Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Generalised anxiety disorder is a mental illness characterised by anxiety that occurs on most days over a period of six months or more. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry or fear that typically occurs under stressful circumstances. Rather than worrying over a specific stressful event, someone with generalised anxiety disorder worries about many things, including social interactions, family relationships, work and school. In addition to chronic worrying, GAD may cause the following symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Sleep problems
Phobia-related disorders develop due to intense fear associated with specific objects or situations. Several types of phobia-related disorders increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder, including social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, specific phobias and agoraphobia.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety is a mental illness caused by intense fear of social situations. Although it’s possible for social anxiety to improve with age, most people need to complete some type of treatment program to learn how to manage the disorder. People with social anxiety may experience the following:
- Fear of criticism
- Worrying about social events
- Sweating or blushing
- Panic attacks
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Like other mental health conditions associated with anxiety, separation anxiety disorder causes a significant amount of worry. This type of anxiety occurs in response to an intense fear of being separated from loved ones. People with separation anxiety may feel afraid to be alone or worry that their loved ones will be harmed if they’re not together. Although separation anxiety is most common in children, it can also occur in adults, resulting in crying, physical illness, nightmares, irritability or refusal to be separated from loved ones.
Many objects and situations can trigger intense fear, so spiders, snakes, blood, flying and heights may all result in severe anxiety. In addition to debilitating fear, a phobia may cause dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, upset stomach, increased heart rate or heart palpitations.
Agoraphobia is characterised by an intense fear of entering a crowded place, being in a place that would be difficult to escape from, leaving home or entering open spaces. People with agoraphobia may have difficulty attending social functions, avoid amusement parks and other crowded places, experience anxiety in enclosed spaces or have difficulty leaving the house to work, attend classes or run errands. When confronted with a frightening situation, someone with agoraphobia may feel sick or experience sweating, rapid heartbeat or rapid breathing.
Panic disorder is characterised by frequent panic attacks, which are episodes of intense fear that come on suddenly. Some people have panic attacks after exposure to a specific stimulus, while others experience panic attacks for no discernible reason. During a panic attack, it’s common to experience palpitations, sweating, trembling, feelings of “impending doom” and shortness of breath.
Anxiety and Substance Abuse
There’s a strong link between anxiety and substance use disorders, especially in people who have additional risk factors for addiction. People with anxiety may develop substance abuse problems when they drink or use drugs in an attempt to control their symptoms. Conversely, people who struggle with substance abuse may develop an anxiety disorder due to long-term use of alcohol, prescription drugs or illicit substances. No matter which mental health condition develops first, it’s important to get treatment for both problems.
Treatment for Anxiety Disorders and Substance Abuse
Although anxiety disorders can interfere with daily life, there are many treatment options available. Some of these treatments are also used to help people with substance use disorders. The most common treatment methods include medications and psychotherapy, often used in combination with each other.
Medications for Anxiety Disorders
Many anxiety disorders are managed with medications that treat anxiety and make it easier to manage other symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), calcium modulators, tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors have all been used to treat anxiety disorders in adults. Benzodiazepines may also be used to treat severe anxiety as it occurs. Benzodiazepines usually take 30 to 90 minutes to work, making them highly effective for treating anxiety in the moment.
Therapy for Anxiety Disorders
Like many mental health conditions, anxiety may respond to several types of therapy, limiting the amount of medication needed to control symptoms of GAD and other anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) tends to be the most effective, as it helps people with anxiety learn specific skills to manage their symptoms. By participating in CBT, people with anxiety disorders have a chance to return to activities they’ve been avoiding due to their excessive worrying. A therapist may also recommend exposure therapy, or gradual exposure to objects or situations that trigger anxiety, to help people with anxiety manage their symptoms.
Substance Abuse Treatment Options
Therapy and medications are also the most common forms of substance abuse treatment. With the right therapist, someone with a substance use disorder can uncover the root causes of their addiction, identify the triggers that make them more likely to engage in substance use and discuss harmful family dynamics that could be contributing to addiction. Some people with substance use disorders also have post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that may improve with eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR therapy helps people recover from past trauma, which may lead to an improvement in their PTSD symptoms.
Medications are often prescribed during the initial detox process, which is when the elimination of alcohol and drugs from the body can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, tremors and other uncomfortable symptoms. People with substance use disorders may also take medications to prevent relapse. For example, some people with opioid addiction take medications to block the effects of opioids on the brain.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders in Switzerland
Clinic Les Alpes is a luxury rehabilitation facility licensed by the Swiss Department of Health to provide medical, psychological and holistic treatment to patients struggling with anxiety, substance use disorders and other mental health conditions. To learn more about how Clinic Les Alpes can help you overcome an addiction and regain control of your life, call (877) 630-4284.