Different people have different reactions to drinking alcohol. There’s the fun drunk, who’s the one likely to climb on a table and put on an impromptu concert. There’s the philosophical drunk, who suddenly finds the answers to all of life’s problems after a few shots. There’s the morose drunk, who after one drink too many will start sobbing and lamenting every poor decision he’s made in life. It turns out, though, that the different emotions we feel while drinking aren’t entirely up to an individual’s personality. A new study out of the United Kingdom has determined that different types of alcohol can actually inspire different emotional responses.
The study was carried out by researchers from Public Health Wales and Kings College London and published in the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Open. It used data from an online anonymous questionnaire promoted internationally through newspapers, magazines, and social media from November 2015 to January 2016. Participants were asked about certain feelings – energized, relaxed, sexy, confident, tired, aggressive, ill, restless, and tearful – after consuming different alcoholic beverages.
The results showed that hard liquor made almost half of all participants feel sexy. It also made nearly a third feel aggressive, compared to less than 7 percent of beer drinkers and 3 percent of wine drinkers. Drinking spirits (unsweetened distilled alcoholic beverages) made respondents feel more aggressive – 29.8 percent reported the feeling compared with only 7.1 percent who were drinking red wine. Spirits were also more likely to incite restlessness, tearfulness, and feelings of illness. Women reported feeling all emotions apart from aggressiveness more strongly after drinking any alcohol.
Most of the findings weren’t surprising. 53 percent of the participants reported that red wine made them feel relaxed, but we already know that red wine contains melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Similarly, 50 percent reported feeling relaxed after drinking beer, but beer contains carbohydrates, which can cause fatigue after your blood sugar spikes and then plummets.
The study authors hoped to not only help people understand that there are negative as well as positive emotions associated with drinking, but to try and figure out who might be more susceptible to these emotional changes.
Critics of the study say that the results don’t really tell us much, because there was virtually no information available about the participants other than that they were between the ages of 18 and 34 and had consumed all four types of alcohol at some point in the previous 12 months. There was no way to take into account a person’s mood before they began drinking, how quickly they were drinking, or what sort of social situation they were in.
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