Panic attacks after alcohol: causes and symptoms

Updated 2 years ago on April 08, 2023

Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages necessarily affects the human body. Because of intoxication all systems are affected, and in neglected cases such disorders as panic attacks can occur.

For many alcoholics, the state of anxiety that comes from drinking is quite frightening. It is characteristic of those who are prone to heavy drinking.

What causes panic attacks and how to deal with this disorder?

The concept of panic attack, who is at risk?

Panic attacks are sudden anxiety attacks characterized by autonomic symptoms. The duration can be up to one hour.

The disorder is characterized by feelings of fear, anxiety and unreasonable anxiety.

There are also cases in which an attack occurs without alarming sensations. There is an accelerated heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, and a person may lose consciousness.

According to statistics, panic attacks affect about 20% of the population, more often women. The average age of patients is 25 years old.

In the zone of risk are those in whom a family had a sufferer of this disease. On this basis, it can be argued that panic attacks can be transmitted genetically.

Scientists have also found that personality type does not determine predisposition to the occurrence of seizures.

Why Alcohol Causes Panic Attacks

It is worth noting that taking alcohol does not necessarily lead to panic attacks. Common causes are disorders of the cardiovascular, nervous, endocrine system, as well as the human psyche.

An attack can be triggered by drinks with high levels of caffeine or certain medications that affect the nervous system.

As for alcohol, its excessive use leads to an excessive release of adrenaline and body malfunction.

Alcoholic beverages contain such hazardous components as acetic anhydride oils. They are the most dangerous to the nervous system.

Some psychologists argue that panic attacks act as a kind of defensive reaction of the body to alcohol abuse. They argue that in this way a drinker realizes how detrimental alcohol has on him and what alcoholism leads to.

That is, subconsciously a person punishes himself for not being able to resist.

The level and frequency of panic attacks also depends on the frequency of binges. If binges are rare, then the attacks are not frequent, they can develop after a few days. In inveterate alcoholics, panic attacks occur quite often. Such chronic manifestations can provoke a depressive state, hallucinations, white fever, which in turn can lead to suicide.

How to deal with panic attacks after alcohol

Panic attacks most often occur with a hangover, that is, the day after drinking alcohol. The symptoms of hangover syndrome are most pronounced through the physical level:

  • headache;
  • vomiting;
  • frequent urges to the toilet;
  • pressure surges;
  • body aches and lethargy;

The connection between panic attacks and hangovers manifests itself in two ways:

  1. "Before." This means that the attack occurs before alcohol is consumed. A person who is confidently about to take the next dose suddenly has a feeling of fear and dread.

At the same time, the following signs of PA appear on the outside:

  • increased sweating;
  • heart palpitations increase;
  • I feel very dizzy;
  • trembling of the limbs;
  • loss of consciousness.
  1. "After". In this version, all the signs and consequences of a panic attack are identical as in the "before. Only the period of onset differs. In this case, the disease affects the person already after the use of alcohol, throughout the hangover period. The only thing that will help is a complete cleansing of the body from alcohol and refusal to drink it.

Prevention and treatment of alcohol-induced panic attacks

Many people after experiencing a panic attack after drinking don't know what to do and can't start living a normal life. Often this can develop into phobias or a phobic anxiety disorder.

Of course, the simplest and most effective way to prevent panic attacks is to drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, or better yet, to stop drinking them altogether.

It can also help:

  • Do regular physical activity;
  • get enough sleep, at least eight hours;
  • master therapeutic massage;
  • Proper nutrition, elimination of caffeine-containing drinks from your diet;

Everyone who has suffered from a panic attack during a hangover has to cope with it on their own. There are different methods and techniques to help you cope on your own:

  1. Learn to regulate your breathing. Rapid breathing and over-oxygenation make a person feel worse. To restore the lack of carbon dioxide, you can use these techniques:
  • Breathe into the closure of the palm. You have to sit down, lean with your back against the wall, fold your palms in a boat and press them to your face. Breathe slowly until the attack is over.
  • breathe into a paper bag. The method is identical to the previous one, only a bag is used instead of the palm.
  • hold your breath. When breathing in, hold the air for a few seconds and then breathe out slowly.
  1. Try to create a distraction. To do this, you can help:
  • count objects around or just say numbers in a voice;
  • cause yourself a little sharp pain. Often a rubber band is put on the hand and at the onset of the attack, you pull it away so that it hurts. It is also possible to pinch yourself.
  • apply massage. This method will help you to relax and calm down and thus interrupt the onset of the attack. You can also play your favorite music and lie down.
  1. Drug prophylaxis. If an attack has begun, you can take an infusion of valerian, peppermint, or motherwort.
  2. Facilitate detoxification. Without interventions, it takes a few days to remove toxins from the body. To speed up this process, you can:
  • Increase the volume of fluid you drink to 2.5-3 liters.
  • take a complex of vitamins, especially B and C. The most effective way is to take a drip. This will help the body recover and normalize the metabolism.
  • contrast showers. This will help to tone your muscles, get you awake and relaxed.
  • Take special hangover medications, having studied the instructions beforehand.

If you cannot cope with panic attacks after drinking alone, you need to seek help from doctors. Psychotherapists and neurologists specialize in such disorders. There is no need to be shy or afraid to seek help. These specialists do not have to put you on a medical record.

It is not possible to cure this disorder in one session, it is necessary to take a whole course.

The most common prescription for recovery is antidepressants, which must be taken for several months. The doctor must warn you that alcohol is strictly forbidden while taking the medication, as it can lead to serious complications.

After suffering a first attack, the patient is afraid of its recurrence. To relieve this fear, doctors perform the following manipulations:

  • explain the nature of the illness, why panic attacks occur after alcohol. It helps to understand that he can't go crazy or die from an attack.
  • place the patient in a situation that is conducive to the occurrence of PA while allowing them to become aware of the safety of the symptoms and how they can be managed. Experiment until they realize that the possibility of relapse is reduced.

The support of loved ones and relatives plays an important role in therapy. It is very important that the patient feels calm at home as well. A calm conversation or a condescending attitude can help. It is also possible to discuss the harms of alcohol in a relaxed, non-accusatory atmosphere and reassure the alcoholic that he is on the right path.

More Posts

View All

Telehealth is Easy!

Safe, secure video platform for people who need immediate emotional or psychiatric support. 👍

Visits are always HIPAA compliant and can be done almost anywhere.