110—We know that alcohol is relaxing, but did you know that...

Alcohol causes anxiety

What goes down...
must come up!

I’ve been meaning to tell you this for ages, as it’s something that I constantly tell my clients who suffer from mood disorders: alcohol causes anxiety.

And, considering that we’re now ‘essentially’ being plied with alcohol during our NZ lockdown, I thought it was as good a time as any to share this information with you all.

When one inebriates oneself...

You know when you’ve been out for a raging night on the ‘turps’, you’ve come home in the wee-small-hours, and all you want to do is to sleep for as long as humanly possible that day?

Instead you wake really early, after only a few short hours of sleep, feeling totally wired.  You spend the next few agonising hours tossing, turning, fretting, cringing, and seeking solace from your pillow, as you desperately try to stop the blow-by-blow action replay (in your head) of all the things you said and did while under the influence 🥴😳😬🙈

Well, don’t think you’re special!
Because it happens to the best of us.

Whether you’re a weekend binge drinker, or you simply prefer to drink your fill over the entirety of the week, alcohol causes anxiety.

It's like making a deal with the Demon

When we over-consume alcohol it initially has an acutely calming & intoxicating affect on us. (Which is often why us anxious folk ‘turn to the bottle’ in the first place.)

Drinking large ‘doses’ of booze makes us feel super chill-lax as it causes our body to ramp up its GABA production. This neurotransmitter has a tranquillising affect on our body.

Unfortunately, our pesky body insists that we be in balance at all times (homeostasis). So, in order to compensate for all this booze and ‘chill-lax-ation’, our body reacts by equally ramping up our Glutamate production as soon as the alcohol wears-off. (Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that has a stimulating effect on our body.)

Excessive glutamate production drives maladaptive structural & functional brain changes that not only lead to anxiety, but also to depression, sleep dysfunction, OCD, addictions, and stress; which negatively impacts our immune system.

Here’s a blog-post I wrote about excessive glutamate being a driver of depression.

To a lesser extent — how alcohol causes anxiety

You’ll find that as you get older, that even if you have a couple of drinks at a ‘reasonable’ hour of the night —  and you then go to bed at a ‘reasonable’ hour — that while the alcohol will allow you get to sleep easily enough, that it will then interrupt your slumber throughout the night, causing you to have a generally crappy sleep 😴😳💩

Or, you may find that you specifically wake at around 2—3am in the morning all hot, bothered and in dire need of getting the bed sheet off yourself. This is due to your liver having to work over-time to metabolise the alcohol.

Alcohol depletes the following nutrients in our body

These nutrients are important for (among other things) managing our stress and promoting a healthy immune system:

A, D, E, K, C, B1, B6, B12, folic acid, inositol, and biotin

Zinc, magnesium, potassium, and selenium,

SAMe & Betaine

In general.

Constantly drowning your sorrows upsets your tomorrows

Ain’t nothing wrong with having a stiff drink as a simple pleasure, a reward, or to settle thy nerves. 🙏🏻

However, it’s when you start using it on a frequent basis — or to excess — that you begin running into problems.

Because you’ll find that the more you depend on alcohol to manage your everyday psychological stress, the more you’ll find that you suffer from an actual physical stress.

Continued alcohol exposure will mean that you have to drink more to get the desired effect (as your tolerance increases), and you’ll have to drink frequently so as not to experience the undesirable effects of withdrawal. Up-regulation of your receptors means that your body will also anxiously await its next ‘fix’ — and won’t experience relief until it gets it1 😬

Lisa says:

If you know what I'm-talkin-about...

If you have minor to moderate issues in this department, all you need to do is make sure that you drink no more than two nights weekly — and that you only consume moderate amounts of alcohol.

According to the NZ Ministry of health, here are our ‘drinking’ guidelines:

For Women:
Two standard drinks a day for women.

(And no more than 10 standard drinks a week.)

For Men:
Three standard drinks a day for men.
(And no more than 15 standard drinks a week.)

and at least 2 alcohol-free days every week.

Note: I would argue that over a standard week you should only drink twice weekly, and have 5x alcohol-free days every week.

If you have serious issues in this department (and you’re not a diagnosed alcoholic) it’s time to visit your Naturopath. We can help to support you naturally, with specific nutrients, to help you to withdraw from alcohol, and to balance your brain chemistry.

After this, we may find that you don’t suffer from anxiety or depression at all…🧐

Which came first — the anxiety or the alcohol?

Alcohol causes anxiety? Or, anxiety causes alcohol? 🐓🍳

If the reason you started drinking alcohol was because you suffer from anxiety, then we had better provide you with some better, more appropriate ways to manage this condition.

Please see other blog-posts that I’ve written on anxiety:
Are you stuck in flight mode?
Anxiety sux big ones

Preserve your sanity by not getting pickled.

For more articles that I've written on alcohol

Make an appointment with Lisa

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.

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