Many people will have a drink of alcohol to help relax and unwind. A recent study showed that instead of making someone relax, alcohol may add tension and stress.
The study was reported by Healthfinder.gov and was released online
and will appear in an issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Researchers say that alcohol can change the way the body manages stress. Stress can also reduce the intoxicating effects of alcohol, causing people to drink more to produce the same effect. It could make some folks feel worse and prolong their stress when they think it will relieve tension.
Researchers asked 25 healthy men to complete a stressful public speaking task that is known to increase heart rate, blood pressure and feelings of tension.
Study author Emma Childs who is a research associate at the University of Chicago said, "the increase in heart rate and blood pressure , the increase of a cortisol (stress hormone), and also the increased feelings of tension and negative mood each reach a climax and dissipate at a different rate. Therefore, drinking more alcohol might have different effects, depending on how long after the stress a person drinks". She went on to say, "Alcohol can change the way that the body deals with stress: it can decrease the hormone cortisol, which the body releases to respond to stress, and it can prolong the feelings of tension produced by the stress". The National Institutes of Health has more information on the effects of drinking alcohol and stress.