There is an interesting question that arises that is, is alcohol abuse an anxiety disorder factor or is the anxiety disorder caused by alcohol abuse? It’s a classic that came first.
Introduction to Anxiety Disorder
Science has already noticed the hereditary factor in alcohol abuse, which indicates that a child of a person who has an alcohol abuse problem is at greater risk of having an alcohol abuse problem as well. The question could be, are they at greater risk due to alcohol itself or because living in a home with someone who has an alcohol abuse problem causes emotional and behavioral problems like anxiety disorders?
Anxiety is a normal type of coping mechanism that we all show. It helps us deal with stressful situations and keeps us tuned or focused on the tasks at hand. It is when anxiety takes over our normal thought patterns and makes us fear even the simplest tasks; they become a chronic and true disorder.
There are five types of anxiety disorders that are:
- Panic Disorders
- Social phobia or commonly known as social anxiety disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
How Alcohol Affects Anxiety Disorders
For some people having a drink at the end of the day is the perfect way to unwind from a stressful day, however for those with anxiety disorders alcohol can increase the symptoms of anxiety disorders and can even cause a severe panic attack. Even with that, the risk of alcohol abuse in people with anxiety disorders is very high.
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It is claimed that about 20% of people who are diagnosed with anxiety disorders also have an alcohol abuse problem and it is also noted that 20% of people with alcohol abuse problems also have anxiety disorders. It seems that one plays in the other very well, and causes both disorders to become chronically excessive problems that are disabling. People with some type of anxiety disorder have at least three times an increased risk of having an alcohol abuse problem and the same is true for the reverse. People who have alcohol abuse problems are also three times more likely to have anxiety disorders.
Which came first: anxiety or alcohol abuse?
There are many variables considering the combination of these two conditions that can be the following:
- The disorders are independent, which means that one does not cause the other, but one disorder can cause the other disorder to worsen.
- An anxiety disorder can cause an individual to use alcohol to relieve the symptoms of anxiety that later leads to alcohol abuse because actual use of alcohol tends to worsen the symptoms of anxiety. The worse the anxiety symptoms are, the more alcohol the individual uses to try to decrease anxiety.
- Alcohol abuse causes anxiety during specific times, such as when the individual is drinking and then during the time he/she is willing to drink.
- Physiological changes in the brain caused by alcohol abuse cause the manifestation of anxiety disorder symptoms at the same time that the individual is drinking. This means that in a normal brain the nervous system helps control anxiety by not allowing them to become exasperated. A brain that has been damaged by alcohol abuse has a damaged nervous system and cannot keep anxiety symptoms in check as it does in the normal brain.
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It was once thought that once an individual is treated and is recovering from alcohol abuse, the symptoms of anxiety disorders would be eliminated. It is now understood that these disorders are independent and need to be treated as such. Once alcohol abuse has been treated and the individual is recovering and not abusing the alcohol anymore, the anxiety symptoms will probably still be present. Anxiety disorder should be treated as an independent disorder to help the individual regain a normal life.
The Difficulties of Having Anxiety Disorder and Alcohol Abuse Disorder
When an individual has both alcohol abuses disorder as well as anxiety disorders it is a terrible and vicious cycle that plays for the individual on a daily basis. Anxiety causes them to drink to relieve symptoms, but alcohol makes the anxiety symptoms worse. The individual becomes anxious about when to drink again, causing even more anxiety. Other life-threatening complications or difficulties can be:
- Financial problems, physical medical problems, frequent hospitalizations and family problems.
- Problems with treatment.
- Individuals who have alcohol and anxiety disorders are more likely to fall back into alcoholism after completing treatment.
- There is a very real risk of prescription drug interactions when dealing with anxiety disorder and the individual continues with alcohol abuse. Dangerous side effects of combing alcohol prescriptions can cause extreme side effects or even death.
- The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are generally more intense in individuals who have both disorders.
These complications and difficulties are the reason why it is imperative to treat both disorders as independent disorders and not as co-disorders with one type of treatment “fix one, fix both.
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As you can see there is a very real link between anxiety disorders and alcohol abuse, but it is still very difficult to define what disorder actually caused the other in many cases. The two disorders seem to go hand in hand and are most commonly found as a combined problem for those with anxiety disorders as well as those with alcohol abuse problems. The most important factor to consider is not what caused what, but treat each disorder as your own problem. Healing one does not heal the other.
In the past, it was thought that if one disorder were eliminated, the other would naturally dissipate. However, recent studies have shown that this is not the case at all. To treat the individual completely, both anxiety disorder and alcohol abuse disorder should be treated as two very separate disorders requiring specialized treatment for each.
Shital regularly contributes on top health magazines and healthy living ideas to health blogs around the web. When she’s not busy working with the jobs, you will find her undertaking many of her own health-related topics and healthy living ideas! She has a lot of dreams. She works hard to fulfill her dreams. She loves to share her ideas, tricks, tips and information by blogging. She also works at Creativejasmin.com, a company that committed to helping businesses with online marketing.