Anxiety is defined as people feeling emotions based on fear, nervousness, worried thoughts, and physical changes when experiencing stress. An individual will often feel fear about what will happen and uncertainty of the unknown. When you have a feeling of anxiety, it creates physical side effects that can be debilitating, such as excessive sweating, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and trembling.
Every person will experience occasional anxiety, which is your body’s way of alerting you to potential danger or harm. This process provides individuals with a heightened sense of awareness that can help to increase their ability to perform or behave or know when to be cautious or mindful of a situation or person. When feelings of anxiety persist further than occasional anxiety, it can create significant challenges within your life and day-to-day functioning, including leading to drug or alcohol addiction.
Anxiety vs. Depression
Anxiety and depression are two separate mental health conditions that affect individuals differently. Depression is characterized by a low mood and emotional state that can last for a prolonged period. Depression exhibits itself in a spectrum of side effects and emotions ranging from low energy or lack of motivation to suicidal ideation and thoughts.
While both mental health conditions have separate side effects, it is common for both of these disorders to co-occur with one another. Many individuals living with depression will experience bouts of anxiety due to their low mood and decreased emotional state and regulation.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
The various kinds of anxiety disorders include:
Social anxiety disorder
Also known as social phobia. This anxiety disorder is characterized by an intense fear of being around or having to interact with other people. This fear and anxiety are often heightened by socializing with other people they do not know well for fear of what they will think of them or if they will judge them.
Generalized anxiety disorder
This condition is a long-term disorder characterized by anxiety within or about many situations. Individuals will generate worry and fear from many situations and often transfer from one fear to another.
How Alcohol Affects Anxiety in the Short Term
Alcohol abuse will create a feeling of false confidence within someone living with an anxiety disorder allowing people to feel confident in social situations and reduce their worry. However, this feeling is short-lived, and alcohol creates further issues when it comes to anxiety as alcohol changes the brain chemistry and balances, creating more problems with your anxiety disorder the longer you engage in alcohol abuse.
Learn more about the common characteristics of adult children of alcoholics here:
How Alcohol Affects Anxiety in the Long Term
Turning to alcohol as a self-medicating method is dangerous for relieving your anxiety symptoms as it opens the doors to the possibility of developing alcohol addiction. The longer you engage in alcohol use as a way to self-medicate, the more that your body becomes reliant on alcohol to function throughout the day normally, and you will increasingly feel anxious after drinking. As your alcohol consumption progresses and your physical tolerance increases, you will need to consume more significant amounts of alcohol to reach the same desired effect, which will worsen your alcohol addiction further.
Anxiety As a Symptom of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal has been known to produce feelings of anxiety in its users. When you are using alcohol as a method of self-medication, and the effects of alcohol begin to wear off, individuals will start to feel the same presenting concerns before engaging in alcohol use. In most cases, if you have already felt the effects of generalized anxiety disorder, once you experience an alcohol hangover, your anxiety symptoms will worsen significantly. For those who live with social anxiety, after drinking alcohol, many will feel increased worry and anxiety about their actions while under the influence, especially if they have experienced a blackout. These fears can significantly impact your social anxiety is fear of seeing those people again and what their thoughts of you will be will take over.
The Vicious Cycle of Alcohol and Anxiety
Turning to alcohol to mitigate and lessen the severity of your anxiety disorder often creates the opposite effect that individuals are looking for by leading you into a vicious cycle of alcohol abuse and feeling of anxiety. The process will typically occur like this:
- First, you consume alcohol.
- In the beginning, after drinking alcohol, you will feel a sense of relief and calm as alcohol affects your brain.
- After you stop drinking alcohol and alcohol withdrawal sets in, you will feel anxiety as a symptom of your alcohol detox.
- Once you begin to feel anxiety again, you will want to drink alcohol again to relieve the feelings of stress you are feeling.
Treatment for Anxiety and Alcohol Abuse at WhiteSands
An effective treatment program for individuals living with an active alcohol addiction and ongoing anxiety disorder is a dual diagnosis treatment program. WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab offers patients an opportunity to address their mental health and alcohol addiction individually while also looking at how each issue impacts one another. Our compassionate counselors will utilize the best in alcohol addiction and behavioral therapy to support patients in overcoming potential triggers through the development of tools for relapse prevention and emotional regulation. Patients are provided with holistic treatments that focus on treating their anxiety symptoms through natural healing methods, including behavioral therapy and modification, to ensure they live a life of sober living that is happy and fulfilling. Contact WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today to hear more about the specialized treatment for alcohol addiction and mental health that will support you in reaching your overarching goals of attaining sobriety and living a balanced life.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.