studying the relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety, showing that alcohol affects the brain and can contribute to the onset of hangxiety. 

Alcohol is a depressant that affects the brain by slowing down the central nervous system. Forbes explains how alcohol can affect the body even after an individual is done drinking, “Why this happens is largely about how embattled our bodies and brains are from the chemical assault that comes with heavy drinking. Recovery from the ethanol siege takes time. The brain won’t return to form for many hours, perhaps more than a day in some cases. And attention, memory, reaction time, and decision-making abilities aren’t fully engaged until that happens. Believing we can jump right into our regular routines and perform as usual is unrealistic, as this research analysis shows.”

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Several factors can contribute to the onset of hangxiety. For example, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can play a role in increased anxiety levels and the start of hangxiety. Additionally, an individual's state of mind and emotional state can influence the onset of anxiety after drinking. If someone is already feeling anxious or stressed, the effects of alcohol can exacerbate these feelings. It is important to acknowledge that genetics, age, and overall health may also contribute to the onset of hangxiety.

The science and research behind hangxiety are beginning to highlight the complex relationship between alcohol consumption and mental health. Some people may seek out alcohol because it reduces anxiety at first, but excessive consumption can lead to further anxiety and other mental health concerns. Post-drinking anxiety is experienced by many individuals who consume alcohol, and understanding the science behind it can help individuals make informed decisions about their alcohol consumption. It is important for individuals to recognize the impact of alcohol on their mental health and seek help if they are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or other mental health issues.

The Physical Symptoms Of Hangxiety

Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, and muscle aches are commonly reported by those who experience hangxiety. These symptoms can be particularly uncomfortable and make already existing anxiety and unease worse. The headaches and nausea are usually caused by dehydration and toxic byproducts of alcohol in the bloodstream, while fatigue and muscle aches may result from disrupted sleep patterns or decreased physical activity. These physical symptoms can also increase heart rate and sweating, symptoms commonly associated with generalized anxiety. 

These physical symptoms can make it difficult for individuals to engage in self-care strategies, making it harder to manage their anxiety. Drinking plenty of water, eating healthy meals, and engaging in physical activity can help individuals manage their physical symptoms, feel more in control, and manage their anxiety more appropriately. 

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Is Alcohol Worsening Your Anxiety Symptoms?

The Psychological Symptoms Of Hangxiety

In addition to the physical symptoms, hangxiety can lead to various psychological symptoms, including increased anxiety and panic. Those experiencing hangxiety may feel intense worry, fear, or a sense of impending doom. Negative thought patterns and catastrophic thinking may also accompany these feelings, which can make the situation worse than it actually is. The guilt and shame associated with hangxiety can further contribute to negative thinking patterns and feelings of hopelessness.

The impact of hangxiety on mental health can be significant. Those who experience hangxiety may be at increased risk for developing depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and other mental health concerns. They may be more likely to engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage anxiety and distress. Understanding the psychological symptoms of hangxiety is important to recognize and seek help when needed. Developing coping strategies can also help deal with anxiety after drinking.

Coping Strategies For Hangxiety

Forbes quotes The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “Around twenty percent of individuals suffering from an anxiety or mood disorder also battle a substance use disorder and vice versa. Even though only twenty percent struggle with alcohol use to the point that it is considered a ‘disorder,’ the number who actually self-medicate for social anxiety is much higher. In a given month, thirty-seven percent of teens use alcohol, and much of that is often to reduce social anxiety.”

Hangxiety, or anxiety experienced after a night of heavy drinking, can be distressing and debilitating for those who experience it. However, some coping strategies can effectively manage the physical and psychological symptoms of hangxiety, including hydration and nutrition, exercise and movement, mindfulness and relaxation, and seeking professional help.

  • Hydration and Nutrition - Prioritizing hydration and nutrition can be an effective way to manage hangxiety symptoms. Drinking plenty of water is also important to counteract the dehydration that typically comes with heavy alcohol consumption; consuming nutrient-rich foods can help replenish the body's reserves. It can also be important to avoid consuming excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar, which can contribute to unstable blood sugar levels and worsen anxiety symptoms.

  • Exercise and Movement - Regular exercise and movement can be a powerful tool for managing anxiety and improving overall well-being. Exercise has been shown to release endorphins, which can help to counteract the adverse effects of stress and anxiety on the body. Additionally, incorporating movement into daily routines can help to promote physical activity and reduce stress levels.

  • Mindfulness and Relaxation - Incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques into daily routines can also help to manage hangxiety symptoms. Practicing mindfulness means being fully present in a moment. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and muscle relaxation are some examples of mindfulness practices that can be done at home while experiencing hangxiety. 

  • Seeking Professional Help - Sometimes, managing hangxiety symptoms may require seeking professional help. A therapist or counselor can offer support and guidance on managing anxiety and developing effective coping strategies. It may be important to find a qualified mental health provider who specializes in treating anxiety disorders and is familiar with hangxiety. Seeking professional help for hangxiety can give individuals the tools to overcome their symptoms and improve their overall mental health and well-being.

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Finding Hangxiety Support Online

Online therapy can be a valuable tool for individuals seeking to understand hangxiety and its impact on mental health. Online therapy provides flexibility to schedule sessions at a convenient time, which can be important for individuals who may be experiencing symptoms of hangxiety at unpredictable times. Another benefit of online therapy is that it can be accessed from the comfort of home, eliminating the need for travel to in-person therapy. This can be particularly helpful for individuals experiencing fatigue or nausea symptoms that might make it difficult to leave their homes. By providing accessibility and flexibility, online therapy can be a valuable resource for those seeking to understand hangxiety and its impact on their mental health.

One study focused on “Intervention goals focused on reducing drinking to within lower risk levels, alongside reducing symptoms of depression, and where participants could include heavy drinking individuals not currently in contact with or seeking treatment from general or specialist healthcare providers.” It found that “existing reviews of the effectiveness of digital interventions for excessive drinking suggest moderate‐quality evidence that they are effective in reducing mean weekly alcohol consumption and in achieving adherence to low-risk drinking limits.” For people drinking in excess and experiencing anxiety afterward, online therapy or digital intervention may be a practical step in mitigating symptoms.


Hangxiety is a common experience for individuals who have consumed alcohol and can significantly impact their mental health and well-being. Understanding the relationship between alcohol consumption and anxiety, as well as the factors contributing to the onset of hangxiety, can help individuals manage its symptoms and improve their overall mental health. Seeking help through online therapy can be a beneficial resource for those experiencing hangxiety, providing a convenient and accessible way to access professional support and guidance. By adopting healthy coping strategies, seeking professional help, and potentially reducing alcohol consumption, individuals can take proactive steps to manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

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