What “Hangxiety” Is and How to Avoid It

When your hangover is accompanied by feelings of anxiety

Young man feels pain in the head and fever


A term that is the combination of the words hangover and anxiety, hangxiety is the feeling of anxiousness that may accompany a hangover. Anxiety is one of many negative feelings, such as regret, shame, or guilt about one’s actions when intoxicated, that can go along with the physical symptoms of a hangover, which include headache, nausea, feelings of dehydration, and body
fatigue. Those bad feelings can make a hangover seem even worse than one with physical symptoms alone.

While not everyone experiences hangxiety when they have a hangover, it’s believed that about 12% of people do. Those who are the most likely to deal with an anxiety-ridden hangover are shy people, according to a British study on the subject. We’ll look at why hangxiety occurs and what you can do about it. First, let’s make sure we understand the words that combine to create this term.

Why We Get Hangovers

A hangover is what occurs after you ingest more alcohol than your body can easily metabolize. it's the series of changes that happen in your body following drinking, and it usually sets in by the next morning.

A hangover is a series of physiological stressors on your body, and it causes everything from increased cortisol to dehydration. Your dopamine production is impacted, as is your glutamate production, so you might not feel as happy as usual when you're hungover. The nausea from a hangover can cause vomiting, and the dehydration can lead to feelings of thirst that aren't satisfied by drinking water. Hangovers usually abate within a day.

Identifying Anxiety

There are many different forms of anxiety, but in general the word is used to describe when you feel afraid or worried without a specific reason to. If you experience feelings of fear or worry on a regular basis, you might have an anxiety disorder, also known as generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, as opposed to people who only experience those feelings on occasion or in a situation that warrants them.

Anxiety can be anywhere from mild—where you just feel a sense of unease but you're ok to function through it—to crippling, in which you may have frequent panic attacks and an inability to go about life like "normal."

The History of the Term Hangxiety

The term hangxiety only began being used in the last couple years, and like many words that pop up over time, it doesn't seem to have a founder or individual who claims to have coined the term.

Therapists have been writing about hangxiety since 2021, and those in the world of recovery have been using it since then as well. Hangxiety is now a common word that is used both in therapy circles and as a descriptor by people suffering from anxiety along with hangovers.

Symptoms of Hangxiety

The symptoms of hangxiety are likely to happen along with the physical symptoms of a hangover. They include the following.

  • Irritability
  • A sense that everything isn't, or won't be, ok
  • Worry about anything and everything
  • A sense of shame, guilt, and/or regret about how you behaved while drunk
  • Paranoid feelings
  • Fast heartrate
  • Jitteriness
  • Sweating
  • A lack of ability to focus your mind
  • General dread or impending doom
  • Trouble sitting still

Causes of Hangxiety

It might seem very straightforward that the cause of hangxiety is a hangover. But in reality, it's a little bit more complicated than that.

First of all, only a small amount of people who get hangovers experience feelings of anxiety along with them. That's because everyone's body chemistry is different, and is impacted differently. Just think of how some people get nauseas from one drink, while others can drink many without getting queasy.

One common reason to become anxious with a hangover is if you are a person who is prone to anxiety in the first place. Given how alcohol messes with the production of your feel-good chemicals, if you are some who has anxiety, it would makes sense that a hangover would worsen that. Alcohol also might reduce the effectiveness of your anxiety medication, if you take it, further leading to anxiety after drinking.

Additionally, your hangover and accompanying anxiety may be more intense if you weren't well hydrated and fed prior to drinking. Eating processed foods high in sugar, which can also mess with your mood and production of feel-good chemicals, and not having consumed enough water while drinking can both intensify hangover and hangxiety symptoms.

How to Avoid Hangxiety

The simplest way to avoid the troubles of a hangover, anxiety included, is to not drink. But that's not a reasonable alternative for many people, and it doesn't necessarily have to be. We all deserve to let loose and have fun--the point is simply that you'll be best served, and feel the best later, if you do so moderately and conscientiously.

If you're planning on drinking, taking all the standard steps to avoid a hangover will also help you avoid hangxiety. These include having a glass of water in between every alcoholic beverage, not drinking more than one alcoholic beverage every one to two hours, eating a large, fiber rich meal before drinking, and opting for lower alcohol drinks over higher ones.

What to Do If You’re Feeling Hangxious

Sometimes, even if you took all of the appropriate steps to avoid a hangover, you still might experience one, and it may bring anxiety along for the ride with it. The older you get, the harder it becomes for your body to metabolize alcohol, so you might notice that it's harder to avoid a hangover than it used to be. If you're experiencing hangxiety, attending to the physical needs of your hangover can also help with the emotional repercussions.

Rehydrate by drinking plenty of water. Adding electrolytes can also be useful. Eat mild foods, such as soup or crackers, to settle your stomach is queasy or nauseas. If possible, go back to bed and let your body continue to process the alcohol withdrawal while you sleep.

Once you've cared for your physical needs, be gentle with yourself emotionally. Realize that this is a temporary feeling, and forgive yourself for your sense of worry or unease. Try moving into a state of mindfulness, or doing a short guided meditation to bring yourself back into your body. Breathing long and slowly can also help relax you. Focus on what you need to feel calm, whether that's curling up in a blanket or texting a friend, and remember that you'll feel better soon.

Drinking can be a light matter, but addiction is a serious issue. If you are concerned that your drinking has entered problematic territory, help is available for you. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, aka SAMHSA, has a hotline you can call 24/7, any day of the year. It's completely free and confidential.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. University of exeter [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jan 18]. 

  2. Banerjee N. Neurotransmitters in Alcoholism: A Review of Neurobiological and Genetic StudiesIndian J Hum Genet. 2014;20(1):20-31. doi:10.4103/0971-6866.132750

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Emotional Hangover? Why Alcohol Can Give You Anxiety. Updated October 1, 2018.

  4. Meier P, Seitz HK. Age, alcohol metabolism and liver disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2008 Jan;11(1):21–6.

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity.