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Can Drinking Make Anxiety Worse?

Alcohol and anxiety often go hand in hand. For some people, a glass of red wine is the ideal way to calm nerves. For some individuals, their anxiety actually feels increased when drinking alcohol. This begs the question, can drinking make anxiety worse?

Yes. Drinking alcohol can make your anxiety worse. If you are dependent on alcohol, you will likely feel symptoms of anxiety while you are withdrawing. If you suffer from diagnosed anxiety, alcohol may interact with your neurotransmitters and do you more harm than good, even if you are not dependent on alcohol. 

For a more comprehensive answer to this question, keep reading. This guide fully explains how alcohol can make anxiety worse and what you should do if you believe your anxiety is caused by alcohol dependence.

Can Drinking Alcohol Make Anxiety Worse? 

As explained above, alcohol can make your anxiety worse. Alcohol affects the neurotransmitter levels in your brain. Altering these levels can lead to anxiety and depression. If you already struggle with anxiety, drinking alcohol can make this worse.

Furthermore, individuals with diagnosed anxiety often take medication. In some cases, the alcohol and medication interact, rendering the medication less effective. As such, you may feel more anxiety after drinking alcohol.

Alcohol-related anxiety is not just an issue for people who already suffer from anxiety disorders. Individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction and dependence often experience anxiety due to their dependence. If you are dependent on alcohol and reduce your alcohol consumption, you will likely experience a lot of anxiety.

The Connection Between Anxiety and Alcohol 

Not only can alcohol make anxiety worse, but there seems to be a connection between anxiety and alcohol. Some studies have shown that individuals who suffer from social anxiety disorder suffer from co-occurring alcohol dependence. In fact, as much as 20% of individuals with this social anxiety disorder are dependent on alcohol.

This unique fact seems to suggest that there is a connection between anxiety and alcohol dependence. Some experts believe that this connection is due to the fact that alcohol does have a calming effect at first. So, individuals who suffer from social anxiety disorder reach for alcohol in order to calm themselves in social scenarios. This is especially true in social scenarios where alcohol is available. Unfortunately, this often leads to addiction. 

Signs of Alcohol Dependence 

If you have not experienced anxiety before and now experience anxiety after you stop drinking, you may be dependent on alcohol. Recognizing the signs of alcohol dependence will help you to know if you need medical intervention. Some signs to look out for include:

  • Need a drink every morning to get going
  • Heavily drinking for at least four days out of the week
  • An inability to stop drinking
  • Drinking 5+ drinks in one day

Another way to gauge alcohol dependence is to look for signs of withdrawal. if you experience withdrawal whenever you stop drinking alcohol, you likely are dependent on the substance. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety 
  • Trembling 
  • Seating 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Vomiting 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Seizures 

Withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that they lead to death in some cases. For this reason, it is imperative to seek medical detox treatment if you are experiencing withdrawals from alcohol dependence.

Get Help with Hillcrest Recovery 

Because alcohol increases anxiety, you should not drink alcohol if you experience anxiety already. Likewise, anxiety can be a sign of alcohol dependence. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing anxiety after quitting alcohol, contact Hillcrest Recovery for recovery options. Hillcrest Recovery is a top rehab facility in the San Fernando Valley that can help you detox safely and receive the treatment you need.

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