hangxiety graphic (png) - Taniya Spolia

The 11 shots from last night always feel like a bad idea the next morning. We’ve all experienced headaches, nausea and grogginess that follow a good night at the bars, but there's a type of hangover that many don't talk about. 

It’s called "hangxiety" (pronounced hangz-eye-ity).

Essentially it’s a state you fall into the morning after drinking that's characterized by a pressing feeling of general anxiety, depression and restlessness surrounding the prior night. 

The mechanism behind the whole debacle rests in our mind. Our brain is made up of small chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. At first when you drink levels of gamma-aminobutyric, or GABA increases and levels of glutamate and noradrenaine decreases. This collectively calms the brain, reduces noise and reduces stress.

At this point, you’re feeling pretty good but your body’s getting confused. 

As this imbalance of chemicals is revealed, your body attempts to fix things with a compensation tactic. It produces a sudden increase in glutamate levels and noradrenaline and tries to reduce GABA, a sign your body is trying to return to its norm.

And this is what leads to anxiety. 

It can often take a couple of days before you return to normal and your neurotransmitters work in a regulated fashion. 

Those who are more timid or shy by nature report feeling more anxious the next morning than those who have a mellow personality. 

As you think back to the night before, there are gaps in your memory that let you rerun different narratives to feel anxious about. Those with social anxiety will naturally dwell more on this aspect than those without. 

Unlike the headaches and nausea we can relieve with a Tylenol (or Gatorade), hangxiety comes with no remedy. But, it’s important to be aware that it exists and is completely normal. A few days later, any side effects from the alcohol will wear off, but if you’re not enjoying the feeling, slowing down on the drinks may not be a terrible idea.  

An article from Today sums it up pretty well — “Don’t drink because you feel like you have to. Raise a glass because you want to.” 

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