Is My Alcohol Use Contributing to My Anxiety?

By September 7, 2023September 8th, 2023Alcohol Use and Anxiety
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Does Alcohol Cause Anxiety?

Yes.

Although women often turn to alcohol to help them ease pre-existing anxiety, alcohol worsens our anxiety over time. Alcohol has dampening effects on the nervous system that make it seem as though it helps in the moment to aid with anxiety, but actually makes anxiety more serious of a problem once the intoxication wears off.

Anxiety is a symptom of alcohol withdrawal, as well, so using alcohol directly increases anxiety through the withdrawal mechanism. Also, alcohol doesn’t erase or heal underlying anxiety or its triggers.

Understanding the Impact of Alcohol Use and Abuse

 

Is My Alcohol Use Contributing to My Anxiety?

Alcohol use has a tendency to lead towards greater use and abuse of the substance. That’s because alcohol is highly habit forming, and because it creates impacts in the brain and body that then further impel a person towards drinking just to counteract these unpleasant sensations.

Whatever a woman’s original reasons for relying on alcohol, these reasons get worse over time through the use of alcohol itself. Anecdotally, using alcohol to treat one’s anxiety or manage symptoms of anxiety is like using gasoline to put out a fire.

More About the Impact of Alcohol

Alcohol affects the brain and body through many pathways, leading to atrophy of the body due to alcohol’s toxicity, as well as to the condition of chemical addiction. Some brain imaging studies suggest permanent changes in the brain to have occurred through chronic alcohol abuse.

In addition to significant detrimental health effects of alcohol, for example to the blood, brain and liver, alcohol changes a woman’s personality and brings out sides of her nature which are more selfish, inconsiderate and emotionally toxic, as the spirit of addiction takes over and replaces her real self.

What Is the Relationship Between Alcohol and Panic Attacks?

Some people may turn to alcohol to cope with panic attacks, because of alcohol’s sedative effects. However, alcohol worsens panic in the mid to long term, because of the ways that alcohol damages the brain and nervous system.

In general, alcohol interferes with the ability to heal the underlying causes of panic attacks. As people progress in the stages of addiction, they are more likely to experience panic attacks. Panic attacks are a common experience during alcohol withdrawal as well, and are extremely uncomfortable to experience.

If you suffer from panic attacks, alcohol is not the friend it can seem to be in the moment. A significant number of people who come for help reporting that they are having panic attacks turn out to be having them because of their excessive use of alcohol.

Alcohol lowers resilience, detrimentally changing the way that we are able to respond to life events, stressors and overwhelming experiences, essentially making us more fragile and brittle.

Can Alcohol Increase the Symptoms of Anxiety for Those Who Suffer From Anxiety Disorders?

Yes.

Alcohol worsens the symptoms experienced by those qualifying for a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. This is true across the board, with all kinds of anxiety disorders. There is no kind of anxiety which is not negatively interfered with by alcohol use. This is because anxiety is intimately related to the pathways in the brain and body which are also affected by alcohol use and addiction.

The parts of the body that generate the experience of anxiety, as well as anxiety’s resolution (peace, or relaxation after over-activation), are impaired and damaged, sometimes permanently, by alcohol.

Alcohol also depletes the body’s natural store of beneficial hormones and neurotransmitters. We need these molecules to serve as chemical messengers in the body, to signal our muscles and other body systems to create sensations of peace and ease.

When alcohol is used chronically or in excess, the whole body system gets out of whack and we lose our ability to regulate and recover good moods and feelings on our own, even when we are engaging in positive and life affirming activities like exercise and connective relationships.

Although these positive behaviors normally would cause the body to reward us with a cascade of sensations of peace and pleasure, alcohol robs us of this option.

Why Might People Experience Anxiety After Drinking?

Anxiety is a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. The body will send a person into a state of acute anxiety when the substance is exiting the body and is no longer available for its sedative purpose. Due to the phenomenon of tolerance, the amount of alcohol required for staying out of withdrawal becomes higher and higher, so the anxiety associated with withdrawal becomes a more and more common experience.

How Do Alcohol and Anxiety Disorders Co-occur?

Many people get roped into alcoholism because of pre-existing anxiety conditions which feels unbearable to manage. Anxiety is almost always associated with traumatic experiences of greater or lesser impact which are held onto by the body and which could be treated with trauma work if not for the interfering presence of alcoholism.

For women this is especially so, as women are at greater risk of developing pathological anxiety as well as for that anxiety to be a result of a greater or lesser case of post-traumatic stress. In the absence of effective coping tools for shifting out of severe anxiety that is the residue of trauma in the nervous system, women with clinical levels of anxiety very often will develop alcoholism or another substance addiction, such as to benzodiazepines like Klonopin or Valium, because of their sedative effects.

Villa Kali Ma Helps Women Struggling With Anxiety and Alcoholism

Understanding the Impact of Alcohol Use and Abuse

Villa Kali Ma has the mission to help women recover lives of meaning, joy and freedom, to restore fully and never again have to go back to the nightmarish experiences of addiction, trauma, and mental health disorders.

If you are concerned about anxiety and alcohol and how these may be negatively impacting yourself or a loved one, please reach out and inform yourself about the treatments and pathways to recovery that are available for people who have found themselves caught in the alcohol-anxiety trap. There is a solution to this heartbreaking problem, and Villa Kali Ma can lead you to it.

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