Scientific breakthrough: How alcohol causes anxiety and panic

People who drink too much alcohol on a permanent basis tend to have anxiety and panic attacks. Now a Californian research team has found the reason for this. The cause lies in a tiny part of our brain, the amygdala. Among other things, it regulates feelings of anxiety and stress.

This brain structure is very sensitive. In order for everything to run smoothly biochemically, one thing in particular must not happen: No inflammatory processes may take place there. The amygdala is protected against this by the so-called interleukin 10, which is an inflammation brakeman.

Alcohol interferes with this interleukin protection. The researchers have observed that the interleukin level decreases in alcohol addicts – the inflammation level in the brain and the amygdala thus increases.

The second observation of the researchers: Only when the interleukin level is sufficiently high can the docking sites of the calming nerve messenger GABA fire properly – in other words, only then are they sufficiently sensitive to the calming impulse and only then do they pass it on properly.

In other words: alcohol suppresses the interleukin in the amygdala and this shatters the GABA radio traffic in precisely the control centre that is responsible for fear and stress. Even simpler: this is how permanent stress, anxiety and panic develop – which can supposedly only be alleviated by reaching for the bottle.

Interestingly, there are other studies that report that anti-inflammatory nutrients such as vitamin C or zinc also have positive effects in anxiety and panic patients. Perhaps this is the key.


Primary source: Science direct. IL-10 normalizes aberrant amygdala GABA transmission and reverses anxiety-like behavior and dependence-induced escalation of alcohol intake. Progress in Neurobiology

Secondary source (german)

Image by John Hain on Pixabay

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