It does so by binding to GABA receptors in the brain—which helps your body to relax and your mind to feel calm. Alcohol is believed to mimic this effect by also binding to GABA receptors. That’s why drinking can help you feel relaxed in the short-term, especially in social situations. Additionally, alcohol affects neurotransmitter levels in the brain—the chemical messengers responsible for how we think, feel, and behave.
In this article, we look at the links between alcohol and anxiety, the risks, and how to manage anxiety and alcohol in daily life. For anyone prone to anxiety, it can be easy for one drink to turn into more and lead to a growing dependence on alcohol. Talkiatry is a national psychiatry practice that provides in-network, virtual care.
Alcohol can lower your blood sugar levels
Anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorder (AUD) often occur together. According to a review study that looked at anxiety and alcohol use disorders, this relationship can become a dangerous, self-perpetuating cycle. To understand exactly why this happens, chemically, it’s important to understand the role of GABA—a neurotransmitter—in the brain and body. The more you drink the greater your tolerance for alcohol – meaning you need to drink more alcohol to get the same feeling. If you rely on alcohol to mask anxiety, you may find you become reliant on it to relax – putting you at risk of alcohol dependence.
Talk to your doctor about alcohol consumption before taking any of these medications, as side effects can be harmful or fatal. Symptoms of panic disorder often start in the late teens or early adulthood and affect more women than men. Up to one third of people will experience at least one panic attack in their lives, according to clinical psychiatrist Cindy Aaronson. They usually start when people are in their twenties but can also happen to teenagers. As you go through these physical sensations, your brain will think that you are panicked and might trick itself into having an actual panic attack.
Is Anxiety Associated with Alcohol Tolerance and Dependence?
However, these positive feelings are short lived and carry risks. A 2017 study found that, when researchers measured anxiety clinically, levels of anxiety were higher in those with AUD than those without when they faced stress. According to a 2017 review that looked at 63 studies, reducing alcohol intake resulted in improvements in both depression and anxiety.
More cancers could be prevented, she says, if people fully understood the risks of alcohol. Understanding these risks would lead to more fully informed decisions about alcohol use among individuals and families, including cancer survivors and those with a family cancer history. But most Americans aren’t aware of this link, thanks to seemingly does alcohol cause panic attacks contradictory research and mixed messaging from public health experts. A study published in 2023 found widespread mistaken beliefs that the risk varies by beverage type, with the lowest cancer risk assigned to wine. Another study published in 2021 showed that nearly 70% of people did not even know that alcohol was a cancer risk factor.
A primer on anxiety disorders
Dr. Lin has held an academic appointment at UTHealth, and he has spent his professional career supervising and teaching medical students and psychiatry residents. Dr. Austin Lin is a double board-certified adult and addiction psychiatrist who has been in practice for over 9 years. The information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and should never be substituted for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you or someone you know may be in danger, call 911 or the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 right away.
If you are currently taking any medications, then it is important to see whether this triggers anxiety or anxious feelings in any way. For most people, these anxious feelings disappear once they are removed from stressful situations or overcome them. Anxiety is feeling worried, stressed or fearful about certain situations on a regular basis.