a woman experiencing hangxiety symptoms
Health | Sobriety

5 Hangxiety Symptoms — Plus What To Do About Them

By Natalie Arroyo Camacho, Contributing Writer

If you ask any of my friends, I am a certified party girl. I’ve closed down many a bar in my time, and — if I was a betting woman — I’d put my money on doing it again. I have a lot of fun when I have a night out on the town. The next day, though, is sometimes another story. As many of us know, heavy drinking can cause a lot of physical discomfort the morning after a night out—like a throbbing headache, heavy fatigue, extreme thirst, and even nausea. In some cases, people also experience hangxiety symptoms.

In case you hadn’t encountered this term before, it refers to a certain anxiety felt by people after drinking alcohol. Since a 2019 study found that approximately 12 percent of people experience anxiety while hungover, we’re dedicating this post to talk about the symptoms of hangxiety and what we can do about it.

Hangxiety Symptoms

Just like its non-alcohol-induced counterpart, hangxiety has physical and mental health symptoms. Considering that these side effects can affect your life, we want to help you identify these symptoms in order to be better equipped to deal with them.

What Is Hangxiety?

You know how when we really love a celebrity couple, we give them a moniker that’s usually a mash-up of their first names? Hangxiety is like that. Put simply, hangxiety means that you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety as a direct result of your hangover. In fact, the term is short for hangover anxiety. 

I’ve long said that a hangover is basically alcohol withdrawal — because when you drink alcohol again, you usually feel better. Part of that withdrawal is hangxiety. According to the Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation, hangxiety symptoms “can last for 24 hours or sometimes longer — depending on how much you had to drink and other physical factors, such as body size and liver health.”

A woman in bed who is experiencing hangxiety symptoms

That’s because of what happens to the body after drinking alcohol — aka dehydration, chemical imbalances in your brain, and lowered inhibitions. You can expect to experience hangxiety symptoms to show anywhere between half an hour and three hours after you wake up from a long night of alcohol consumption.

5 Symptoms of Hangxiety

  • Feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or embarrassed about the previous night
  • Over-analyzing things you did while you were drunk
  • A feeling of existential dread
  • Increased heart rate and state of restlessness
  • Lack of focus

What Causes Hangxiety?

Simply put, hangxiety is one of the many effects of alcohol. As we mentioned earlier, this happens when we stop drinking — which causes a chemical imbalance in our brains. More specifically, though, there are a few things that are happening in your body. 

Plus, knowing what causes something makes it a little easier to stop it from happening. The same is true when you’re trying to prevent hangxiety.

Increased cortisol levels

According to CNN, a hangover “creates a state of physiological stress.” During your hangover, your body’s cortisol levels (nicknamed the “stress hormone”) increase, as do your blood pressure and heart rate — which also happens when you’re experiencing anxiety.

Lower dopamine levels

Dopamine, aka the happiness hormone, is another important chemical in your brain that’s tied to mood. Basically, it just makes you feel good. But it’s also directly affected by alcohol consumption. With lower dopamine levels, it’s natural to feel emotional withdrawal, anxiety, sadness, and even fatigue. 

Lower gamma-aminobutyric acid levels

Though we may be most familiar with cortisol and dopamine as our brain chemicals, we should also know about gamma-aminobutyric acid — an inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for reducing neuronal excitability. When we consume too much alcohol (as one might if they’re going through alcohol use disorder), this neurotransmitter is basically depleted.

How To Get Rid Of Hangxiety

Stay hydrated

While a glass of water won’t fix everything in your life, it’ll certainly help with some symptoms of hangxiety. Because alcohol is a diuretic, it’s pretty dehydrating — especially if you weren’t drinking water during your bender.


In case you drink a glass of water and your hangxiety doesn’t get any better, try eating. Oftentimes, our mood is severely impacted by what foods we have — or haven’t — ingested. (Just think of those times you or a friend got super hangry.) 


When in doubt, take a nap — or just rest. Having experienced hangxiety (and, honestly, regular anxiety) myself, I know that resting is quite difficult when your mind is going a million miles a minute. Do your best to breathe through it and sit with those hard thoughts. It’ll be extremely uncomfortable, but it’s also completely worth it. More than anything else, this is what I’ve noticed helps with my hangxiety.

How To Get Rid Of Hangxiety

Find a distraction

If I’m honest, I don’t love suggesting that folks find a distraction instead of encouraging them to deal with the emotions that are coming up for them. That said, I realize that not all of us are there yet — that not all of us want to deal with those emotions. For those folks, may I kindly advise finding a distraction? Maybe you go for a walk, read a book, watch TV, or color. 

Reach out to a friend

Like social anxiety, hangxiety is more common than you might think. For that reason, it’s likely that a friend of yours — or maybe several — have also lived through this uncomfortable feeling. It can help to talk to someone so you know you’re not alone. In times when I’m feeling anxious, I know that’s really boosted my mood and helped me calm down.

Stay sober

You know how the best way to prevent a pregnancy is to stay sober? Getting rid of hangxiety for good requires staying sober. After all, you can’t experience the aftermath of alcohol if you don’t consume it, right? To be sure, there are tons of cool things to do that don’t involve drinking. In fact, we put together a list of fun sober activities in NYC.

Natalie Arroyo Camacho is a first-gen Mexican American writer from the San Fernando Valley. She’s written for ByrdieRefinery29Teen Vogue, and Well+Good. She’s also the founding editor of Viva the Valley.

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