Beer Fear, the Sunday Scaries, Hangxiety – all followed by a Blue Monday. What is it about alcohol that causes these low feelings of anxiety, exhaustion and depression.
#1 Lack of memory from ‘blacking out’ – Blackouts are caused when our blood alcohol level reaches such a high point that our hippocampus (responsible for memory formation) becomes impaired and unable to save new memories. Lost memories during drinking can increase anxiety the following day as we try to piece together what happened. This lack of memory leaves us feeling confused and vulnerable as we try to piece together fragments of the day/night.
#2 Alcohol withdrawal – As alcohol leaves the body we are actively experiencing addiction withdrawal symptoms – making us feel all the more ill, shaky and jittery. Hair of the dog will work temporarily but leave you feeling all the more worse when that withdrawal comes around again.
#3 Alcohol blocks glutamate in the brain – Which stops our anxiety when we are drunk making us lose our inhibitions. The following day however the spike of glutamate comes flooding back hitting us with anxiety.
#4 Fight or flight – Alcohol causes a rise in noradrenaline, our fight or flight hormone. Suppressing stress while we are drunk, and increasing it in withdrawal, making us feel nervous and ‘on edge’.
#5 Disturbance in sleep – After drinking alcohol we fall (pass out) into a deep sleep, this reduces the amount of time we have in our natural REM sleep pattern (a crucial restorative stage of sleep). Meaning no matter how long we sleep for, we still wake up feeling exhausted.