Anxiety is part of life for many people. We often feel anxious when we are faced with a problem or a stressful situation of some kind, and this is normal. However, many people feel more than just temporary anxiety. They have prolonged periods or intense bursts of anxiety on a regular basis.
Two of the most common anxiety issues experienced are general anxiety and social anxiety.
A person suffering from general anxiety may face symptoms such as tense muscles, consistent restlessness, trouble with concentration and erratic sleep patterns whilst a person suffering from social anxiety may face symptoms such as fearing situations in which they may be judged, worrying about embarrassing or humiliating themselves or expecting the worst possible scenario during a social situation.
It is no wonder that a person living with any of these symptoms would turn to alcohol as a way to reduce or escape them.
Alcohol is a sedative and a depressant that affects the central nervous system in a similar way to anxiety medications.
At first, drinking can reduce fears and take your mind off your troubles. It can help you feel less shy, give you a boost in mood, and make you feel generally relaxed.
Sounds like a pretty good solution right?
Let’s look at how it generally plays out.
You’re about to go out to a social function with a few colleagues from work and as you are getting ready, you notice you are beginning to worry about humiliating yourself and being judged, so you decide to have a drink or two beforehand and you begin to relax.
You continue to drink as the night goes on, ensuring you don’t drink too much, but just enough to keep you at a comfortable level away from the anxiety.
So far so good - You and the alcohol are friends.
Later on, in the taxi home, you begin to feel the alcohol wearing off. As it’s wearing off you are becoming conscious that all night you weren’t actually being your true self, you were wearing a mask. You notice shame begin to arise but you quickly block it out and allow yourself to pass out when you get home.
The next morning you have a hangover. It’s gone by midday. You’re lucky, this was a shorter one.
The common alcohol hangover lasts 12-24 hours whilst the common effect of alcohol only lasts 1.5-3 hours.
That’s a lot of post suffering for a temporary solution.
So is alcohol a good friend for anxiety? Unfortunately No.
As a matter of fact, it’s one that causes you more harm than good.
Alcohol changes levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which can worsen anxiety. In fact, you may feel more anxious after the alcohol wears off.
Alcohol-induced anxiety can last for several hours, or even for an entire day after drinking.
The worst part is, you begin to become alcohol dependent which means your anxiety becomes harder to manage on your own.
This can make your life more difficult because you cannot be intoxicated at places such as the workplace and you may begin to experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal which can actually aggravate your anxiety.
The good news is, there are more natural ways to cope with anxiety and to heal it completely.
Fore more information about how to manage anxiety naturally, click on the link below to read our recent blog ‘Natural Ways to Manage Anxiety’.
If you would like to find out how to get to the root cause of your anxiety and get rid of it for good, you can find out more about our Mental Health Program by booking in your Free Initial Consultation.
Chanel De King, Therapist at The Melbourne Centre of Healing
Specialists in Addiction Recovery (including Ice Addiction) and Mental Health at our Addiction Rehab Centre in Melbourne, Australia.