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Alcohol, Fears and Phobias

Anxiety causes nervousness, worry and tension. It can be an unpleasant, short-term reaction to a difficult situation like a relationship break-up, exams or work pressure, or a fight with a friend.

Anxiety can also be a more serious condition, which causes more distressing symptoms and makes it hard for a person to cope with day-to-day life. 

Fear is an emotion generally triggered when we feel threatened. A phobia is the heightened form of fear. People can experience butterflies in their stomach, sweaty palms, pounding heart at the thought of doing certain things. 

Why do some people drink alcohol when they're feeling anxious?

Because alcohol depresses the central nervous system, it can offer an immediate feeling of temporary relief from the symptoms of anxiety like shaking, sleep problems, panicking, feeling on edge and fear.

So what's the problem?

Alcohol is not a solution to anxiety or fear. Using alcohol to temporarily relieve symptoms means the real problem isn’t solved. Harmful use of alcohol can also create extra problems, such as relationship problems, regrets and dependence, which can be a source of anxiety in themselves.

 Alcohol’s effects on brain chemistry can cause the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, even in people who never suffered anxiety.  


Healthy ways to cope with anxiety

  • Learn exercise and relaxation techniques to ease anxiety
  • Use controlled breathing techniques when you feel anxious.
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine
  • Talk to someone about your worries. A friend or a professional
  • If your anxiety is affecting your life, talk to your GP – They can help with any physical symptoms and refer you to counselling and other supports, if necessary


Useful resources

Challenging anxious thoughts

Panic attacks

References Generalised anxiety disorder 

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