When mental health disorders coexist with substance abuse, which they often do, determining the root cause of the problem is essential to a successful recovery. By using a dual diagnosis approach to drug addiction treatment, those suffering from these issues can stand a chance at leading healthy, balanced lives. A dual diagnosis occurs when a mental illness and addiction are both present.
Recently, this blog took a close look at depression, and how this common disorder can affect a person, including driving them to drink to excess or abuse drugs. Another common mental health issue that can go hand-in-hand with depression and substance abuse is anxiety.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million adults in the United States are affected by anxiety disorders. Although anxiety disorders have the potential to be life-disrupting, the good news is that they are easy to treat. It is also common for anxiety and depression to occur together, with close to half of individuals suffering from depression also experiencing anxiety, the ADAA reports. Proper diagnosis and treatment from a mental health professional will be critical to the recovery process.
What is anxiety?
Everyone is familiar with feelings of nervousness or fear. These feelings are a normal part of life that may happen in times of stress or worry, and then dissipate when the stressful situation has ended. However, an anxiety disorder can take these feelings to a new level. When a person suffers from anxiety, he or she experiences levels of distress that begins to interfere with the ability to handle and manage daily life.
When anxiety begins to overwhelm a person's life, that person is suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can manifest themselves in several different ways. For example, someone suffering from social anxiety disorder will feel the most stress in social situations and worry if they are being judged by others in these settings, whereas generalized anxiety disorder means the affected individual feels excessive worry and stress even when no cause of these feelings may be present. Other types of anxiety disorders include specific phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic disorders.
A person suffering from a panic disorder may experience what is known as a "panic attack." A panic attack is an episode in which the person experiencing it will have a release of adrenaline, causing an accelerated breathing and heart rate. These symptoms happen as part of the "fight or flight" response that the body enacts as an instinct when danger is imminent and it is time to flee. While this response was helpful to humans from an evolutionary perspective, it can be life disrupting in the modern age. A person feeling nervous about anything from public speaking to flying in an airplane may live in fear of having a panic attack.
Anxiety and substance abuse
To keep the feelings of panic, worry and extreme nervousness at bay, those struggling with anxiety may turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self medicate. In fact, the ADAA reports that roughly 20 percent of Americans with a substance abuse disorder are also suffering from some form of anxiety or depression.
Being able to recognize the signs of an anxiety disorder can help catch the problem and get the necessary treatment before things get worse. Some of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include sleeping problems, nausea, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, shortness of breath, muscle tension and feeling worried, fearful and panicked.
Fairwinds Treatment Center was founded in 1989 by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef to treat mental health issues, like anxiety disorders, and substance abuse with a unique dual diagnosis methodology. Our dual diagnosis approach helps reveal the psychological triggers behind addiction and resolve them through a combination of therapeutic counseling and clinical treatment. Contact Fairwinds today to learn more about our addiction treatment centers.