Tag Archives: anxiety disorder

What Causes Anxiety?

We’ve all experienced it before: the nervous feeling that comes with different life situations. Whether you’re about to go on stage for a presentation or take on your first day at a new job, you may notice some symptoms of anxiety. But what if these feelings have become consistent? What if you feel scared all the time? There are a few different types of anxiety with various sources, so let’s look at each to help you understand where those feelings are coming from.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

What differentiates uneasy feelings from a mental health disorder is often the duration of symptoms. An anxiety disorder creates consistent feelings of nervousness either regardless of the circumstance or in response to specific situations. Diagnosable anxiety disorders listed in the DSM-5 include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Specific Phobias
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety

Each of these are linked to similar symptoms, like feeling restless, fidgeting, increased heart rate, and an impaired level of functioning. However, the causes of each condition can differ. 

What Causes Anxiety?

While there is not a current consensus on the causes of such conditions within the psychological research community, there are some sources or situations that we know can contribute to a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. 

Life circumstances are often an indicator of anxiety. For example, a child who grows up in an unstable home might react to the lack of consistency by developing separation anxiety. In their need for security, they attempt to cling to sources of comfort and can exhibit symptoms when they are not around their chosen comfort source. Generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder can also develop as a result of life circumstances. Constant changes in a home can make someone more sensitive to differences in routine, resulting in feelings of distress.

Another influential factor for anxiety is a triggering life event. Phobias and social anxiety disorder can develop due to a negative experience a person has in a specific situation. For example, someone who was bitten by a spider and ended up in the hospital could develop arachnophobia: an overwhelming fear of spiders. Social anxiety disorder can develop if a person had an embarrassing moment in front of a group of people, which in turn brings on feelings of distress in social situations. 

Finally, researchers believe genetics can make a person more susceptible to developing an anxiety disorder. It’s not uncommon to see such conditions develop in multiple members of a family, and research has shown there is a genetic component to anxiety. That, in combination with environmental factors, can increase the likelihood that someone will develop an anxiety disorder. 

Mental Health Treatment in Orange County, CA

If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, regardless of the cause, PACE Recovery Center can help. Our treatment model, designed specifically for men, utilizes evidence-based practices to help determine the source of your anxiety and develop healthy coping skills to alleviate symptoms. We offer outpatient treatment to fit with your schedule or residential treatment for a higher level of support. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Addiction Recovery: Coping With Anxiety

addiction recovery

A significant facet of addiction recovery is learning how to cope with feelings and emotions in healthy ways. In treatment, men and women learn techniques for managing unwanted feelings that can lead to cravings. Those who adopt practices like breathing exercises when they are feeling anxious are better able to manage their sensations.

While some people in recovery take prescription medications to mitigate their symptoms of anxiety, it can have a ripple effect for many individuals. Men and women in addiction recovery who have a co-occurring anxiety disorder are advised to avoid sedatives and tranquilizers. The most common prescription sedatives are benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium.

There is a good reason for steering clear of benzodiazepines or “benzos” while you are in recovery. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and carry a significant risk of overdose if misused. If you are in recovery and also struggle with anxiety, then your doctor has probably recommended that you try alternatives to medicine.

Exercise and meditation have been found to reduce people’s stress and anxiety. Perhaps you have already incorporated such routines into your day to day life? If not, please consider taking a walk to clear your mind or engaging in mindfulness exercises when you are feeling anxious.

If the suggestions above don’t produce the desired effect, then you can discuss non-habit-forming medications with your doctor. Many antidepressants are prescribed by physicians off-label, as they have been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety.

If you presented with an anxiety disorder in treatment, then it’s likely the center’s physicians prescribed you a non-addictive SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) such as Lexapro or Celexa. SSRIs have proven effective in treating generalized anxiety disorders (GAD), panic disorders, and social anxiety disorders.

Anxiety Disorders, Benzodiazepines, and Addiction Recovery

While it’s possible for people in recovery to take addictive medications as prescribed and avoid relapse, doing so is hardly worth the risk. Benzos are particularly hazardous for individuals in addiction recovery for alcohol use disorder. Many alcoholics are unaware that both benzodiazepines and alcohol are central nervous system depressants. What’s more, they each activate GABA in the brain, which results in reduced anxiety.

People recovering from an alcohol use disorder who start taking benzos to treat their anxiety unknowingly activate the same neurotransmitters as alcohol. Many recovering alcoholics have relapsed on alcohol after receiving a benzodiazepine prescription. Aside from the risk of relapse, people in recovery who take benzos can develop a substance use disorder.

Drugs like Klonopin and Ativan are meant to be taken for short durations and in small doses. Continued use leads to tolerance and the need to take more of the drug to produce the desired calming effect. Before one knows it, they become dependent on their anti-anxiety medication.

Anxiety, agitation, and insomnia are common amongst men and women in early recovery. Unless one has a diagnosed disorder, such feelings will occur less frequently and may completely subside over time. Turning to benzodiazepines while in addiction recovery, prescribed or otherwise, to cope with temporary sensations can severely derail your program.

Long-term sedative use can become addictive. Substantial misuse can cause an overdose, especially when mixed with another mind-altering substance. What’s more, those who attempt to stop taking benzodiazepines require medically supervised detox. The symptoms of benzo withdrawal can include life-threatening seizures.

If you are struggling with anxiety or sleep problems, then you will benefit significantly from looking for alternatives to sedatives. Learning to cope with uncomfortable feelings in healthy ways is possible, and doing so will not only strengthen your recovery, it will make you feel more positive.

A Hidden Facet of the American Addiction Epidemic

We would be remiss if we failed to share that we have a problem with prescription sedatives in America. New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that doctors are prescribing benzos at elevated rates, CNN reports. The CDC found that about 65.9 million office-based doctor visits resulted in a prescription for a benzodiazepine between 2014 and 2016.

Studies have shown that this type of central nervous system depressant is involved in overdose deaths quite frequently. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that about 30 percent of what is labeled an opioid overdose is an opioid-benzodiazepine overdose.

This is a really undercovered story,” said Keith Humphreys, a psychologist and Esther Ting Memorial Professor at Stanford University. “I think of it as the hidden element of our overdose epidemic that does need attention.”

Gender-Specific Substance Use Disorder Treatment

If you are an adult male who is struggling with benzodiazepines and a co-occurring anxiety disorder, then please contact PACE Recovery Center. Our dedicated team of professionals can help you adopt a program of addiction recovery. We rely on evidence-based therapies to ensure you are equipped to lead a positive life in long-term recovery.

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