1703995588 Hangxiety When a hangover makes you

“Hangxiety”: When a hangover makes you anxious

An article published in the Guardian in 2019 popularized the word “hangxiety,” a formula that emerged from the English words “hangover” and “angst.” The succinct term quickly became popular on WhatsApp groups and social media feeds, often accompanied by the “Literally me” meme. No one had given such a specific name to this cocktail of headaches, heart palpitations, restlessness, and a deep sense of guilt and unease brought on by the excessive mood the night before. It's not as simple as a hangover, it's much worse. Although in a time when the word “fear” can be combined with almost anything, to find a much more specific form of this emotion that can lead to a disorder – from eco-anxiety to facho-anxiety – it's worth it wondering if a hangover really causes anxiety. “The answer is: yes, Hangxiet is real,” replies Joaquín T. Limonero, president of the Spanish Society for the Study of Anxiety and Stress and coordinator of the university's Stress and Health Research Group, to EL PAÍS. Autonomous of Barcelona. Based on this, what causes it?

“It is a mixture that arises from biochemical changes in the brain caused by alcohol consumption and later by certain psychological factors.” According to the psychologist, alcohol acts on the main inhibitory neurotransmitter called Gaba, which is responsible for transmitting chemical messages from the brain to the nervous system is responsible, “and is the part of the brain that is most closely linked to decision-making.” Planning and where emotions are also made conscious.” “Alcohol stimulates Gaba, so you relax, calm down and have fun while drinking,” explains Joaquín Limonero. One drink and everything is good. Two or three, and the lack of control begins: you start to lower glutamate, the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. “More glutamate means more anxiety. “Less glutamate means less anxiety.” Simple. Pure chemistry. The problem is that the next day, when the sun shines through the window, a rebound effect occurs: “The brain tries to regulate itself and restore normal functional levels, which is why Gaba neurotransmitters decrease and glutamate increases. “. This feeling of glutamate activation creates the feeling of fear.

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But there are more factors than the imbalance between Gaba and glutamate. For example, increased cortisol levels. “Alcohol disrupts the natural cycle of cortisol, a hormone that naturally increases during the day, alerting us to possible dangers, and is reduced at night,” explains the psychologist. This hormone is often associated with stress because it stimulates our glucose production and, when our body senses danger, stops absorbing glucose and begins producing energy. When decompensating after drinking alcohol, anxiety increases because we are “more alert, active, and tense.” “Another factor that influences this feeling of anxiety is dehydration: we know that alcohol dehydrates and reduces the concentration of water in the body, which usually causes us to wake up with a headache.” In addition, due to this dehydration, our heart has to work harder. Another anxiety symptom? heart palpitations. “There is also the lack of sleep: when we drink alcohol, we sleep worse,” adds the psychologist. Lack of sleep also leads to fatigue and irritation. In other words, it can promote anxiety.

In addition, we must not forget other psychological elements. The guilt and regret come from the feeling of not knowing exactly what we did the night before, whether we made a fool of ourselves or whether we crossed the line by, for example, having an inappropriate conversation with someone from our work environment over Christmas drinks joke or when we send a message to an ex. “We have hazy memories of the night before, which can put us in a state of excitement caused by uncertainty and regret: 'What will they think of me?'” explains Limonero, who also reiterates that context is important , but not It's the same as getting drunk with friends or colleagues. When in doubt, it is better not to drink more than necessary.

Feelings of guilt and regret over doing or saying something wrong contribute to anxiety the next day.Feelings of guilt and regret for doing or saying the wrong thing contribute to anxiety the day after. Milko (Getty Images)

There is a simple solution to the problem: don't drink. And period. But let's be realistic, especially during this time. “Remember that this is something temporary, like the hangover itself, which can last a few hours or a few days,” says the psychologist, who also recommends seeing a specialist in case of prolonged anxiety. in mental health. And above all, if we suffer from an anxiety disorder, it is best to drink as little as possible to avoid discomfort the next day.

As for the remedy, every neighborhood kid has his or her own cure for a terrible hangover, but everyone agrees on one or more points: drink plenty of water, rest, and take medication if necessary to stop the headache. Would it be advisable to take an anti-anxiety medication? “For me that would be counterproductive,” says Joaquín T. Limonero, “the best thing is to drink enough fluids, eat healthily even if your body craves junk food, take vitamin B and not consume caffeine to take, because that activates us again.” What we want is to find peace.” Like all life.