It’s Christmas party season, and thousands of people up and down the country will be waking up the morning after the night before with a crushing sense of dread – what the hell did I do last night?
Whether it’s dancing on tables, cornering your boss and demanding a promotion, or drunk-dialling your ex – there’s a whole variety of things that make you cringe the next day. We call it ‘beer fear’, and it’s a legitimate thing according to science.
Speaking on the Drink Aware website, Eva Cyhlarova from The Mental Health Foundation explained that as alcohol is a depressant it can leave drinkers struggling to process stress.
She said: “Over time, heavy drinking interferes with the neurotransmitters in the brain that are needed for good mental health. So while alcohol may help deal with stress in the short term, in the long run it can contribute to feeling of depression and anxiety and make stress harder to deal with.”
So in the long-term, anxiety is actually more likely. Great. Women’s Health spoke to psychiatrist Dr Apara Iyer about the fear, and she said that “alcohol mimics the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps people feel less inhibited, which is why you might feel extra chilled and gregarious while you’re drinking. But during the hangover the next day, the effects are reversed, causing anxiety to spike.”
This means that beer fear is also a symptom of your body processing the alcohol withdrawal from the night before.
So basically, if you want to avoid beer fear altogether – you need to cut back on the drinking. Otherwise, it’s sadly just something that we all need to learn to live with.