It is very common for people to suffer from both a panic disorder and addiction. When these issues occur together, they are very difficult to treat. However, that does not mean that treating them is impossible. The addition of drugs or alcohol can easily make a panic disorder so much worse. Patients who present with both are at a very high risk for medical complications because of their conditions. They're also at a high risk of overdosing if they decide to quit on their own.
For someone who suffers from a panic disorder, they often live their lives in fear. Their attacks can strike at any minute, and they generally occur without warning. According to the National Institute of Mental Health:
of the adult population in the United States suffer from a panic disorder.
of these cases are considered to be severe.
of people with panic disorders are receiving treatment for them.
of these individuals are getting minimally adequate treatment.
This fact alone leaves them very susceptible to having an addiction.
In addition, the ADAA tells us that women are twice as likely to suffer from panic disorders as men. Panic disorders often occur alongside major depression. When this is the case, the comorbidity rate is very high.
About 28% of everyone who suffers from a panic disorder also suffers from addiction too. Clearly, this is a very serious situation that requires a specialized treatment method. Many people don't realize that there are a lot of options available for them for treatment.
However, you know that you've been self-medicating your symptoms with drugs or alcohol. This is much more common that you probably realized.
Here at Northpoint Washington, we specialize in treating these co-occurring disorders. We understand how closely they are related, and we utilize the best treatment methods to help our patients. The fact is that continuing to use drugs or alcohol is only going to make your panic disorder worse. Treating both conditions at the same time is much more likely to result in your recovery. That is what makes dual diagnosis treatment so vital.
The information we've provided you with will help you to understand what panic disorder is. It will also give you insight into the best treatment methods available.
"A panic disorder goes from 0 to 100 in an instant. It's halfway between feeling like you'll faint and feeling like you'll die." Anonymous
The above quote easily explains the way that most people feel when they have a panic attack. It is a debilitating feeling that you feel powerless to escape from. According to WebMD, a panic disorder is a serious condition that can strike without reason or warning. The attacks are classified by feelings of dread and fear. Painful or uncomfortable physical symptoms can accompany them as well.
For someone who has a panic disorder, they live in constant fear of attacks. This results in shaky emotions that can quickly render them unstable. Sometimes the fear of the attacks can even become worse than the attacks themselves.
If you have been suffering from a panic disorder, you may not have even been aware of what they were. So many people allow their conditions to go undiagnosed and untreated. Being able to recognize panic attacks for what they are is the first step in getting the help you need.
Panic attacks are rarely the same each time they take place. They can be, and usually are, very different from each other. They can be brought on by difference circumstances. They can also last different amounts of time, and vary in their intensity.
Like many mental illnesses, bipolar disorder is not a cut-and-dried condition. There are several different types of it. It's important for you to understand which one you may be suffering from. Finding out will help you to understand your situation and why you feel the way you do.
If you're someone who has expected panic attacks, you may be aware of what triggers them. These are caused by known fears that you're completely aware of. You may try to avoid them at all costs to prevent these attacks from occurring.
For example, if you have a fear of spiders (agoraphobia), you may expect a panic attack when you see one. Similarly, someone who is afraid of flying in an airplane may have a panic attack when boarding the plane. These attacks are very predictable, but that doesn't make them any easier to deal with.
Unexpected panic attacks usually occur without warning and without a real reason. When they happen, the individual can even be completely relaxed. Actually, this is the prime time for these attacks. Symptoms can start to develop slowly, or they can happen all at once.
If you suffer from this type of panic disorder, you may try hard to figure out what sets them off. Unfortunately, they don't have any internal cues. People generally don't experience any fearful thoughts prior to them. They also don't have any phobias or fears.
Once someone experiences a panic attack, it is a good indication that they will continue. As the condition progresses, unexpected panic attacks can even occur during a sound sleep at night.
Regardless of what type of panic attacks you're suffering from, you're undoubtedly aware of the issues they cause for you. Panic attacks place great limitations upon you. You begin to worry about future panic attacks. You start to avoid certain objects, places or people because you're afraid of setting one off. Eventually, loneliness and isolation sets in, and you feel helpless to do anything about it.
Quite often, people aren't very familiar with the signs and symptoms of a panic disorder. Maybe you feel the same way. You know something isn't right, but you've never thought of it as a panic disorder that needed treatment.
It can be helpful to know what some of the symptoms of panic disorder are. They include:
Once these symptoms begin, they may come to a peak rapidly. After the attack is over, sufferers may have their symptoms taper off. It's still possible to remain in a very anxious state. This in itself can set off another panic attack, creating a vicious cycle.
Maybe you can relate to many of the symptoms on this list. If so, you may be wondering if what you have is a diagnosable panic disorder. It may be helpful to answer some questions based on your own experiences during attacks.
During your attacks, do you:
Answering yes to more than four of the above questions indicates that you might have a severe panic disorder. If you only answered yes to four or less questions, you may have a less severe case.
Getting treatment for a panic disorder is so important. These are not symptoms that you have to live with for the rest of your life. It is possible to get relief from them.
Obtaining immediate treatment if you feel you have a panic disorder is critical. There are so many different ways that doctors and therapists can utilize to treat this condition. These include:
Not all types of treatment are going to be appropriate for every patient. That's why it's so important to find a therapist who will tailor your treatment to your needs.
Generally, anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressant medications are the two that are frequently used to treat panic attacks. These medications can be very effective when they're taken as prescribed.
Anti-anxiety medications that are used to treat panic attacks include:
Anti-depressants that are used to treat panic attacks include:
Even though so many of these drugs can be useful and effective, they do carry some warnings. If you look at the labels on them, you'll see that there is usually not much listed about addiction. However, it is possible to become addicted to them. Sometimes the addiction can be a psychological one, but that can produce physical symptoms just the same.
It's best to use these medications with caution. Never increase your dosage of them on your own, and take them only as prescribed. When at all possible, strive to only take them for a short period of time.
Researchers are still very unsure about the causes of panic disorder. They are usually caused by a number of different things.
If you do have a panic disorder, you might not be sure what caused it. A professional can help you understand why it happened to you.
Anxiety, panic disorder and addiction are often connected to one another. The question is, why?
For people who suffer from a panic disorder, they often feel desperate to get relief from their symptoms. If they fail to get the right type of treatment, choosing to use substances promises them hope. For a period of time, using substances may even prove to be quite effective.
As time goes on, using drugs or alcohol does tend to lose its effectiveness. In fact, it can actually lead to more anxiety, and more panic attacks. To counteract that, the user may increase how much he or she uses.
As you can see, this creates a terrible cycle that's very difficult to stop. It's also why getting treatment for co-occurring disorders is so important. Dual diagnosis treatment can make such a difference in people with panic disorders.
What Substances are Usually Misused by Someone with Panic Disorder?
For someone who has a panic disorder, the most commonly abused substances are those that have a calming effect. Alcohol is a very common choice, as is marijuana and some types of prescription drugs. Tranquilizers are also frequently used.
Dual diagnosis treatment, or integrative addiction treatment is the best option for treating these co-occurring disorders. Treating them separately is rarely effective, and the relapse rate is much higher. Dual diagnosis treatment ensures that both conditions receive treatment at the same time.
Integrative addiction treatment offers you the best chance for a successful recovery from both conditions.
If you're suffering from panic disorder and addiction, there is help for your co-occurring disorder. When you have both of these conditions, it can almost feel as though you're stuck with them. You don't know how to treat the panic disorder, and substances seem like a viable option. Of course, if you've been using for any period of time, you know that's not true for long.
People with this co-occurring disorder usually find that their panic symptoms start to reappear. That leaves them feeling helpless and hopeless. At Northpoint Washington, that's not how we want you to feel. Our goal is to address both of your conditions through integrative addiction treatment. We've found that by offering dual diagnosis treatment, our patients experience a much greater rate of success. We'd love nothing more than for you to have that success too.