The line between worrying and having an anxiety disorder occurs when a person experiences emotions more significant than the event that triggered the anxiety in the first place. Anxiety disorders disrupt your ability to function in your everyday life. The limbic system’s response to stress disrupts daily life.
Our fight or flight reaction comes from the limbic system in our brain. The limbic section of our brain is where researchers found addiction stems. This part of the brain also regulates mood, attention, parts of rage, memory, and sex. Addiction is more significant in individuals diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than those without an anxiety disorder.
There are three types of anxiety disorders. Each type includes symptoms that occur at varying levels. Not everyone has the same intensity of feelings or the same triggers. The types of anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorders
- Social Anxiety
Distinctive symptoms identify each type of anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can occur alone or with another anxiety or mental health disorder. Many times anxiety disorders and depression co-occur. Talk with your therapist about the symptoms you experience to determine if you have an anxiety disorder or a combination of anxiety and depression. The signs of each type of anxiety disorder are distinctive. The symptoms of panic, generalized, and social anxiety are as follows:
Panic Disorders Symptoms:
- Attacks of fear
- Excessive worry about the attacks of fear returning
- Loss of control over feelings of fear
- Avoidance of places where fear attacks happened
Generalized Anxiety Disorder includes:
- Experiencing fatigue
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Tense muscles
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Problems falling asleep or staying asleep
Social Anxiety Symptoms:
- Feeling anxious because interacting with others is difficult
- Have difficulty with making friends or keeping friends
- Avoiding people
- Being overly worried about being judged
- Difficulty speaking, blushing or sweating when others are near
- Feeling violently ill in situations of interaction with people
“Maybe my addictive tendencies weren’t limited to my zest for things I could drink. Like maybe (I learned while working with my therapist), I had broader issues with control and addiction and using substances to dial down my anxiety. And maybe self-medication is an unsafe way of trying to quiet the noise of a mental health disorder. And maybe alcoholism also runs in the family.”
― Anne T. Donahue, Nobody Cares
The urge to self-medicate feelings of anxiety with alcohol or drugs is strong because drinking or using provides temporary relief. Unfortunately, drinking or using substances causes long-term damage to the brain, while it relieves anxiety symptoms.
Alcohol or substance consumption can be benign in the beginning. Using alcohol or substance use relieves anxiety. The brain’s effect is building receptors that depend on alcohol or a substance to induce relaxation or feeling calm. Over time tolerance to alcohol or substances occurs, and more is needed to achieve the same feeling of calm once produced by a small amount. Repeated drinking or substance use leads to addiction.
Continued drinking or substance use affects our lives. We take chances we wouldn’t usually make, such as driving under the influence or engaging in risky behavior. Individuals can also experience a loss of interest in sports or hobbies or neglect their responsibilities when drinking or using overtakes normal activities. Alcohol or substance dependence can change our relationships.
Our family and friends can react to our changed behavior by adopting roles that disrupt family dynamics. Our alcohol or substance dependence shifts how we see our position in the family. We can distance ourselves, become manipulative, or become dependent on others to cover for us.
Seeking help for an anxiety disorder and addiction is the first step in learning how to spot triggers and employ healthy coping mechanisms. Beginning treatment isn’t easy because it means your body will be withdrawing from alcohol or drugs. The medical staff in a treatment center will monitor your body’s response to withdrawal and begin to work with you to identify the root of your anxiety.
Recovery programs are available. An assessment of our needs and the level of care required will occur at the first appointment. There are two primary forms of treatment: in-patient and out-patient.
In-patient treatment means a patient checks into a treatment or medical center for around the clock care for a specified amount of time. The length of stay at an in-patient facility depends on a patient’s need for medical, therapeutic, and social responsibility.
Out-patient care doesn’t necessitate a person staying at a facility. A patient attends therapy and group sessions according to their treatment plan. There are several types of outpatient treatment. Patients may meet one or two times a week for two to three hours. Intensive outpatient programs often consist of two to three days a week, from 3 to 4 hours. The highest level of outpatient care is partial hospitalization. These programs meet 5 to 7 days a week for 4 to 6 hours a day.
Anxiety disorders are treatable. Through therapy, medical intervention, and gene testing, we understand how anxiety disorders and addiction are linked. Understanding our brain’s genetic composition affects how we respond to stress, and our environment is essential for comprehensive care. At Achieve Medical Center, we focus on the patient as an individual. Every person has symptoms that are unique to their emotional and physical ability to cope with anxiety. After an initial diagnosis, we involve you in your treatment plan and can adjust prescriptions if a diagnosis of another mental health disorder occurs. We believe each patient needs to receive comprehensive care to be successful in their recovery journey. We offer gene testing, therapy, and medical services, meeting the patient’s needs. If you have any questions, please contact Achieve Medical Center: (858) 221-0344.