How to Fight ‘Beer Fear’ This Holiday Season

by Taylor Cunningham

Do you suffer from “beer fear” after a night on the town? Don’t worry, we’re got you covered.

“Beer fear” or “hangxiety” is that ominous feeling that some people get after drinking a few too many spirits. Symptoms may include feelings of despair or intense worry about what may have happened the night before. And like general anxiety, that dreadful feeling isn’t necessarily warranted.

So if the panicked hangover isn’t rational, why do so many people wake up reeling from it?

According to Andrew Misell, director for Wales at Alcohol Change UK, “there are few reasons you might feel anxious after an evening’s drinking.”

“You’re likely to be dehydrated and tired: alcohol will get you off to sleep but it keeps you from getting much deep sleep.”

And on top of that, “your body will be busy flooding your brain with chemicals to counteract the alcohol, and that can do strange things to your mood.”

So when you wake up in the morning, your body is completely out of rhythm. And as you lie there thinking about all the mistakes you may have made the night prior, you’ll overexaggerate the situations. Or, if you drank enough to have gaps in your memory, you may anxiously try to fill them in.

The Science Behind ‘Beer Fear’

And beer fear isn’t a myth. According to research, coming down from a solid buzz can temporarily change your brain’s chemistry.

After one or two drinks, you may feel relaxed because alcohol slows the rate at which your nerve cells respond to everything around you. But if you two or three more, your brain will start blocking a transmitter called glutamate.

Without the transmitter, you could feel entirely at ease while you ride out the rest of your drunken night. But eventually, your brain is going to start trying to fix its glutamate levels, which can spell disaster for your future mood. In some cases, the imbalance can cause a full-on panic attack.

And unfortunately, the only cure for a dose of hangxiety is time.

“There is no magic cure for all of this,” Misell continued.

However, there are ways to prevent that intense morning after panic.

“Of course the best way to avoid hangxiety—or hangovers in general—is to moderate your drinking,” Misell shared.

This doesn’t mean that you have to drink less. You just need to drink wisely. Choosing cocktails with lower alcohol levels will help keep you from feeling dreadful in the AM.

And another way to help moderate your hangxiety is by drinking a glass of water in between each glass of alcohol. Not only will the habit keep you from over-drinking, but it will also keep you hydrated.