Anxiety and Addiction: What You Need to Know

anxiety and addiction

Anxiety and addiction are conditions that are more common than most people may realize. Unfortunately, when both of these conditions are present, they are known to exacerbate each other. If a person is not receiving adequate mental health treatment for existing issues, substance abuse is likely to progress. In the same way, when problems with substance abuse are being ignored, mental health tends to worsen. Luckily, there are effective strategies to take care of both issues at the same time. If you or a loved one is suffering from anxiety and addiction, here’s what you need to know.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is a condition that causes a person to be in a state of constant worry and fear. This condition can negatively affect one’s daily life including their performance at work and personal relationships. Studies indicate that nearly 40 million Americans suffer from some type of anxiety disorder yearly. 

When emotional distress interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder. Individuals can have different levels of anxiety, ranging from moderate to debilitating. Although the disorder does not receive the focus it should, it is a severe mental health condition.

Common Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Include:

  • Persistent worry
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • An unrealistic view of problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Sleepiness

Physical symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Trembling

GAD can occur along with:

  • Panic attacks
  • Agoraphobia
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Selective mutism
  • Separation and other specific phobias.

Health care professionals are also noticing that signs of anxiety disorders run in families. In other words, this shows there may be a strong biological basis, much like any other physical illness similar to diabetes or cardiac issues.

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Research shows that there is a set of factors that significantly contributes to the development of anxiety, including:

  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry function
  • Personality
  • Life events

Getting help early gives the person the best chance for an easy and full recovery.

Diagnosis and Mental Health Treatment

One of the most debilitating symptoms of this condition is always expecting the worst. This can be especially difficult when trying to achieve a new project or land a new job. At times, It can be difficult to simply remain positive, but reminding oneself that this is a treatable condition, can help tremendously.

It is essential to understand that different anxiety disorders have various courses of treatment. Some treatments are preventive, while some are for controlling symptoms or even as a solution to the problem. Prescription medications are beneficial for managing symptoms, but they work much better in conjunction with other forms of psychotherapy.

Antidepressants are one of the main tools to prevent, control or combat anxiety disorders, especially the SSRIs. Examples of some of these brand medications are Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. While these drugs may work for some, it is crucial for the person’s safety and well-being that they first see a health care provider. There they will receive an individual diagnosis and a treatment plan that fits their unique health needs.

Anxiety and Addiction

One of the most common mental health issues seen in persons with addiction is anxiety. The main reason is that substances like alcohol and drugs, provide an individual with temporary relief of emotional distress – some call it self-medicating. The issue is that this destructive cycle of substance abuse puts the person into a much deeper and downward spiral as time goes by.

Treating Substance Abuse

Substance abuse treatment will not eliminate anxiety disorder. In order to find full recovery, it is necessary to treat both. Well-established medical drug detoxification followed by behavioral therapy can lead to an accurate diagnosis. Once the patient is free of the substance and emotionally present the mental health professional can help him focus, identify, understand, and more importantly, change the thinking and behavior patterns.

No matter which disorder came first, it is important to get treated for both. First and foremost, it is important to find a provider that can effectively detox you from the addictive substance. Secondly, you need to find a mental health professional that will carefully diagnose your unique health needs. As much as we would like to have a specific answer that would work for everyone, that is simply not reality.

The most critical factor in successfully treating anxiety and addiction is finding the right treatment professionals. Make sure the treatment center has the services and resources that match your personal needs. Regardless of what path you choose, remember, help is available and life does not have to be this hard.