Anxiety and Alcohol: A Bad Combination


Millions of people of all walks of life suffer from anxiety.

In our fast-paced, over-achieving society, this is easy to understand. Anxiety is usually caused by excess stress related to work, family or financial worries. When a person begins to suffer anxiety frequently, it can disrupt life, causing problems like depression, generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. People who experience anxiety know how scary and disruptive it can be.

Anxiety involves a wide variety of symptoms, and the combinations are different with each person. Some of these symptoms include: a pounding heart, irritability, apprehension, hyperventilation and weakness. When a person experiences these symptoms, he or she looks for a way to make them stop.

Unfortunately, one of the most common ways people use to combat anxiety is by drinking alcohol. After a particularly rough day at work, or an argument with a spouse, a beer or glass of wine seems to ease away the stress and anxiety of the day. However, using alcohol to treat anxiety can backfire, causing problems, such as alcohol addiction, and increased anxiety.


Research has shown that alcohol consumption can actually cause anxiety. This can happen in many different ways, and almost always makes the anxiety problem worse. Following are some of the reasons anxiety and alcohol don’t mix.


Alcohol is known to affect levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that makes people feel good. If serotonin is in short supply, depression and increased anxiety can occur.



Alcohol can cause dehydration. Dehydration happens when more fluids are exiting the body than entering it. It can be dangerous, because it’s milder symptoms, such as weakness, dizziness and muscle spasms can worsen, and lead to serious problems, even unconsciousness. Alcohol causes dehydration, and it’s symptoms can mimic those of anxiety. This combination just makes anxiety worse.

 Central Nervous System

After a person drinks alcohol, the body attempts to counteract its effects by creating a hyperactive state. Hyperactivity can cause sleep deprivation, trembling and sensitivities to sound and light. Anxiety can by a byproduct of these symptoms.

 Blood Sugar

Drinking alcohol causes the blood sugar to drop. When this happens, symptoms such as dizziness, nervousness and confusion occur. These feelings often lead to a full-blown anxiety attack. This is another reason that anxiety and alcohol don’t mix.

 Disappearing Effects

While alcohol may seem to ease the effects of anxiety, a person will eventually reach a point where they can drink no more. The effects of the alcohol begin to wear off, and more anxiety ensues. If more alcohol is consumed, the person will likely lose consciousness, and suffer severe anxiety the next day, due to the effects of the alcohol on the nervous system.

It is unfortunate when people self-medicate their anxiety with alcohol. While the anxiety seems to subside, it can get worse, and lead to severe anxiety, panic disorders, and alcohol abuse as well. The best way to treat anxiety is to consult a physician who can recommend help in the form of counseling, relaxation techniques or even medication if needed. The bottom line is: anxiety and alcohol should never be mixed.