Does Alcoholism Cause Anxiety?

woman upset over alcoholism induced anxiety

Although some people use alcohol as a way to unwind at the end of a stressful day, they are putting themselves at risk for developing alcoholism.  Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, people become addicted to the de-stressing effects. Eventually, a person becomes unable to deal with stress or anxiety without reaching for alcohol.

Why Does Alcoholism Cause Anxiety?

In the beginning, drinking alcohol seems to take your mind off your troubles.  Some people feel more outgoing and upbeat.  These effects are similar to those felt while taking anti-anxiety medications.  However, over time, excessive drinking can cause memory loss, blackouts, liver damage, and other health problems.  Consequently, these issues create anxiety for the person as they try to cope with the issues.

Another way alcoholism contributes to anxiety is in the way you experience feelings of depression after your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) returns to normal.  These feelings of depression also lead to increased anxiety.

Signs of Alcohol-Induced Anxiety

Alcohol-induced anxiety is a medical condition that is known as substance-induced psychotic disorder.  The condition usually begins while the person is drinking and can last until drinking is discontinued.  During withdrawal, alcohol-induced anxiety can last up to four weeks after discontinuing alcohol.  It is important to note that this medical diagnosis is made only when the symptoms are more extreme than what is expected during intoxication or withdrawal, according to the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Here are some signs of alcohol-induced anxiety:

  • Noticeable or prominent anxiety:  nervousness, rapid heart rate, trembling, sweating, weakness, inability to concentrate.
  • Sudden panic attack:  an episode of extreme fear that results in a physical reaction.  The person believes they are having a heart attack or are dying.
  • Obsessive/compulsive behavior:  usually occurs when the person attempts to have some sense of control over their life.
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome:  a condition that occurs when a person attempts to abstain from drinking without seeking professional help.  Physical and psychological symptoms emerge, with panic or extreme anxiety at the forefront.
  • Distress or impaired functioning:  the person is unable to function in daily life because of the panic attacks and severe anxiety.

Fortunately, the outlook for alcohol-induced anxiety is good.  In fact, if a person stops drinking, the symptoms will subside completely.  Of course, this improvement takes a little time.  For this reason, when a person decides to stop drinking, they should enter an inpatient treatment facility.  In this type of program, the recovering alcoholic will learn coping skills and gain the confidence needed for maintaining sobriety while also managing daily stress without becoming overly anxious.

Finding Help for Alcoholism

If you are interested in the above-mentioned inpatient programs for alcoholism, please call our toll-free number today.  One of our staff will be available to help you select a program that is suited to your unique situation.











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