Anxiety is now one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions. Although a depth of anxiety is classed as positive, known as nervous energy or those butterfly feelings, for some individuals, an anxiety disorder can be experienced.
Here is where panic, worries, fears, phobias and perceived risks are experienced, known to control everyday life. Here is where those who experience an anxiety disorder can struggle to maintain an optimal quality of life. Yet, here is where the relationship between anxiety and alcohol use can also advance, classified as a highly correlating link.
As there are concerns that greater anxiety diagnoses are on the horizon, this correlation, where alcohol consumption is used as a coping mechanism is alarming. However, it’s also important to note the concerns on the other end of the spectrum, where initial excessive consumption of alcohol causes anxiety.
As there is a strong relationship between anxiety and alcohol use disorders, it is important that those suffering from either condition, or a depth of both understand the dangers of alcohol induced anxiety. Here’s a roundup of the complex link between anxiety and drinking, along with proactive treatments if you do suffer from a dual diagnosis.
Here at Action Rehab, we understand the severities of both mental health conditions. With this in mind, we are passionate about offering personal referrals to promote recovery. Get in touch if you have any questions regarding anxiety, alcohol consumption and their direct associations.
What is an anxiety disorder?
As mentioned above, a depth of anxiety is good for the body. It keeps us alert and responsive. As humans, in most situations, whether destressing, nerve-wracking or exciting, we will enter a ‘fight or flight’ reaction. For the average person, ‘fight or flight’ responses can be controlled, and will follow rational selections. However, for those suffering with an anxiety disorder, a dysfunctional response to either trigger will be present, where a lack of control will induce high levels of anxiety.
It is also important to note that those situations, where ‘fight or flight’ responses are activated will commonly be high threat experiences for the average individual. However, for someone suffering with anxiety, this can be the smallest, more personal trigger, resulting in an anxiety attack.
As there are a wide range of anxiety disorders, including panic disorders, social anxiety disorders, phobias and a generalised anxiety disorder, it can be difficult to provide a definite description of anxiety. However, the general consensus is that ongoing, severe levels of distress, stress and nervous energy are present for individuals suffering with anxiety, all linked to internal fears or concerns.
Common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:
- Irritability and the inability to settle
- Insomnia, headaches and chronic fatigue
- IBS related symptoms
- Extreme sweating, tension and twitches
- Shortness of breath, heart problems or palpitations
- Further mental health issues, such as depression
- Irrational decisions
- Dread or fear in relation to certain situations
Although the above symptoms can also reflect further physical or mental health issues, if you do experience a range of them, on a consistent basis, sourcing professional support will be recommended. An anxiety disorder could be developing, with a strong likelihood of advancing into further mental health issues or the likes of an alcohol use disorder if uncontrolled.
Why does alcohol increase anxiety?
When a human consumes alcohol, physical and psychological responses will change. A few drinks will have little impact. Yet, where excessive measures are consumed, anxiety and alcohol consumption are known to go hand in hand.
This is down to the adaptations which take place in the brain when alcohol is consumed. Hormone imbalances are experienced, perceptions are changed, and internal responses are delayed or damaged. Down to these adaptations, there is common experiences of alcohol induced anxiety diagnoses. There is also likelihood that blood flow, to and from the brain will be disrupted, known to heighten the reaction to fight or flight responses.
Over time, as excessive alcohol abuse can lead to the signs and symptoms of anxiety, there is a worry that irreversible changes will be experienced, strengthening the bond between both conditions. With this in mind, when consuming alcohol, it is important to be mindful about how your drink of choice is affecting your internal functions.
The link between anxiety and alcohol use
If you ask questions, such as the below, this outline is for you.
- Can alcohol make you feel anxious?
- Can alcohol cause long-term anxiety?
- Can anxiety cause excessive alcohol consumption?
- Does alcohol help anxiety?
- Is drinking to ease anxiety a thing?
- Should someone with anxiety, drink alcohol?
Both anxiety and alcohol use unfortunately do go hand in hand. Firstly, initial alcohol consumption can cause anxious feelings. As adaptations are experienced in the brain, symptoms of anxiety can present themselves. Over a short period of time, those symptoms will subsidise. However, through excessive alcohol consumption, an anxiety disorder can develop as a dual diagnosis. This link is very common for individuals suffering with an alcohol addiction, where both conditions in fact aggravate one another for the long-term.
On the other end of the spectrum, living with an anxiety disorder can in fact increase alcohol consumption. Many will opt for drinking to ease anxiety and its associated symptoms. Although some will initially believe that alcohol consumption is helping their anxiety, it will in fact worsen the strength of both, again resulting in a dual diagnosis if uncontrolled. To those living with anxiety, the damaging effects will be invisible, where consumption will continue as a coping strategy.
With this in mind, there is a strong relationship between anxiety and alcohol use disorders. Either can initially be present, resulting in a depth of the secondary condition.
Receiving treatment for a dual diagnosis
If you’re drinking to cure anxiety, or experience severe anxiety attacks while drinking, a dual diagnosis will commonly be present. In this instance, receiving standalone treatment for both conditions will be recommended.
However, through our rehab referral services, we can coincide the recovery efforts of both anxiety and alcohol use disorders, where commonly utilised treatment options are activated. To treat a dual diagnosis, it is likely that great psychological intervention will be required. Both anxiety and alcohol use disorders start to develop in the brain, causing cognitive changes. Therapy sessions, exposure therapy, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and support groups will be encouraged to treat both mental health conditions.
For those with primary alcohol problems, physical treatment options may also be required, ensuring that both sides of a dual diagnosis are suppressed.
If you are struggling with anxiety and alcohol use disorders, a depth of each or a singular mental health condition, we recommend reaching out for support sooner than later. A strong relationship is present between both conditions, known to develop if control isn’t regained.
Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 at 12:31 pm in Latest News.