Anxiety disorder is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a disorder that causes the afflicted individual incessant worry, paranoia, and concern that can hinder daily functioning and cripple livelihood. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that approximately 40 million adults have some form of an anxiety disorder.
Various subtypes of anxiety exist, including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Who does anxiety affect?
Anxiety disorders are more common among certain populations, including females, those who have endured a trauma, those with a family history of anxiety, persons with other mental health issues, and substance abusers. In fact, about 20 percent of people with anxiety or mood disorders also engage in substance abuse, and the reverse is also true, the ADAA reports. When othermental health disorders are present, the anxiety disorder can worsen.
Anxiety can manifest in a variety of symptoms, such as:
- Clammy hands
- Feelings of fear or panic
- Trouble sleeping
- Heart palpitations
- Inability to focus
- Excessive perspiration
Treatment for anxiety and substance abuse
The National Institute on Mental Health reports that 45 percent of individuals with a mental illness have two or more comorbid disorders. When co-occurring issues are present – such as anxiety and alcohol abuse, or cocaine use and anxiety – treatment can become more complex. It’s imperative that both issues are treated simultaneously in order to achieve a complete recovery. If only the anxiety issue is treated, the substance abuse may continue, and eventually lead to continued anxiety. Likewise, if only the substance abuse is addressed, anxiety may later lead the individual back to abusing drugs or alcohol in an effort to control the anxiety.
Treatment for anxiety is determined based on patient health history. No one treatment method is best; care must be catered to the individual. Those who suffer from anxiety due to phobias, for example, may benefit from medication like Xanax, which can mitigate anxiety symptoms. In addition, exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to chip away at the fear and trepidation that are attached to certain events or actions for the individual.
For some patients, anxiety leads to substance dependency or addiction through the use of benzodiazepine medications. These drugs are highly addictive and shouldn’t be used for more than four to six weeks at most, but shorter treatment lengths are recommended. The Royal College of Psychiatrists notes that four in 10 individuals who use benzos daily for six weeks or longer will develop addiction. In the year preceding a 2008 publication, 112.8 million prescriptions were filled for benzodiazepines in the United States, according to Psychiatry.
Help is available
If you, or someone you know, are struggling with an anxiety disorder, real help is available. With comprehensive care, you can gain control of your anxiety, learning how to mitigate the symptoms and rework your thought patterns to regain control of your life. We’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how our treatment programs.