During the course of my nervous sickness I’ve heard a lot people say that anxiety sufferers should not drink alcohol basically stating that it will make you more nervous than you already are. I always found this to be ironic because there are so many anxiety sufferers that drink alcohol to cope with their anxiety – cruel world.
Now the fact that alcohol can cause anxiety is just that, a fact. It is a scientifically based understanding so this is not simple conjecture. Will alcohol affect all people this way? Probably not but as an anxiety sufferer you should be aware of the possible pitfalls of alcohol consumption so pay close attention.
Scientist believe that alcohol causes or at least increases anxiety in 6 basic ways and here they are.
1. Mood Alcohol can affect our mood because it can affect the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a feel good brain chemical that when in short supply can cause feelings of anxiety and depression.
2. Drop in blood sugar A drop in blood sugar can cause dizziness, confusion, weakness, nervousness, shaking and numbness. These symptoms can most certainly trigger a bout of anxiety.
3. Dehydration This has been known to cause nausea, dizziness, fatigue, lightheadedness and muscle weakness. These symptoms wouldn’t cause anxiety per say but they add to a sense of illness which fosters anxiety.
4. Nervous System The nervous system is affected because in order for the body to fight off the sedative effects of alcohol it puts the body into a state of hyperactivity in order to counteract this effect. This hyperactivity can lead to shaking, light/sound sensitivity and sleep deprivation.
5. Heart Rate Your heart rate can become elevated as a result of consuming alcohol which can cause a palpitation false alarm and put you into a state of anxious anticipation. Is it a heart attack or isn’t it you might ask. This “what if” questioning can increase your general state of anxiety.
6. Concentration A hard night of drinking can also make you hazy, bring on headaches and create a sense of disorientation.
Now if you’re going to have a glass of wine with dinner I don’t think you should be concerned. On the other hand if you’re a heavy drinker or binge drinker then this might cause a real problem for you.
According to The Times Online scientist don’t know exactly why all this happens but they do suggest that you eat before drinking, drink water in between drinks, and stay in bed if you are hungover to avoid all the problems I outlined above.
Some would say that maybe you shouldn’t drink at all if you have an anxiety disorder – that is debatable. Do you think that alcohol should be avoided at all cost when someone has an anxiety disorder?
I don’t think that alcohol should be avoided if drinking is part of your social repertoire however I also know that moderation and good sense should be your guide. In addition although alcohol does have a sedative effect it should not be used as a coping tool. This type of behavior can lead to alcoholism and worse yet, more anxiety.
So if you know that you’re a light weight or if you already know that alcohol makes you anxious don’t bother. Maybe I don’t need to say it but really some people just don’t know when to say no. Know your own limits then say no thanks and move on to the punch bowl.