What is an Anxiety Disorder?
Feeling anxious from time to time is a normal part of life, and it can actually be beneficial – e.g. a bit of anxiety before a big exam might encourage you to study hard so you perform well on the day. The problem is that sometimes anxiety can become such a part of our lives that it starts to become damaging to us. When this happens, it can bad that we are diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder.
Some of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder would include:
• A recurrent sense that things are about to go wrong (even where there may be no logical threat)
• Feelings of panic
• Difficult sleeping
• Feeling antsy – you find it hard to just sit still
• Sweaty hands
• Racing thoughts
• Panic attacks
• Heart palpitations
• Obsessive thinking
• Dizzy spells
The exact symptoms we experience will depend on the type of anxiety disorder we are dealing such as:
• General anxiety disorder
• Social anxiety disorder
• Panic disorder
Anxiety Disorder and Addiction
Many of us who develop addiction problems will also have problems with anxiety – when this happens, we may be referred to as having a ‘dual diagnosis’.
It may be that you initially turned to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to deal with your symptoms of anxiety. When you first did this, it probably seemed to be helping you feel better. Unfortunately, the way these substances act on the body and mind means that over time such self-medication just makes our situation worse – you end up having two serious mental health problems instead of one.
There are also going to be lots of us who develop an anxiety disorder as a result of substance abuse. Alcohol and drugs can have an incredibly toxic impact on metal processes and increasing anxiety can also be a symptom of our life falling apart due to the process of addiction. In most of these cases, just stopping the addiction will lead to a significant improvement in anxiety symptoms – although they may still be there during early recovery.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
If you need help for an addiction problem, while also dealing with an anxiety disorder, it may be best to choose dual diagnosis treatment. What this means is that both of these conditions will be dealt with at the same time. This is important because you may have been using alcohol or drugs to help you deal with your anxiety symptoms, and you need something better to replace this old coping strategy.
Without dual diagnosis treatment for anxiety disorder, you may end up in a type of catch-22 situation. The fact that your anxiety symptoms are not being controlled can make it hard for you to benefit from a regular rehab program, but it can be almost impossible to successfully treat your anxiety symptoms while you are abusing alcohol drugs. It is for this reason that dual diagnosis treatment makes so much sense.
If you have any concerns for yourself or a loved one regarding anxiety then please contact Twin Rivers Rehab through our contact page.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process