Why and How the Body Responds To Anxiety
It makes sense for the body to conduct reactions this way; if the body were to expend all its energy in digestion or immune system reactions, there wouldn’t be enough quick bursts of energy to help you run away from danger or defend yourself. For those of us who cannot come down from these anxious feelings causing them to become chronic, it can be too much to control. Normally after a flight or fight response from the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system will take control and bring the body back to a calm level.
As people develop chronic anxiety disorders, they can become dependent on drugs and alcohol to help them bring the body back down to a calm center. Unfortunately with drugs and alcohol, the calm only lasts for a short time. Paradoxically, drugs and alcohol can also bring about heightened levels of anxiety and make these symptoms worse as time goes on. Before we can explain the reason many people with anxiety disorders develop addictions, we should explain the different types of anxiety.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This type of anxiety is healthy and we all experience it, no matter who we are. Again, anxiety is not something that is necessarily always a bad thing. It was inherently a way to survive in the Prehistoric Era.
Acute stress can be a delayed reaction to a recent event that was traumatic for the individual. On average, response time is between a few days to a month. The effects of this anxiety can become recurring.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsession with repetitive ‘checking’ is the crux of this anxiety disorder. It’s normal to check your alarm to make sure you’ve set it, but checking it every five minutes until you’re supposed to awaken is not. This obsession with counting and checking can become overwhelming if left untreated.
Many types of anxiety have warning signs and symptoms a person can discern before an attack takes place. With panic disorders, anxiety can happen without any prior warning and be disproportionate to the present situation. Panic disorder creates intense fear and panic in an instant. Those with this type of anxiety live in fear and cannot function properly, worrying constantly that an attack will hit them at any given moment.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a late onset anxiety of intense danger after a traumatic experience. This type of mental stress can lead to nightmares, fear and mistrust of others, isolation, and other serious issues that disrupt healthy living.
Addiction and Anxiety Therapy at The Villa Treatment Center
Treatment for anxiety disorders and co-occurring addictions can be conducted in an assortment of ways, but we at The Villa Treatment Center focus on individual counseling. Through individual counseling the therapist can help an individual work through the anxiety of their previous trauma that led to dependency on drugs and alcohol.
The therapist can help provide those ridden with fears of recurring anxiety a set of alternative activities to counter these feelings of substance dependency and to understand where they come from. Individual counseling in this case is through cognitive behavioral therapy that becomes very interactive inside and outside of therapy sessions. There are a set of rules and alternative reactions put into place, alongside the changing of harmful thought processes.
Anxiety is a hijacking of the mind and misinterpretation of fear. Learning to recognize feelings of anxiety and how they affect us is the first step in rehabilitation. Once we understand that we are actively experiencing an anxiety attack of some kind, we must take control of our thoughts and bring our mind back to a relaxed state. Learning to rely on alternative ways of thinking and not on our addiction is the way we get through anxiety and recover from substance dependence. In addition to individual therapy, treatment can be supplemented by antidepressants or other medications when anxiety disorders are advanced. We will recommend a psychiatrist to prescribe medication if needed outside of our facility and help the individual to manage it in a healthy and helpful way.
If you or anyone you know suffers from anxiety and abuses alcohol or drugs to overcome these issues, please call The Villa Treatment Center to discuss your treatment options. We understand this is a difficult time and you need support for recovery.