Anxiety and Addiction: Coping with Comorbidity

Coping with comorbidity - Anxiety and Addiction

When someone dealing with an anxiety disorder feels overwhelmed by it, they often turn to the substance that has either been prescribed or shown recreationally to them as a way to cope with their illness. This often times leads to comorbidity. If someone is diagnosed with a mental disorder, they can develop a substance addiction and vice-versa. Because this is such a common occurrence, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of recognizing you or someone you know may be affected by this.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is an emotion that refers to the anticipation of future concern of an event that has not taken place yet. There are many things in our lives that can cause us to experience anxiety. At low levels, anxiety is a normal condition to experience on a week-to-week basis. It becomes a problem though when a person cannot lead a normal life because of how severe their anxiety has become.

According to recent research, anxiety disorders affect almost 30% of adults at some point in their lives, and these disorders can take shape in many forms. Some of the more commonly known disorders are:

    • Specific Phobia: fear of a specific object, situation or activity that is generally not harmful and most often times is recognized by the patient as being irrational
    • Social Anxiety Disorder: this disorder causes a person to have anxiety and discomfort in social situations and interactions with others and causes fear of being rejected, humiliated or looked down upon like when meeting new people or having to perform at a public speaking event
    • Panic Disorder: physical and psychological distress that brings recurring panic attacks that cause a person’s body to sweat, feel numb and nauseous
    • Agoraphobia: fear of being in situations where escape may be difficult or embarrassing like using public transportation, being in enclosed spaces or standing in a crowded area
    • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: excessive and persistent worry that interferes with everyday activities that can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, insomnia and even muscle tension
    • Separation Anxiety Disorder: worry and fear of being separated from those whom he or she loves and is attached to, symptoms of distress often develop in childhood and carry over into adulthood  

FHE Blog - Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety and Addiction: How the Two Relate

Because anxiety disorders cause such extreme reactions to certain situations, day-to-day living for someone suffering from one of these disorders can become almost unbearable. Medication that calms down the neurotransmitters in the brain, such as Xanax and Buspar, are often prescribed to those facing an anxiety disorder. Both of these medications, when used correctly, can help an individual cope with their disorder in a healthy way. Often times, though, the individual using these medications becomes dependent on them and associates them with the only way to live a “normal” life.

Addiction and anxiety disorders coincide because more often than not, one follows the other. When someone develops an anxiety disorder, they can start to abuse the use of their medication in order to cope with their condition. The same goes for when someone starts abusing medication, they often develop a mental illness like an anxiety disorder. The cycle continues to be never-ending because of this.

Recognizing Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

There are many symptoms of anxiety disorders that you should make yourself aware of in order to decide whether or not it is serious enough for you to seek professional help. Excessive worrying is the main symptom and probably the most prevalent when diagnosing an anxiety disorder. The excessive worrying can also lead to agitation and make an individual’s body and mind feel as though it’s in danger.

Worrying so much at night makes it very hard to fall asleep, which is why another typical symptom of anxiety disorders is insomnia. This then leads to other symptoms like fatigue and difficulty concentrating during daily activities.

In severe cases, symptoms such as panic attacks arise when dealing with an anxiety disorder. This is when the body feels as though it is having a heart attack because of the quickened heart rate and lack of breath. These can be caused by constant stress and unwanted social interaction.  

How Dual-Diagnosis Can Help

When an individual has a dual-diagnosis, it means they have both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder at the same time. It does not matter which disorder develops first, but it is important for both disorders to be equally recognized in order to start the treatment process. By acknowledging that both disorders are present, it gives professionals a better sense of how to treat both at once.

Dual-diagnosis treatment is based on integrated intervention, which is when both the mental illness and substance abuse disorder are treated at the same time. Treatment starts with getting patients the help they need with their substance abuse. In order to work on their mental illness, they must first become sober. After the initial detoxification, the individual must remain in supportive housing to slowly regain a normal lifestyle and to be surrounded by like-minded people who are struggling with similar situations as they are. This helps them realize they are not alone in their journey.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is present in our everyday lives, but sometimes it can be too much to bear. If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from an anxiety disorder and/or a substance addiction, our team here at Florida House is here to help in whatever treatment we find is the best fit.

Some treatment options for those who are ready to overcome their disorders include psychotherapies, medication management, holistic therapies, and others. Our programs use state-of-the-art brain imaging and genetic testing to provide patients with a full comprehension of their condition as well as more of an understanding of why they face the anxiety that they do.

If you believe you need assistance with getting your anxiety disorder at bay, please do not hesitate to contact us today at (844) 299-0618 and get the help and information you need.

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