Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

Font Size

Drinking to Quiet Anxiety

WebMD Health News

Aug. 11, 2000 -- A cool beer sounds good on a hot summer day ... wine is fine at dinnertime ... a margarita would be sublime, with lime. People's tastes in spirits are vastly varied, as are their reasons for drinking. What type of mood is likely to inspire us to drink? Are we more likely to drink when we're happy, bored, sad -- or nervous? If drinking is indeed a habit to calm the nerves, it could indicate a bigger problem, a new study from the French Bordeaux wine country suggests.

In analyzing the many moods that coincide with drinking, author Joel D. Swendsen, PhD, a psychology researcher at the University of Bordeaux II, writes that nervousness was the only negative mood that caused people to drink more alcohol later in the day, even more so than sadness. His study suggests the association could lead some people, especially men, to use alcohol to "self-medicate" so they don't feel nervous anymore.

In fact, "men were more likely than women to consume alcohol ... [reporting] that they could have 'really used a drink' if they had been nervous earlier in the day," he writes in a recent issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Swendsen's study involved 100 men and women -- average age of 34 -- who drank at least three times a week. None had problems with alcohol, or a mood disorder, or a family history of problem drinking.

With the aid of a hand-held computer, they recorded their moods throughout each day. Three times a day, for 30 days, they received an audible prompt from the computer. At each signal, they were to indicate their mood -- whether active, peppy, happy, relaxed, quiet, bored, sad, or nervous -- on the computer.

They also recorded virtually every drink they had. On the nights a party loomed ahead, a computer prompt every hour "told" them to record their drinks and the type of drink: regular, light, or low-alcohol beer, five types of wine, three types of liquor as well as brandy, cordials, and liqueur -- and how much they drank.

Every evening, each person rated -- on an eight-point scale -- the intensity of his or her desire to drink during the day. Choices of statements ranged from "I felt I could really use a drink" to "the idea of drinking was appealing."

Today on WebMD

young leukemia patient
Unhappy couple
embarrassed woman
Phobias frightened eyes
stressed boy in classroom
Distressed teen girl in dramatic lighting
man hiding with phone
chain watch