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People Are Giving Up Drinking To Avoid Hangover Anxiety

Patrick 9 Sep 2019

It's a feeling that likely most of us will have experienced, that sensation of, "Oh God what kind of a state was I in last night?"

Hangover anxiety can be a horrific feeling, with thoughts of fear and embarrassment spiraling around your head—and most often, they're completely unfounded.

Hangover anxiety, or "Hangxiety", is so bad for some people, that they've decided to quit drinking altogether.

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It's certainly understandable that some people would turn to this measure. There is, after all, few feelings worse than waking up and trying to piece together how, and with what magnitude, of an embarrassment you were, sticking bits of red strings between bars on a map trying to Colombo your way to an answer.

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The reason that Hangxiety is so bad after a heavy night, is due to alcohol's withdrawal symptoms.

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When the effects of alcohol begin to wear off, your body will experience symptoms similar to those which an alcoholic will suffer, which according Drinkaware's website describes as, "These symptoms can be psychological such as feeling depressed or anxious."

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The reason why we can feel anxious during alcohol withdrawal can also be due to hormonal imbalance.

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According to professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, David Nutt, alcohol causes a rise in the fight-or-flight hormone, known as noradrenaline.

In an interview with the Guardian, Nutt explained, "Noradrenaline suppresses stress when you first take it, and increases it in withdrawal. Severe anxiety can be considered a surge of noradrenaline in the brain.”

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Hangxiety, however, does not effect everyone the same.

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Professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter, Celia Morgan, explained in the same interview that people who are shy are potentially more exposed to the effects of Hangxiety.

This is because, "people who are more highly anxious are more prone to rumination, going over thoughts about the night before, so that’s another potential mechanism."

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Hangxiety is so bad for some people that they have chosen to quit drinking.

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With the discussion around Hangxiety being more common, people have been sharing their stories with choosing a completely sober life due to the effects of hangover anxiety being so prevalent in them.

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28-year-old Millie Gooch started the website "Sober Girl Society" to advocate against Hangxiety.

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Ms Gooch advocates for total sobriety. She claims that her life is much more enriched and productive without Hangxiety.

On her page she writes, "As someone who defined herself by how hard she could party (turns out, too hard), I worried that sobriety would leave me friendless and without a social life. Not only have my relationships with my existing friends strengthened but I’ve made new absolute besties too."

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For other people, however, the answer is simply to moderate your drinking.

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For one 26-year-old who used to work in the music industry in London, Hangxiety was so damaging that she changed her career path to one which requires less late-night socialising.

In an interview with UniLad, the PR executive explained that cutting down her drinking has really helped her anxiety. She explained her decision was based upon how drinking too much made her feel: "My panic often centres around health so you can see how feeling like you’ve inflicted feeling like crap on yourself can trigger thoughts about death."

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Campaigns such as Dry January, and Go Sober For October also warn against Hangxiety.

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One of the psychologists in support of Go Sober For October told UniLad:

"As alcohol leaves the body during the night, it also depletes your levels of serotonin, the chemical that regulates our mood, so you might feel even more stressed the next day.

If you’ve had a pretty standard hangover before and then get your first proper hangxiety attack, you are much more likely to have them in the future."

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Though Hangxiety is a very unpleasant feeling, does that mean you should stop drinking completely?

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While stopping will work for some people, and potentially you, everyone is different, and so simply moderating your drinking may also work. When it comes down to it, you should do what works for you and not someone else, do what make you feel good and live your best life.

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Hopefully, for you, Hangxiety may not affect you... in which case, I envy you, you lucky sod.

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Hangovers are terrible experiences regardless of whether or not you are particularly prone to Hangxiety. There have been many times this year when I've ardently claimed, "I'm never getting that drunk again." Who knows, maybe this year will be the year when I finally do Go Sober For October; although, best-laid-plans and all that jazz!

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