Everyone gets nervous every now and then, but for some, anxiety can be so severe that it impacts daily life. If you have an anxiety disorder, you will deal with frequent, intense, and persistent periods of fear, nervousness, terror, or worry. These bouts of anxiety are often triggered by everyday situations, and they often make it impossible to function normally. There are several types of anxiety that all have their own distinct characteristics.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: GAD causes exaggerated worry and chronic anxiety.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: Also called a social phobia, this is anxiety that primarily centers around social interactions.
- Panic Disorder: This type of anxiety is characterized by panic attacks, where a person will have repeated bouts of panic that include chest pain, trouble breathing, stomach problems, dizziness, or heart palpitations.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: PTSD happens after traumatic events and is frequently triggered by things that remind a person of the event.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Those with this type of anxiety feel the need to engage in repetitive behaviors as a way of managing recurrent, unwanted thoughts. Not performing these rituals can further increase anxiety.
What Causes General Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety essentially happens when the natural “fight or flight” instinct is triggered by real or imagined threats. Even when situations are safe and comfortable at home, a person with anxiety can randomly have their heart rate go up, their breathing intensify, and their system flooded with cortisol as their body prepares for extreme danger. This condition has both a mental and a physical component. The precise causes of anxiety are unknown, but mental health experts have found that anxiety is closely linked to a few risk factors. Those who have experienced intense trauma or stress are more likely to have anxiety. It is also more common in people who have a relative with anxiety or those who abuse drugs and alcohol.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety?
Anxiety can have both physical and mental symptoms. You may have an anxiety disorder if you experience one or more of these symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability and tenseness
- Unshakable feelings of dread or apprehension
- A constant need to be on the lookout for danger
- An inability to think positively
- Frequent anticipation of disaster
- Pounding heart
- High blood pressure
- Frequent sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping
- Headaches and upset stomach
What Are the Risks of Co-Occurring Addiction Issues?
A co-occurring addiction occurs when a person has both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. 20 percent of all people with an anxiety disorder end up dealing with alcohol abuse or dependence. Alcohol is one of the most common types of addiction among those with anxiety because it is legally available and often viewed as a socially acceptable way of relaxing. Some other common substances abused are things like benzodiazepines or marijuana, which can help people relax. It is also fairly common for people to abuse cocaine, methamphetamine, or other stimulants that help them focus and feel more social.
These numbers are so high because alcohol and other drugs can provide a welcoming numbing sensation to those with anxiety. People may start using drugs as a coping mechanism occasionally, and over time, they may turn to them more and more. Eventually, it can get to the point where a person with an anxiety disorder cannot cope without their drug of choice. Unfortunately, anxiety gets worse when a person has poor health and is altering their brain chemistry with dangerous drugs. This turns into a vicious cycle, where the mental disorder worsens the addiction and the addiction heightens the mental disorder. This is why treating anxiety disorder and substance abuse is so important.
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Seek Help?
Many people put off treating an anxiety disorder and substance abuse because they think their anxiety isn’t that bad or they assume they have their drug and alcohol abuse under control. Being able to recognize when you need care for anxiety and addiction is actually one of the most important steps of recovering. These are some of the signs you need help:
- Your drug or alcohol use is harming your mental, physical, emotional, or social health.
- Your anxiety is getting in the way of your usual routine.
- You have regular panic attacks.
- You want to quit using drugs or alcohol but cannot cut back.
- You are avoiding socializing with others or participating in hobbies due to anxiety or a desire to use drugs instead.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you quit using drugs or alcohol.
- Your anxiety is keeping you from sleeping, eating, or performing other necessary tasks.
- You are constantly bothered by fears and worries, even though you know they’re irrational
How Are Anxiety and Substance Abuse Treated?
Because anxiety and addiction are so closely related, treating both at the same time is recommended. Managing anxiety will help make it easier to focus on sobriety and avoid relapsing. At the same time, treating addiction keeps drug and alcohol use from worsening anxiety. In most cases, a blend of medication and psychotherapy is recommended for dual diagnosis treatment. Therapy identifies addiction and anxiety triggers and provides patients with healthier ways of coping with them. At the same time, it can be helpful to take non-addictive medications that assist with anxiety or depression.
At Defining Wellness Centers, we provide the focused care needed for treating anxiety disorder and substance abuse. Our licensed clinicians provide all sorts of helpful dual diagnosis treatment, like trauma therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps address the root causes of addiction and anxiety. With the right care, you can begin your journey to wellness. Take the first step in healing by getting in touch with us now.