Anxiety as a Co-occurring Disorder

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SpringBoard Recovery is an alcohol and drug rehab center that treats co-occuring disorders including anxiety. Mental health issues are often a problem for those struggling with substance abuse. These two situations happening at the same time is known as a co-occurring disorder. Anxiety can be considered a co-occurring disorder.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion. It is feeling tense or nervous about an upcoming event or situation. Most people feel anxious from time to time. But, feeling anxious all the time is not normal. Intense worry or fear about general everyday situations is also abnormal. These events or situations are examples of an anxiety disorder.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders look different for each person facing them. There are categories that certain behaviors are part of. Sometimes people can experience more than one kind of anxiety disorder.

The feelings of anxiety and panic are difficult to control. The feelings are more extreme than the possible danger that is being faced. There are cases where anxiety is caused by a medical condition.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is when someone feels intensely worried about everyday things often. This goes well beyond the normal emotion of nervousness. These feelings interfere with normal life activities. Someone with GAD could feel extreme anxiety often for months or longer.

Symptoms of GAD can include:

  • Having trouble controlling feelings of nervousness or worrying
  • Worrying excessively about everyday things
  • Having a hard time concentrating
  • Knowing that they worry too much
  • Feeling irritable
  • Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Startle easy
  • Headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pain
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling restless, not being able to relax
  • Rapid heart rate and breathing
  • Trembling or twitching
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Feeling out of breath or lightheaded
  • Excessive worry about natural disasters or war
  • Excessive worry over their health, or the health of others
  • Excessive worry over household chores, finances, being late
  • Having a sense of impending danger or doom
  • The urge to avoid situations or places that could trigger anxiety

Social Anxiety Disorder

Many people will feel nervous in some social situations, like public speaking or a first date. But with social anxiety disorder, significant anxiety happens during everyday social interactions. People will feel embarrassed and self-conscious. Like they are being judged negatively by the other people around them.

Symptoms of social anxiety include constant:

  • Worry about embarrassing themselves
  • Fearing situations where they might be judged negatively
  • Intense fear of talking to strangers
  • Avoiding situations where they might be the center of attention
  • Fearing physical signs of being embarrassed like blushing or having a shaky voice
  • Intense fear or anxiety during social interactions
  • Fearing others noticing that they look anxious
  • Avoiding doing activities or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
  • Expecting the worst possible outcome of a negative social situation

Some physical symptoms that could happen with social anxiety disorder:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Blushing
  • Muscle tension
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling that the mind has gone blank

A possible cause of social anxiety can be connected to a particular section of the brain. The amygdala is partially in control of the fear response in the body. People with an overactive amygdala have a bigger fear response. This can cause an increase in anxiety during social situations.

Panic Disorder

A panic attack is when someone feels overwhelmed and terrified when they are not in danger. If someone has had two panic attacks and changes their routine to avoid another one, it is a panic disorder.

People with panic disorder are constantly worried about having another panic attack. A panic attack is when someone has any four of the following symptoms at the same time:

  • Shortness of breath or the feeling of being smothered
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or stomach pain
  • Throat tightness
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Sense of approaching danger
  • A choking feeling
  • Sweating
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Feeling unreal or detached
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • A fear of dying
  • Numbness or tingling

A panic attack can feel like a stroke or heart attack. It can last for five to ten minutes, but the feelings can linger for hours.

Sometimes people will think the panic attack was caused by where they were when it happened. This can lead to avoiding places. Continuing to avoid places can lead to agoraphobia. This is the fear of leaving home or being in public places.

Panic attacks usually start without a triggering event. Sometimes they could start while someone is asleep. There are cases where medications can cause a panic attack. They sometimes happen after the use of mind-altering drugs.

Other Types of Anxiety Disorders

Agoraphobia was mentioned above. There are also specific phobias. This is the intense fear of a specific object or place. It could be something like spiders or enclosed spaces. The fear is more intense than what is appropriate. It can cause people to avoid places and situations.

Anyone can get separation anxiety disorder. A person will feel anxious when someone they are close to leaves their sight. They worry that something bad will happen to their loved ones.

Medication-induced anxiety disorder is when a medication triggers symptoms of anxiety disorder. This can also happen after using an illicit drug. Withdrawals from some drugs can also cause symptoms of anxiety disorder.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Medication and therapy are usually used to treat anxiety disorders. Antidepressants are often prescribed. Benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, or beta-blockers might also be used.

Talk therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are often used to help treat anxiety disorders. Learning a healthy way to manage negative thoughts can make a significant impact on anxiety problems. Sometimes the combination of therapy and medication is the best approach.

SpringBoard Recovery can Help With Co-occurring Disorders

Some illicit drugs can cause anxiety disorders. Sometimes people turn to drugs to try to treat anxiety disorders on their own. Either way, the best approach is to treat substance abuse and anxiety disorders at the same time.

SpringBoard Recovery helps people break free from substance use and anxiety. Contact us today for information.

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