June 25, 2019 - 17:58 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Have you ever woken up after a big night of drinking and felt that stab of regret over something you might have said or done?
You may know of it as "the Fear" or the "Guilts", but psychologists have a new name for it - "Hangxiety" - it's that anxious feeling of dread or doom you might get as you're recovering from a night out drinking.
Psychologist Briony Leo works for the group Hello Sunday Morning, an organisation that encourages a healthy relationship with alcohol and drinking. She sees a lot of people who suffer from Hangxiety and says the scientific process of Hangxiety kicks in well before your hangover does, ABC says.
"Alcohol stimulates the production of GABA, which is a chemical that kind of calms down our brain," she told Hack.
"So often you'll see it people are having maybe one or two drinks, they'll start to become a bit more cheerful, a bit more relaxed. And after maybe three or four drinks, the brain also starts to block glutamate, which is a chemical that's responsible for anxiety."
She says the more glutamate we have in our brains, the more anxious we become. So if you're really anxious, alcohol will feel like it's calming you down. Until the next morning.
"When we stopped drinking our brains try to do what's best for us, which is to redress that imbalance. So they'll try to produce more glutamate to make up for what they see is a deficit. And now try to block GABA."
Cue the shaky, existential feeling hangover.
"So essentially you'll wake up the next morning in the opposite state of what you were when you were drinking, which is that you're feeling quite tense and anxious."
But Briony Leo says this type of anxiety might not happen every time you drink - and it's not confined to people who already have existing anxiety.
"If you're going through a difficult time in your life you probably will be responding differently to alcohol than if you just come back from holidays, and you are, you know, feeling fantastic."
"Somebody who isn't even experiencing any issues with mood could potentially notice it the next day. So it's kind of a physiological thing that can be separate from a mood issue."