Whenever I drink alcohol, I feel anxious the next day. Why?
You know the bodily symptoms of a hangover: fatigue, headache, and nausea. But anxiety and other mood problems (like irritability or feeling down) are also pretty common effects of drinking. For some people, these can be intense: If you have panic disorder, for example, heavy imbibing can trigger a panic attack, complete with shortness of breath and chest pain.
What gives? As your body removes the alcohol from your system, two things happen: Your blood sugar drops (because your body is diverting energy to excreting the booze rather than maintaining healthy glucose levels) and inflammation kicks in. Studies link the latter to mood changes and memory issues; an uptick in inflammatory chemicals can affect your nervous system. And low blood sugar can lead to feelings of nervousness.
Finally, because alcohol famously lowers your inhibitions, you might also be worried about your actions from the night before.
The best advice is to stick to one drink and never have more than two in one night. You can also try drinking water in between your cocktails.
Health‘s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and co-founder of Tula Skincare.