Types of Anxiety and Addiction

Types of Anxiety | Recovery by the Sea

Types of Anxiety and Addiction – Anxiety is a normal reaction that manifests from the brain’s “fight or flight” response mechanism. For example, people may feel anxious in hazardous situations or before making important decisions. But for some, anxiety is not just a temporary worry – it tends to be pervasive and may increase in intensity over time. As a result, symptoms begin to interfere with daily activities and responsibilities such as school, work, and relationships.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobia-related disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Types of Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), is a disorder marked by chronic anxiety and excessive worry and stress, even when there is little to aggravate it.

People with GAD exhibit undue anxiety or distress on a near-daily basis for at least 6 months. These worries can be regarding any number of issues, such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday regular life circumstances. And indeed, this anxiety can, in turn, cause notable problems in many of these same areas of life.

GAD symptoms may include the following:

  • Feeling on edge and irritable
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having sleep disturbances
  • Having difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Feeling muscle tension and restlessness
  • Difficulty controlling anxious feeling

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Types of Anxiety | Recovery by the Sea

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder characterized by chronic, uncontrollable and unwanted thoughts and obsessions as well as compulsive, repetitive behaviors.

These may include hand-washing, cleaning, counting, and the strict performance of routines in an effort to inhibit these thoughts.

However, these feelings are offered only temporary relief through the practice of these rituals, and yet, not performing them exacerbates anxiety. Moreover, a person with OCD receives little or no pleasure from performing the behaviors or routines but may feel short-term relief from the anxiety caused by the intrusive thoughts.

Common obsessive and compulsive symptoms of OCD include the following:

  • Fear of germs or contamination, resulting in excessive cleaning or hand-washing
  • Unwanted nor taboo thoughts and feelings involving sex, religion, or harm
  • Aggressive thoughts toward self or others
  • Having things placed symmetrically or in a perfect order, arranging things in a precise way
  • Repeated checking on things, such as repeatedly reassuring oneself that the door is locked or that the oven is turned off
  • Compulsive counting

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder can be a very debilitating anxiety disorder and is marked by sudden recurrent episodes of intense dread and feelings of impending doom or lack of control. These feelings are accompanied by physical symptoms that exhibit death-like terror, including racing heart/palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, sweating, trembling or shaking.

Attacks can be purely spontaneous but are often triggered by some specific fear of a situation, person, or thing, such as flying in a plane during turbulence.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that may manifest after a person has experienced a shocking or terrifying event in which physical harm transpired or was threatened in some way. Such events include, but are not limited to physical or sexual assault, natural disasters, and military combat.

While feeling anxiety or fear during and after a traumatic event is normal and meant to protect us from harm, people who continue to experience problems associated with these feelings long-term may become anxious or frightened during non-threatening situations and subsequently be diagnosed with PTSD.

PTSD Signs and Symptoms

Not every person who is exposed to trauma suffers from PTSD, and not everyone with PTSD has been exposed to a life-threatening event. For example, some people can develop PTSD after the death of a loved one.

Symptoms usually begin within three months of the event, but sometimes can begin years later. In any case, Symptoms must continue for more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work

To be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must exhibit all of the following for at least one month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom such as a flashback or bad dream
  • At least one avoidance symptom, such as staying away from places or events that
  • remind one of the experience
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, such as being easily startled or having angry outbursts
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms, such as having negative thoughts about oneself or the world, or having feelings like guilt, shame or blame

Phobia-Related Disorders

Types of Anxiety | Recovery by the Sea

A phobia is an intense fear of a certain object (e.g., needles or blood) or living thing (e.g. spider) or situation (e.g., flying or being in a high place.) Anxiety is often normal in some of these circumstances, but people with phobias experience fear out of proportion to the true danger potential of the situation.

People with a phobia may exhibit the following signs:

  • Having an irrational or unrealistic worry about exposure to the object or situation they fear
  • Taking action to avoid the object or situation
  • Experience sudden and intense anxiety when encountering the object or situation
  • Enduring unavoidable objects or situations while suffering from intense anxiety and fear

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, have an intense fear of social situations or circumstances in which they have to perform or speak in front of others. They worry that behaviors associated with their anxiety will be adversely judged by others and that they will feel humiliated.

This worry can cause persons with SAD to avoid many social situations, including school, work, and gatherings. People with SAD can also experience agoraphobia, a condition which in extreme cases can result in a person being confined to his or her home.

Separation anxiety disorder is characterized by a fear of being apart from people to whom one is attached. This is more common in children but adults may also experience it. The person worries that harm or another attachment-threatening event will occur when their attachment figure is away, and this fear leads them to avoid being separated from the parent or other person.

Types of Anxiety and Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance use disorders (SUDs) occur significantly more often in patients with anxiety disorders than among those in the general population. Specifically, social anxiety disorder has been strongly associated with alcoholism and PTSD has been linked to both alcohol and drug abuse.

Types of Anxiety | Recovery by the SeaAnxiety disorders when left untreated often leads people to experiment with psychoactive substances as a means to self-medicate.

Symptoms caused by these substances, such as depression, irritability, and general malaise often exacerbate anxiety disorder and thus, help perpetuate a cycle of substance abuse and mental illness.

Addiction does not usually exist in a vacuum – moreover, it usually co-exists with another mental health condition such as anxiety. For these reasons, a co-occurring mental illness must be treated in conjunction with substance abuse, and not as a separate entity.

Both anxiety disorders and substance abuse can be treated through participation in a long-term, comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment program. This program includes behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, and ancillary services such as yoga and music and art therapy.

Treatment is offered both as residential (inpatient) and intensive outpatient formats. Inpatients benefit from around-the-clock medical supervision and emotional support, while outpatients can take advantage of increased flexibility to attend to personal responsibilities such as work and family.

Recovery from mental illness and addiction is a lifelong process, but it can begin now with our help.

Anorexia Symptoms and Addiction

Anorexia Symptoms | Recovery in Tune

Anorexia Symptoms and Addiction – Anorexia nervosa, or just anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by chronic low weight, a desire to be thinner, a fear of gaining weight, and an aversion to food. Furthermore, many people living with anorexia perceive themselves as fat even when they are extremely thin. Anorexia nervosa boasts the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric diagnosis.

Warning signs of anorexia may be difficult to spot because individuals living with anorexia often invest great effort to conceal their thinness, harmful eating habits, and physical problems in general. Because of this, anorexia often flies under the radar until serious medical intervention is necessary.

There are numerous warning signs that may indicate someone is suffering from anorexia nervosa. They include:

  • Sudden, severe weight loss
  • Skipping meals, fasting, or avoiding meals by making excuses
  • Lying about eating, the amount of food eaten or weight loss incurred
  • Adopting a severely restricted diet of a few low fat, low calorie “safe” foods
  • Emergence of eating rituals such as chopping food into small pieces or chewing food excessively then spitting it out
  • Preparing fancy meals for others then refusing to eat
  • Obsessive weight monitoring
  • Frequent scanning for bodily flaws in a mirror
  • Distorted perceptions of body image (criticizing their self for being fat even while underweight)
  • Eating only in secret, never publicly or in the company of others
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothes to mask thinning stature
  • Menstrual cessation or irregularity
  • Exercising excessively to cut more weight
  • Preoccupation with diet that interrupts everyday activity
  • Fatigue from malnourishment

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia symptoms can be divided into three categories: mental, behavioral and physical. No single person will exhibit all possible symptoms of anorexia at once. Still, if you recognize at least a few of the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one, you should seek help to avoid serious complications.

Mental Anorexia Symptoms

Anorexia Symptoms | Recovery in TuneAnorexia is a mental health disorder – the main mental symptoms of anorexia involve negative self-image, deep fear of weight gain, and abstinence from eating. Eating disorders like anorexia generally cause the sufferer to think constantly about food, sacrificing many hours contemplating their next meal.

Lacking vital nutrients may cause the individual to become emotionally volatile and fragile. An individual living with anorexia may have intense bouts of shame, sadness, irritability, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Additionally, the self-destructive behaviors characteristic of anorexia are permitted and encouraged by the psychological rationalizations that underpin them. As such, loved ones may find it difficult to convince the person struggling with the condition that they need to accept help.

Behavioral Anorexia Symptoms

Anorexia nervosa usually manifests a multitude of behaviors considered abnormal and unhealthy. Refusing to partake in meals is a common behavior that corresponds to a fear of gaining weight. Likewise, to reduce weight, a person living with anorexia may exercise compulsively, only stopping when exhausted.

It isn’t uncommon for a person living with anorexia to amass a small stockpile of diet pills and herbal supplements conducive to weight loss. Abuse of such substances carries with it secondary risks of addiction, as well as the danger of overdose, given the substance. Moreover, when a meal is unavoidable, a person with anorexia may engage in a “purge,” regurgitating food or consuming laxatives to prevent weight gain.

Physical Anorexia Symptoms

As the mental and behavioral symptoms associated with anorexia take their toll on the body and thus produce a host of physical symptoms in their wake, all of which cyclically reinforce one another. These physical symptoms typically worsen as the eating disorder progresses but pose significant threats at any stage nonetheless.

Physical symptoms of anorexia include the following:

  • Emaciation (being abnormally thin)
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Bluing of fingers due to malnutrition
  • Feeling cold
  • Dry skin
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
  • Brittle hair and nails, thinning or loss of hair
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Lanugo (areas of soft, downy hair caused by malnutrition)
  • Menstrual cessation or irregularity
  • Constipation
  • Infertility
  • Cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat)
  • Heart damage
  • Osteoporosis

Anorexia, Addiction, and Treatment

Anorexia Symptoms | Recovery in TuneDrug and alcohol abuse commonly co-exist alongside eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. In addition to self-medicating for negative thoughts and feelings, some drugs and alcohol offer other “benefits” that may appeal to those with these conditions.

For example, drugs such as amphetamines suppress appetite, and regular use can quickly result in weight loss. Also because anorexia is a compulsive disorder based primarily on fear, anxiety, and control, substances that can reduce anxiety, such as benzodiazepines and alcohol may be enticing to some.

In a groundbreaking study, researchers discovered that those who experienced eating disorders were as much as five times as likely to misuse alcohol and drugs when compared to others. Also, more than one-third of those who abused drugs or alcohol also suffered from eating disorders, compared to 3% of the general population.

Eating disorders and drug abuse and two overlapping mental health conditions that can only be effectively treated simultaneously. Treating addiction alone does not solve the underlying problems that drive the eating disorder, and vice versa.

Fortunately, our center is equipped to treat all forms of mental illness, including anorexia, in addition to substance abuse. We offer both inpatient and intensive outpatient formats, which include behavioral therapies, individual and group therapy, family counseling, nutritional support,12-step meeting participation, and ancillary services such as yoga, medication, and art therapy.

What is Psychosis and Drug-Induced Psychosis?

Drug-Induced Psychosis | Recovery by the Sea

Psychosis refers to a cluster of psychological symptoms impacting an individual’s perceptions and thoughts about reality. Psychosis is an abnormal mental condition characterized by a severely altered state of consciousness. Most often, psychosis occurs after late adolescence, though it can occur at any age.

Three out of every 100 people will undergo at least one psychotic episode within their lifetime. Unlike many other mental conditions, there is no empirical test to diagnose psychosis directly. Therefore, a diagnosis of psychosis requires patient observation and analysis by a health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Psychosis is not itself a disorder, but a cluster of symptoms from some given cause. Because of this, psychosis is often associated with some other disorder or condition, such as the following:

  • Severe major depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Childhood trauma
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Acute toxicity
  • Drug abuse and withdrawal

Curiously enough, psychotic episodes can have ordinary causes, such as sleep deprivation, hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations, and bereavement following the death of a loved one.

Psychosis Warning Signs and Symptoms

Some early warning signs prior to a first psychotic episode include the following:

  • Decreased performance at school or work
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suspiciousness of others
  • Obsessive behavior
  • A decline in personal hygiene or self-care
  • Increased aloneness or solitude
  • Intense, unprovoked emotions
  • Emotional inconsistency
  • Lack of emotions altogether

During the first episode, a person may experience a flurry of ideas or beliefs regarding their self or the world around them that seem abnormally unshakable or chaotic. For this reason, the experience of psychosis may be difficult to express to others, and understanding others can also be challenging.

Drug-Induced Psychosis | Recovery by the Sea

Moreover, a person may hear sounds or voices that other people cannot or see objects, beings or odd visual distortions that aren’t really there. A person experiencing psychosis may also sense that their body or thoughts are being controlled by someone else, and behaviors that seem strange both to oneself and others are common. The first episode of psychosis can be incredibly frightening, particularly when it manifests as a hallucination.

Symptoms of psychosis include the following:

  • Depressed mood
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping too much
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Social withdrawal
  • Diminished emotional expression
  • Decreased motivation
  • Poverty of speech
  • Disorganized thought, speech patterns, or motor behavior
  • Obsessive behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Unconventional beliefs
  • Catatonia
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Psychotic symptoms can be immediate and temporary, or they can have a long-term onset and be seemingly intractable. Furthermore, an individual may experience only one brief psychotic episode with no further complications, while others may experience many short- or long-lived episodes with different degrees of intensity. Because of the irregularity of psychosis, treatment options vary greatly and depend on the established cause of psychotic symptoms.

What Causes Psychosis?

Psychosis has multiple causes. Traumatic events often either trigger psychosis or predispose a person to experience it later on. Genetics also plays a role, with research suggesting that having a relative diagnosed with a psychotic disorder indicates an increased likelihood of experiencing psychotic symptoms. For individuals with a history of psychosis, exposure to stress appears to be a significant precipitating factor in further episodes.

Psychosis can likewise be caused by sources as varied as extreme lack of sleep to untreated spider or snake bites. Other medical illnesses such as encephalopathy or head injury can produce psychotic symptoms as well. The use of a psychoactive substance can also trigger a  psychotic episode.

Drug-Induced Psychosis

Drug-Induced Psychosis | Recovery by the Sea

Drug-induced psychosis (also referred to as substance-induced psychotic disorder) can include any psychotic episode that is associated with the abuse of an intoxicant.

This event can occur after taking too much of a certain substance, experiencing an adverse reaction from the combination of drugs and alcohol, or during withdrawal from a substance. Psychosis may also manifest partially as a result of an underlying health condition, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Moreover, taking a drug or drugs is unlikely to be the catalyst for a serious mental illness in the absence of a psychiatric disorder, but the use of a substance might be a trigger for someone who is predisposed to psychotic episodes, such as those sometimes associated with bipolar disorder.

Substance Abuse and Drug-Induced Psychosis

Psychosis can develop by the misuse of prescription medications. Rarely, however, people sensitive to certain psychoactive substances may suffer from psychosis as a side effect of regular prescription drug doses.

Prescription medications known to include possible psychotic side effects include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihypertensive medications
  • Analgesics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antiparkinson medications
  • Cardiovascular medications
  • Chemotherapy agents
  • Corticosteroids
  • Muscle relaxants

Illicit Drugs

Hallucinogens such as LSD, DMT, and psychotropic mushrooms can contribute to psychotic-like symptoms, such as delusions or paranoia, in addition to visual and auditory hallucinations. This effect is not the same as true psychosis, however.

Drug-Induced Psychosis | Recovery by the Sea

The use of other illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, can also cause similar illusionary and perceptual symptoms when used excessively for a significant period of time.

But the true essence of psychosis is evidence that a mental “break” has occurred.

Moreover, when the person experiencing the strange effects is no longer aware that the hallucinations and perceptions are not real. This is the hallmark of a very serious condition that puts both the person suffering and others around him or her in danger.

LSD, DMT, and psychotropic mushrooms can, in some instances, cause a psychotic break, especially if overused. Alcoholism can also cause psychosis, but it usually takes long periods, even years for this to occur. It is typically the result of alcohol’s damaging effects on the brain and a lack of thiamine (B1) in the body, which can result in a condition known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

An extreme form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome called delirium tremens can also cause psychosis, as well as confusion, delirium, seizures, and hallucinations. Delirium tremens is a life-threatening medical emergency.

Psychosis can also follow withdrawal from the long-term use of a psychoactive substance, including amphetamines, cocaine, opioids, and even inhalants. Among methamphetamine users, psychosis can spontaneously appear in people who have been clean for several years.

Treatment for Psychosis and Addiction

Psychosis is a symptom of an underlying mental health condition (whether drugs are present or not) but is often temporary and may last for only a few hours. Despite its transient nature, drug-induced psychosis is a medical emergency, and a person experiencing this state may attempt to harm themselves or others.

The first step in the treatment of drug-induced psychosis is to ensure the patient stops taking the substance or is treated for withdrawals if the removal of the substance appears to be causing the psychosis.

But helping someone enable sobriety in the face of addiction, however, isn’t always that easy. Sometimes family and friends have to intervene, as well as emergency medical responders and addiction specialists.

Patients who are experiencing drug-induced psychosis often must undergo a medical detox in either a hospital or recovery center. During this process, the patient is supervised by medical professionals around-the-clock for several days and is administered medication to ease withdrawals in addition to the symptoms of psychosis and other mental health conditions.

After detox, patients should participate in a complete rehab program, either in an inpatient (residential) or intensive outpatient format. Both tracks involve therapy, counseling, and support groups to help patients learn the skills needed to maintain long-term sobriety and wellness.

After rehab, former patients (alumni) can benefit from aftercare planning services, which help them connect with resources such as psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and other mental health professionals for ongoing recovery support and the treatment of a co-existing mental health condition if present.

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