Anxiety is a natural emotion designed to warn us and keep us safe or prepare us to take action. However, when anxiety becomes persistent and seemingly uncontrollable it becomes overwhelming. Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults.
An estimated 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment even though the disorder is highly treatable. People being treated for anxiety is up 400% in the U.S. from 1988.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder also referred to as GAD, experience exaggerated worry and tension. They often expect the worst in any situation even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for 6 months or more. People suffering from GAD don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and feel it is beyond their control, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants.
Anxiety & Self Medicating
Many people who become addicted to alcohol or drugs are experiencing undiagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Not aware that they are suffering with a challenging disorder, they drink alcohol and use drugs in an effort to ease their anxiety. If the use of alcohol or drugs becomes an addiction they will sometimes seek treatment. While in treatment the disorder will be identified providing it is a dual diagnosis treatment program such as Balboa Horizons.
Who Gets GAD?
GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected.
From the time a girl reaches puberty until about the age of 50, she is twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as a man. Anxiety disorders also occur earlier in women than in men. Women are also more likely to have multiple psychiatric disorders during their lifetime than men. The most common to co-occur with anxiety is depression.
Differences in brain chemistry may account for at least part of these differences. The brain system involved in the fight-or-flight response is activated more readily in women and stays activated longer than men, partly as a result of the action of estrogen and progesterone.
The neurotransmitter serotonin may also play a role in responsiveness to stress and anxiety. Some evidence suggests that the female brain does not process serotonin as quickly as the male brain. Recent research has found that women are more sensitive to low levels of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a hormone that organizes stress responses in mammals, making them twice as vulnerable as men to stress-related disorders.
Research shows that GAD often coexists with depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders. Patients with physical symptoms, such as insomnia or headaches, should also tell their doctors about their feelings of worry and tension. This will help the patient’s health care provider to recognize that the person is suffering from GAD.
Treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Treatments for GAD include medications and behavioral or cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is important to make the medical professional aware of an existing alcohol or drug addiction when being prescribed medication for GAD. To effectively treat an individual suffering with a dual diagnosis such as GAD combined with substance abuse, please contact Balboa Horizons today–we are here for you. 1(866)316-4012