Diwali cheer is already in the air, and while we may have just come out of some festivities (Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, to name a few), more are on their cheery, brightly-lit way!
With all the binge eating and drinking, a specific kind of anxiety has come to be associated with celebrations that entail alcohol consumption. The portmanteau used for it is hangxiety, or simply put, anxiety that accompanies a hangover.
If the physical aspect of a hangover was not enough, this situation also ropes in the complication of mental health.
Dr Charu Dua, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, states that about 12-20 percent people who deal with a hangover after a night of drinking also report a condition of ‘hangxiety’.
“Hangxiety is simply additional anxiety during a hangover. Additional symptoms due to anxiety could be feeling dizzy, confused, numb, shaky and maybe even the onset of a depressive state,” says Dr Charu Dua.
Who Is Likely To Get Hangxiety?
Before we proceed, here’s a little glimpse at what causes anxiety. Dr Dua lists down the reasons as follows:
Low levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins
Low blood sugar
Increased heart rate due to a hyperactive state
In fact, heart palpitations are both a symptom and a source of anxiety, she adds.
Consequently, individuals who are probably going to encounter anxiety even without alcohol are more prone to hangxiety.
Negative life events, depression or anger while drinking, guilt from drinking, and even some personality traits are linked to mood changes during a hangover. Problematic drinking patterns, personal conflicts, and work-related stress can further worsen these emotional states.
In general, alcohol affects the memory and may trigger paranoia and regret. All of this together become the perfect ingredients for a hangxiety cocktail, says Dr Dua.
How To Address the Symptoms?
Okay, once you find yourself in the throes of not only a hangover, but also one that has triggered your anxiety, how do you deal with it?
The first step is to not instantly jump into damage control mode. Try and not get anxious about the anxiety itself. I know – easier said than done, but something had to be said about at least consciously trying to move in this direction.
According to Dr Dua, hangxiety can last for as long as twenty-four hours, usually depending on the underlying cause and the amount of alcohol consumed.
“Some of the measures to get relief would be as simple as rehydration and taking frequent showers. Other remedies would include pain relievers, meditation, Yoga and light exercise. Hangxiety can be best addressed by having proper sleep," Dr Charu Dua adds.
Before Stepping Out For a Night of Drinking, Here’s What To Keep in Mind
“Be mindful and drink in moderation. Don’t use alcohol as a stress buster, it will make you feel worse the next day. Plan ahead of the night and avoid other psychological stressors related to work or family. If need be, also seek help of a medical expert," advises Dr Charu Dua.
The doctor further reminds you to not drink on an empty stomach.
“Some healthy snacks that you can have before or during drinking include salads with hummus, steamed sprouts, boiled eggs, grilled fish and chicken, popcorn, steamed corn, roasted unsalted nuts/peanuts, some papad. Avoid food items that are too salty or fried since they would add to dehydration, among other things. And lastly, remember to drink at least eight to ten glasses of water throughout the day.”Dr Charu Dua
Lastly, Do Not Get Bogged Down by Jargon
Dr Samir Parikh, Head of Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, reminds you to also not get lost in the jargon.
“Anxiety is anxiety, it’s a clinical illness that requires psychotherapy, lifestyle changes and medication. If you drink, and end up with discomfort the next day, it’s a message your body is giving you to say no to alcohol, or at least reduce the quantity of alcohol you’ve had. That’s the only way to look at it," says Dr Samir Parikh.
He puts it lucidly:
“Anxiety is a medical condition, and should be viewed thus, and if it is getting tied to your alcohol consumption, then you should look at your own individual alcohol consumption, perhaps reduce it or at least monitor it.”
Tying festivities with alcohol consumption is a limiting approach, points out the doctor. Therefore it’s important to pay attention to what your body is saying to you, he concludes.