The relationship between untreated anxiety and substance use disorders is significant enough for women to become aware of how one may be influencing the other. For instance, a woman living with anxiety may turn to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to minimize or manage the bouts of anxiety, while not aware she’s been slowly developing a substance use disorder. Today, let’s identify seven common anxiety symptoms in women and how they may be connected to a growing substance use problem.
Nausea, heart rate increases, feelings of tiredness, lethargy, or weakness, concentration and focus difficulties, and sense of impending danger, doom, or panic are all part of the anxiety symptoms that appear in women. Different symptoms may show up at different times, and unmanaged anxiety can lead women to substance use as a means of coping with the growing problem. When both the anxiety and substance use become destructive to her family life, career, and relationships, treatment at a facility offering an integrated program for substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders can be a valuable response.
Anxiety can show up differently at different times.
In some moments, anxiety may show up in the form of stomach problems, including nausea, stomach pain, or loss of appetite. In others, you might feel a sense of weakness, lethargy, or exhaustion. It may even be a loss of focus or inability to concentrate.
How do you respond to unpredictable anxiety?
Look at your current strategies, if you have any. What’s worked for you in the past? If turning to coping mechanisms like alcohol or drug use, that’s a sign you may be creating a bigger problem out of your anxiety.
Anxiety can be overwhelming.
It can create a sense of impending doom and panic. You may feel your heart racing, your breathing quickens, you begin to sweat, and you may even tremble. The signs on the inside tell you some danger is ahead, even when there’s no physical confirmation on the outside that your belief is true.
How do you manage feeling overwhelmed?
Again, look at your routine responses. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by anxiety? If your sole aim is to block it by any means necessary, that may be a sign it’s time to find help addressing it with actual strategies from people trained in dealing with anxiety.
Anxiety can create conflict in relationships.
Anxiety can lead you to becoming irritable or short-tempered with family members, friends, and coworkers. In many cases, they may not be aware you’re even experiencing anxiety and your behavior around them leaves them confused or hurt. Repetitive behavior can even lead to the loss of some of those relationships.
How do you handle a conflict created by your anxiety?
A proactive approach is talking to the person and explaining what happened in a way they’ll understand. Ignoring the conflict and seeking an escape from it in the form of drugs or alcohol only worsens the issue. Both your anxiety and any conflict it creates should be seen as real and deserving of your time and attention.
Anxiety can wreck your sleep.
Insomnia and other sleeping issues are signs of anxiety. If you’ve been attempting to manage your anxiety with substances, that could also be contributing to your trouble with falling asleep or staying asleep.
How do you attempt to ensure you get adequate rest?
For some women, sleeping pills become a regular solution, whether the anxiety seems present or not. Others may begin to mix anti-anxiety medication with alcohol before bedtime, thinking that will allow them to stay asleep through the night. They may do so without knowing the adverse effects of mixing anti-anxiety meds and alcohol, which can include dramatic mood swings, memory loss, loss of consciousness, or even death.
Anxiety and an accompanying substance use disorder can be treated simultaneously.
In an integrated, multidisciplinary approach program, a mental health disorder, like anxiety, and a substance use disorder can be treated at the same time. This kind of a program, even offering gender-specific treatment to meet the unique needs of women, can help a patient begin recovery in a safe setting among her peers where she can learn the tools she needs to create a sustainable recovery. For many women, this option is highly effective as it places a strong emphasis on the need for a continuing care program and a strong family support system to help a woman reduce the risk of a relapse as she builds her recovery day by day.
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.