Alcohol and Anxiety: How Drinking Can Cause Panic Attacks?

Learning more about how alcohol use can worsen anxiety can help you better understand your own symptoms and consider alternative ways to cope. Alcohol use disorder and anxiety disorder are treatable conditions, and you don’t have to navigate them alone. Connect with a Care Team at Monument to begin a treatment plan tailored to you. Both alcohol use disorder and anxiety disorder are treatable conditions, and require developing healthy coping mechanisms. Engaging in specialized alcohol therapy is an effective way to address these conditions simultaneously and find the relief you deserve.

Should I go to the hospital for a panic attack?

If you suspect that you are experiencing a panic attack for the first time, it is always recommended to go to the emergency room. So if you're wondering, “Should I go to the ER for a panic attack?” the answer is yes.

Many of us are often faced with struggles and hardships and finding help can be difficult. However, at Overcomers Counseling, we are here to help you in your time of need. We are passionate about people and we believe that ANYONE can be an overcomer if they are willing to pursue it. Don’t let another day go by without getting the help you desire. The reaction of alcohol with this neurotransmitter and chemicals destabilizes how the body reacts to situations. Alcohol can react with GABA, the primary neurotransmitter in the brain.

Best Effective Coping Strategies for Stress

Without getting to the root causes of drinking, you’re at high risk of relapse. Addiction treatment helps you manage mental health disorder symptoms and teaches you alternative ways to cope with anxiety and stress. When they try to stop drinking, though, they can experience serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms that should be monitored by a professional.

alcohol-induced panic attack

Please speak with a licensed professional if there are any concerns around your relationship with drinking. If you experience panic attacks or debilitating anxiety after drinking, consult a medical professional or trained therapist. Different medication types also have varied approaches to treating anxiety and alcohol abuse in relation to the medication chosen. For instance, antidepressants can be used every day, while benzodiazepines are more suitable for quick, temporary relief. Additionally, it is important to find out from the health care provider if any of these medications interact with any other drug or substance that one may be using at the time.

Alcohol Can Lead to Withdrawal Symptoms

Plus, alcohol increases the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, which plays a central role in anxiety. When alcohol reaches the brain, it stimulates GABA activity, leading to feelings of ease and relaxation. After a night of drinking, many people experience the typical symptoms of a hangover—nausea, headache, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, and shakiness. Alcohol and drugs influence chemicals tied to your reward center.

Drinking heavily over the long term can cause disruptions to your brain’s normal chemical levels, leading to even more intense anxiety due to alcohol withdrawal. In simple terms, alcohol slows your brain down and body way down. Because alcohol has a depressive effect on your brain and the rest of your body, you may experience relief from anxiety after the first couple of drinks. This reaction causes an influx of feel-good hormones like endorphins and serotonin.


In addition to quitting alcohol, you will likely need medical intervention in the form of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, or both. Once your mental health reaches this level, the road to recovery panic attacks and alcohol becomes significantly more challenging. The brain responds to an influx of alcohol by blocking GABA and increasing glutamate. In the absence of alcohol, that increase results in terrible anxiety.

  • Withdrawal of alcohol disrupts your brain activity, causing a hyper-aroused state.
  • Unfortunately, using alcohol to reduce your level of anxiety creates a vicious cycle that will only make things worse.
  • Just watch it come up and then fade away without believing what it says or getting hooked by it.
  • This reaction causes an influx of feel-good hormones like endorphins and serotonin.

Talk to your doctor to decide which type of medication is best for you. Seek help from a mental health professional if you have anxiety. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, seek help from your doctor right away. At first, drinking can reduce fears and take your mind off of your troubles. It can help you feel less shy, give you a boost in mood, and make you feel generally relaxed.

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