Of the 20.3 million adults with substance use disorders, 37.9% also have at least one mental illness, according to figures from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Because mental health issues can negatively impact our lives, it’s especially important to address them when treating addiction. The goal at Broad Beach Recovery Center is to help each client gain the courage to face difficult issues, heal from emotional trauma, overcome grief and loss, and become accountable for their own feelings, behaviors, and recovery.

What You Need to Know About Anxiety Disorders

There are three types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), phobias, and panic disorders. Those suffering from anxiety disorders often experience intense, sustained anxiousness and nervousness, worrying excessively. These feelings go well beyond the typical kind of worry that is appropriate to life situations, and they are severe enough to interfere with day-to-day functioning in school, at work, or in social situations. Additional symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include restlessness, a heart-pounding sensation, muscle tension and fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances, according to Understanding Anxiety Disorders, a guide produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The condition can leave individuals so consumed by fear and drained of energy that they are unable to maintain relationships and usual activities. The good news is that this is a treatable disorder. By engaging in treatment and entering recovery, people with an anxiety disorder can manage their symptoms, feel better, and lead a full, meaningful life.

brain research for anxiety

What Causes Anxiety Disorders?

But where do anxiety disorders come from in the first place? Researchers and healthcare professionals do not completely understand what causes anxiety disorders. It is unlikely that a single factor is to blame. The most likely cause is a combination of genetics, chemical or other changes in the brain, and environmental factors. Traumatic experiences can also contribute to the development of psychiatric disorders. If you have experienced a traumatic incident, it is critical to share that information as it may be contributing to your condition. When it comes to mental health issues like anxiety, working with a trained healthcare professional is key to moving forward.

Anxiety & Substance Abuse

Those who experience anxiety are at greater risk for substance use and abuse. Sufferers may self-medicate in an attempt to manage their symptoms. This may seem to work for a while, but it usually leads to the development of a co-occurring addiction involving alcohol, illicit drugs or misused prescription medications. Comorbidity in substance use and mental health disorders is very prevalent in the U.S., with  7.7 million adults reporting co-occurring mental and substance use disorders, according to drugabuse.gov. These dually diagnosed disorders may vary in seriousness, but they usually each contribute to making the other condition worse. To avoid exacerbating either issue, co-occurring treatment that addresses both the substance use and the mental health disorder is recommended.

Treating Anxiety Disorders

An anxiety disorder can be managed in several ways, but treatment often includes a combination of medication and therapy. You should discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider, making decisions based on individual health goals and priorities. The treatment path taken should be based on many factors, including the severity of symptoms. It is also important to practice good self-care, from a healthy diet and exercise, to getting good sleep and abstaining from illicit drugs.

Medications (particularly a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs) can help manage many of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Because each person reacts differently to these medications, the prescribing healthcare professional may try different doses and different kinds of medication before finding the most effective approach. In milder cases of anxiety disorders, medication may not be necessary. Therapy or lifestyle changes (e.g., smoking cessation, decreased caffeine intake, regular exercise, or mindfulness exercises) may be sufficient to manage symptoms.

group therapy

Healthcare professionals may also recommend behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or other forms of psychotherapy as standalone treatment or in combination with medications depending on severity of symptoms. Peer and family support is also an important part of treatment for an anxiety disorder. Positive family members, caregivers, and peers can be part of a comprehensive treatment team.

Find out more from these trusted sources…

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Anxiety and Depression Association of America  
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration