Here's what 'hangxiety' really does to your head – and how it SHRINKS your brain | The Sun

HANGXIETY is a common problem after drinking — but not everyone knows what causes it.

Feeling more on edge or worried after a heavy night on the town is not just a result of doing embarrassing things after a few pints.

Alcohol actually changes the brain and affects how you show emotions for up to a full day after drinking, experts say.

James Roy, of Brainworks Neurotherapy, said: “Alcohol is hard on the brain and body. 

“Dehydration is certainly a factor, but there are less well known effects at play as well. 

“On average it takes about a day to fully metabolise the alcohol after a drinking.”

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Brits should not drink more than 14 units — around six pints of beer or 10 small glasses of wine — a week and try to spread drinking over three or more days, according to the NHS.

But a quarter of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink more than the guidelines and 27 per cent of drinkers in Great Britain binge on their heaviest days.

For men this means drinking more than eight units — three to four pints — while it means having six units — four small glasses of wine — if you’re a woman.

Long-term alcohol abuse can cause a range of deadly illnesses including liver disease and cancer.

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And in the short-term it can also cause other problems, including 'hangxiety'.

This is because booze affects the networks of nerves in our brains, stopping them forming as they should and even causing brain shrinkage.

Mr Roy said: “While alcohol is still in the system new neural nets don't form properly, and learning is compromised. 

“Rather than making solid new connections while learning, the dendrites — the little neuron arms — tend to miss their targets and connect where they shouldn't. 

“It is the same effect as seen in foetal alcohol syndrome, when there is alcohol in the system new neural nets struggle to form. 

“Even in an adult this can cause shrinkage to the brain and damage the nervous system.”

Alcohol also makes our brains worse at “gating” — the process by which we filter emotions.

Sensory gating is a vital mechanism in the brain to prevent it from being overloaded with information.

But research, published in Psychopharmacology, has shown even small amounts of alcohol can stop this from happening.

Mr Roy said: “Combined with other weakening factors such as fatigue from staying up late and poor quality of sleep that alcohol gives us, emotions can be unusually close to the surface the following day.

“As a result a hangover gives us a glimpse as to what lies under the surface of our conscious mind.” 

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He added: “If anger is the underlying propensity, after a night out ‘hangry-ness’ will be the result. 

“If anxiety is your underlying habit (as it is for so many), ‘hangxiety’ will be at the forefront. For others, low mood or depression can come to the fore.”

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