Alcohol and Anxiety

Q: Can you tell me the effects of drinking too much alcohol and anxiety/depression?

Is drinking too much affecting my anxiety and depression? What are the effects of alcohol on anxiety and depression?A: Alcohol is known as more of a depressant than a stimulant. It has the effect of dampening the physical system. If someone with anxiety/depression drinks alcohol to excess on a regular basis, then this will most probably contribute to the ongoing anxiety and depression. Some people with an Anxiety Disorder use alcohol as a way of trying to deal with the ongoing anxiety/depression. They do not realize they are making the condition worse for themselves. Not only are there physical, but also emotional and psychological, effects of drinking in excess. The other aspect is that, in the morning, it is very difficult for a person to distinguish between the anxiety symptoms and the "hangover" from the alcohol. This contributes to the major anxiety cycle and therefore perpetuates the Anxiety Disorder.

There is also research which links excessive alcohol consumption with the development of an Anxiety Disorder. It is very difficult for a health professional to ascertain which is the root cause of the Disorder. Did the anxiety exist before the alcohol problem or was the alcohol problem the cause of the ongoing anxiety? It is suggested if people are experiencing the ongoing anxiety and are experiencing an alcohol problem, then it is the alcohol problem that needs to be addressed first. Only when the person is free of the effects of the alcohol can the health practitioner deal with the anxiety (if any remain). We suggest people contact their local Alcoholics Anonymous or other similar organization to get assistance with alcohol dependency. Many of these organizations deal with the anxiety that can be residual from alcohol problems.

Our suggestion to people who experience ongoing anxiety/depression is to not drink alcohol (or very limited use). Deal with the anxiety in an appropriate way and there may be no need to drink in excess. Excessive alcohol consumption is not worth the effects it creates physically, emotionally or psychologically.

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APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2008, October 3). Alcohol and Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Last Updated: July 1, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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