Learn About Generalized Anxiety Disorder and How It Can Lead to Addiction
The feeling of anxiety is normal, especially in response to life’s most stressful moments. When this anxiety refuses to fade and begins to impede on an individual’s everyday life, that person may be suffering from more than simple stress. In cases like these, the individual may very well be grappling with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by a consistent, unyielding sense of worry and anxiety. Those afflicted with GAD constantly focus on worst-case scenarios and negative outcome, even when there is little evidence to support these pessimistic conclusions.
The severity of this anxiety goes beyond a bad attitude. The extreme worry and stress associated with generalized anxiety disorder make it difficult for individuals to keep a job or stay connected to friends and family.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 6.8 million adults are currently struggling with generalized anxiety disorder. Dealing with GAD can be challenging, but the right treatment and support can help individuals live a healthier, happier life.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Common symptoms of GAD include persistent worry or small obsessions about life events. What differentiates GAD from normal anxiety is that the degree of concern is disproportionate to the gravity of the event. Those afflicted with GAD find it difficult to let go of worrisome thoughts, regardless of the severity, once they begin thinking about them. This rumination makes it very difficult to relax and equally impossible to concentrate.
Additionally, those dealing with GAD are prone to indecision. Other common symptoms of GAD include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Extreme distress around decision making
- Difficulty letting go of daily worries
- Obsessive worrying about worst-case scenarios
- Difficulty slowing down and relaxing
It is common for individuals to experience bodily fatigue after going through an intense emotional experience. For those afflicted with a generalized anxiety disorder, this fatigue is just one of many debilitating physical symptoms. In fact, individuals with GAD often experience additional health problems due to the immense strain that their obsessive thoughts and worries place on the body.
Common physical symptoms of GAD include:
- Physical fatigue
- Muscle aches
- Unexplained sweating
- Chronic headaches
- Chronic irritability
Risk Factors for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Today, nearly 7 million Americans are battling generalized anxiety disorder. Following years of extensive research, scientists have identified three major risk factors in the development of GAD.
According to Mayo Clinic, major risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Gender: As a general trend, women are more likely to be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder than men.
- Family: Studies have shown that many mental health issues are hereditary. Those with family members who have a generalized anxiety disorder are more likely to develop GAD later in life.
- Temperament: Certain personality traits can make an individual more vulnerable to developing GAD. People who are “worriers” and those who demonstrate antisocial behaviors are more likely to be diagnosed with general anxiety disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Substance Abuse Treatment
Generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse often go hand in hand. Approximately one-third of Americans who suffer from a mental health condition also struggle with substance abuse.
Either disorder can develop first. For example, a person dealing with mental health issues may choose to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Alternatively, individuals may unknowingly abuse a substance that worsens their mental health symptoms, leading to greater anxiety down the road.
In cases like these, an experienced professional is required to help patients manage their co-occurring disorders.
The Treatment Center by The Recovery Village understands there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for GAD and addiction. Our medical team assesses each patient in order to develop a customized treatment plan. Each treatment plan is designed to address personal challenges, improve the mental condition and cease cravings of the former substance of choice.
Our admissions counselors are available 24/7 at (866) 295-6003 if you have more questions about generalized anxiety disorder, substance abuse and treatment for both.