Hangovers affect the mind as well as the body

Man with HangoverAnyone who has woken up after a drinking session will have probably noticed before the way a hangover affects your ability to process mental problems and think clearly.

Psychologists at the Keele University’s School of Psychology, studying hangovers, found that apart from causing anxiety, dizziness, feeling sick/vomiting and headaches, hangovers are also detrimental to brain function, affecting one’s capability to think properly.

At the Surrey Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy we have conducted research on previous hypnotherapy for anxiety clients; we looked at 100 anxiety clients, 59 of which had agoraphobic type of anxieties. Of these nearly 70% also experienced panic attacks.

We looked at the clients with accompanying panic attacks and we found that a staggering 60% stated that they had been drinking heavily the night before their first ever panic attack, leading us to believe that the possibility exists, for hangovers to increase the likelihood of having a panic attack. The first panic attack, if severe enough, can establish anxiety and panic attacks that can be with the person for life.

The clients were drawn at random over a three year period between 2007 and 2010. Only clients that had completed their course of hypnotherapy for anxiety were selected. The average number of sessions over the 100 clients was 5.4 sessions.

It’s important to understand that hangovers don’t just affect the body physically, they also effect cognitive function and mood as well which can lead to many unwanted consequences.

Dr Lauren Owen, Marie Curie postdoctoral research fellow at Keele University’s School of Psychology who has been leading the research, said: “Most people are familiar with the undesirable hangover effects that may arise the day after excessive drinking.”

“What’s more, the symptoms of alcohol hangover are not just physiological – they affect cognitive functioning and mood as well which may lead to numerous undesirable life consequences.”

“Although numerous scientific papers cover the acute effects of alcohol consumption, researchers have largely neglected the issue of alcohol hangover.”

“We are measuring a large range of cognitive functions using a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests which will reveal the associated brain functions that may be impaired.”

“The findings are preliminary, but so far we are observing that tasks that rely on what psychologists call ‘working memory’ seem to be most reliably affected.”

“So far we have found there are statistically significant differences on these tasks compared to the ‘no alcohol’ condition. However, the magnitude will not be fully apparent until all the data is in.”

She said that the early results seem to indicate a 5-10% drop in performance of working memory and an increase in errors by around 30% while participants were hungover.

Reaction times were also marginally slower in those who were hungover and represented someone in their 20s having the reaction times equivalent to someone in their 40s.

Does Hypnotherapy work with hangovers?

As good as hypnotherapy is, expecting any hypnotherapist to regulate and expel the ethanol and methanol from your body is a bit of a tall order.

Of course the best way to cure the effects of a hangover is not to get one in the first place. There are only two real ways to do that:

  1. Significantly reduce your intake of alcohol
  2. Stop drinking alcohol completely

Hypnotherapy for alcohol can be effective in helping to achieve both, although surprisingly stopping altogether is easier than cutting down. To achieve either, the client has to have motivation to do so.

We achieve change in the client by changing their responses to the decision points. The hardest part is establishing when and where these decision points are. Generally they are not the moments when you think “Oh I fancy a glass of wine or beer”. For most people they occur long before that moment.

When new responses have been established through hypnotherapy for alcohol, the natural behaviours start to change.

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