Anxiety is something that most people experience before something significant occurs in their life – this could be sitting a test or making a public speech. Occasional anxiety is not such a big deal, and it can even motivate people to do a good job. For other people this anxiety becomes a far more destructive force in their life, and it can be made worse by alcohol. In some instances the symptoms of anxiety will be what drove the individual to alcohol abuse in the first place, but it is also possible for the individual to develop anxiety problems as a result of their alcohol intake.
Anxiety can be defined as a displeasing feeling of fear and concern. It can also be described as a state of uneasiness and apprehension about future uncertainties. It is normal for people to experience a bit of anxiety from time to time but for some people such feelings can cause a disruption in their life.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) refers to a situation where people are excessively worried about things that could go wrong. It means that the individual becomes overly concerned about everyday events, and things can become so bad that they struggle to cope. People with GAD will always be able to find something to worry about, and this means that they can struggle to find much happiness in life.
Symptoms of Anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety can include:
* Feeling of impending doom
* Feelings of fatigue
* Inability to sleep at night
* Difficulty concentrating
* Making mountains out of molehills – even a minor hiccup can put the individual into a panic.
*Nausea and stomach problems
* The individual may appear to be living on their nerves, and they are easily startled.
* Feeling of tension in muscles.
* The individual always feels a bit restless and finds it difficult to just relax.
* They may be highly irritable and negative about life.
* The need to frequently go to the bathroom.
* When they are anxious their body may tremble.
* They may break out into a sweat when they are anxious.
Some people with GAD may also develop panic disorder. These involve sudden attacks of intense fear that make it impossible for the individual to function. The symptoms of panic disorder can include:
* Feeling of chocking or shortness of breath
* The individual may feel like they are having a heart attack because of chest tightness.
* They can vomit
* The individual may be visibly shaking
* Hot flashes
* People can feel detached from their experience – like they are on the outside looking in.
* Numbness in different parts of the body.
* Everything in their environment can start to appear unreal.
* The individual can become convinced that they are about to die.
* A pounding heart or palpitations.
* The person may believe that they are going insane or that they are losing control.
Alcohol and Anxiety
Anxiety can interfere with the ability of an individual to enjoy life. They can be tempted to turn to alcohol because this may temporarily ease the symptoms of anxiety. Some people become so impressed with the way alcohol eases their anxiety that they begin to consume it more regularly – this is known as self medicating. The fact that it appears to help in the beginning disguises the reality – alcohol is probably the worst solution in the world for anxiety.
People who suffer from anxiety are three times more likely to turn to substance abuse than those who do not have such symptoms. This is worrying because such self medication only makes matters worse in the end. The outcome of self medicating anxiety with alcohol is:
* It isn’t long before regular consumption of alcohol begins to cause problems in the life of the individual. They will respond to this by drinking more to deal with their increased anxiety.
* The more the individual drinks the more their life will deteriorate. They get caught in a vicious cycle of drinking to escape the anxiety and thereby creating more things to feel anxious about.
* The individual eventually becomes physically and mentally dependent on alcohol. They not only have anxiety messing up their life but also an addiction – the individual is said to have developed a dual diagnosis.
Alcohol Induced Anxiety
Those people who never suffered with any issues involving anxiety can develop problems as a result of alcohol abuse. This is because drinking excessively induces the symptoms of anxiety, and it can even trigger panic attacks. This is because of the effects that alcohol has on the body – it is a toxin that can cause havoc to proper physical and mental functioning. Initially alcohol can have a calming effect, but when people abuse it they are likely to find that alcohol becomes the source of their anxiety.
Alcohol Withdrawal Induced Anxiety
The symptoms of anxiety frequently appear when people are withdrawing from the drug they have become addicted to – in this case alcohol. This can occur because the individual is trying to quit or just because they haven’t yet had their first drink of the day. Heavy drinkers will often experience withdrawals as part of their hangover and part of this may be anxiety. The individual may be able to stop the symptoms of anxiety by drinking again, but this is only a temporary reprieve. In order to fully escape alcohol withdrawal induced anxiety the individual will need to give up drinking completely. Once they have made it through the period of withdrawals they should be less bothered by these symptoms.
How to Treat Anxiety
Alcohol is a terrible solution to anxiety problems but luckily there are some more effective treatments such as:
* Those people who are suffering from alcohol induced anxiety or withdrawal induced anxiety are likely to find that these symptoms disappear once they enter recovery.
* There are many medications available that can effectively treat general anxiety disorder. A physician will be able to determine the most appropriate treatment.
* Cognitive behavioral therapy has proved highly effective in the treatment of anxiety. The individual learns to spot the patterns of thinking that are causing their problems and develops strategies for coping better.