If you experience anxiety after a night of heavy drinking, you\u2019re not alone. Colloquially coined \u201changxiety,\u201d many binge drinkers feel\u00a0hyperarousal in the form of\u00a0stress, shakes, guilt and worry from\u00a0heavy drinking. Learn some of the reasons behind hangover anxiety. What Causes Hangover Anxiety? If you\u2019re binge drinking or drinking several days a week, alcohol could be causing more than just headaches and a queasy stomach the next day. It could be a culprit of anxiety. This type of anxiety goes beyond worry over your antics from the previous night and includes physical and psychological symptoms. Hangover anxiety is a real issue\u00a0that\u00a0can indicate your drinking\u00a0could be a problem\u00a0and\u00a0perhaps you\u00a0should consider\u00a0alcohol rehab. Reasons for\u00a0hangxiety\u00a0include: Rebound Anxiety: The Boomerang Effect In the moment, alcohol may ease nervousness and\u00a0uncertainty, making you feel\u00a0relaxed and a little giddy. That\u2019s because ethanol acts on receptors in the brain (GABA receptors) responsible for making you feel calm. The problem is that this relaxed feeling is short-lived. When your nervous system receives \u201csedating\u00a0signals,\u201d it goes into overdrive in an effort to restore balance. This can cause hyperarousal and make you feel more anxious once your body metabolizes alcohol. Serotonin Syndrome: Too Much of a Good Thing Serotonin is often called the \u201chappy chemical\u201d because of its impact on positive feelings and sense of wellbeing. Found in the brain and blood, serotonin plays a role in emotions, appetite, sleep and motor functions. Alcohol can temporarily boost levels of serotonin. The serotonin excess contributes to decreased inhibitions and the \u201cup\u201d feeling you may get after drinking alcohol. However, too much serotonin backfires.\u00a0Research\u00a0suggests excessive serotonin contributes to feelings of panic, agitation and anxiety. This may happen\u00a0toward the end of a drinking episode or the next day (hangover anxiety). Serotonin syndrome is the same reason why there are warnings on antidepressants\u00a0like\u00a0selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that urge\u00a0people not to mix them with alcohol. Too much serotonin can\u00a0cause undesirable symptoms. Mind-Body Connection: Physical Symptoms of Anxiety Overdoing it with alcohol can cause physical symptoms that mimic those of anxiety. For instance, when you abuse alcohol you can experience a drop in blood sugar as well as dehydration. Sometimes these imbalances can leave you feeling weak, dizzy, shaky, nauseous, and bring about heart palpitations and confusion. Physiological symptoms of anxiety can\u00a0trigger\u00a0psychological anxiety symptoms like ruminations, worry and dread. Slumber\u00a0Sabotager: Disrupted Sleep Patterns It seems counterintuitive that alcohol has sedating qualities but also disrupts sleep. However,\u00a0research\u00a0shows alcohol abuse can negatively impact sleep in a number of ways. You may fall asleep faster after a night of drinking, but the quality of sleep is poor. Alcohol can cause erratic breathing patterns and snoring. It can decrease REM sleep, which plays an important part in the restorative part of slumber, memory and mood. After your liver metabolizes alcohol, the sedative quality wears off and you may wake up throughout the night and earlier in the morning. Studies\u00a0show\u00a0sleep disturbances are highly linked to anxiety disorders, exacerbating symptoms such as irritability. Pre-Existing Anxiety Disorders: Fueling the Fire If you already have an anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse can compound your symptoms. Some\u00a0research\u00a0shows people with anxiety disorders are two or three times more likely to abuse substances. Self-medicating anxiety with alcohol can feel like the perfect solution at first. It may help grease the wheels for social interactions, slow down the rumination hamster wheel\u00a0in your brain, and relax you. In actuality, alcohol abuse makes your anxiety worse. It\u2019s a temporary fix that can lead to long-term problems. You begin needing more and more alcohol to feel normal and may even begin using it in the mornings to stave off anxiety rebound when your body withdraws from alcohol. Alcohol Addiction: Physical and Psychological Dependence With continued abuse, you\u2019re at risk for developing a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. You may feel unable to face social situations without it. You may experience withdrawal symptoms in the absence of alcohol like anxiety as well as tremors, headaches, insomnia, nausea, mood swings and heart palpitations. Can alcohol cause anxiety?\u00a0Yes. It can also make an existing anxiety disorder much worse.\u00a0Whether alcohol abuse or anxiety came first, specialized treatment that addresses both issues\u00a0can help you\u00a0recover from these difficulties\u00a0and live a life free of addiction.