What Is Anxiety?
As a fear-based emotion, anxiety is a continuous feeling of being in danger. This appears in sufferers as worry and nervousness that interferes with their ability to be social, go to work or complete tasks. This often leaves those with anxiety feeling alone, scared, and terrible about themselves. These effects can also lead to or be identified with depression.
What Are the Symptoms Of Anxiety?
In addition to knowing what anxiety is, part of our philosophy is giving you the information you need for a full recovery. It’s important to understand the symptoms of anxiety. Let’s look at three conditions or events related to anxiety; the feeling of anxiety, panic or anxiety attacks, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Anxiety, in general, can result in concentration problems, dizziness, sweating, difficulty speaking, difficulty sleeping, lightheadedness, shallow breathing, jumpiness, chills and feeling shaky.
Panic attacks, also known as anxiety attacks, are when anxiety has reached such a level that the body takes extreme measures against perceived danger. Panic or anxiety attacks are frightening events that are characterized by rushed or difficulty breathing, extreme fear, feeling like one is having a heart attack as well as a general sense of impending doom.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, is diagnosed when, over the course of six months, a person finds it hard to control a sense of worry more days than not in a way that greatly impacts their life. Generalized anxiety disorder is linked to fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and muscle tension.
What Is the Science Behind the Symptoms Of Anxiety?
In the human brain, anxiety is understood to be generated in a collection of bean-shaped clusters called the amygdala. When you see, hear, or otherwise deal with something that you have found dangerous before or have been taught to find dangerous, the amygdala gives the “go-ahead” to let out chemicals responsible for the extremely heightened awareness and alertness we need to survive. These chemicals include adrenaline and cortisol.
Anxiety, however, is more than just a “fight-or-flight” reaction. Anxiety is an activation of fight-or-flight with a level of intensity that doesn’t fully fit the situation. Our anger or fear may be more quickly activated and may last longer than what would really make sense given the context. Feeling fearful in an uncontrolled way only makes the chemical secretions worse, resulting in the fear of fear which is one of the signatures of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD.
We understand as well that these anxious responses may have been learned because of differences that weren’t celebrated. At Olympia however, we celebrate your diversity every day in our substance abuse treatment programs.
How Does Anxiety Relate To Addiction?
At Olympia House, we strive to share our knowledge as health practitioners with you to provide individualized treatment. If you suffer from anxiety, we know it can impact you in many ways, two of which are self-medication and interfering with treatment for addiction.
Self-medicating the symptoms of anxiety
Many substances have a dampening effect on the nervous system. These include opioids and alcohol. When one has an untreated or undiagnosed anxiety disorder, or if this individual is not receiving a medication that works for anxiety, those with addiction may have turned to street drugs or other substances to get the help they need. Unfortunately, in addition to being unsafe, these substances create more anxiety when they aren’t immediately available or when the brain grows used to the effects and needs more than can be safely ingested. In addition, the worry about hiding illegal substances or hiding addictions from a loved one only means that one needs even more of the substance. All of this creates a cycle of anxiety, depression, and addiction that we understand will require community and professional help to end.
Concerns you may have about anxiety in the context of treatment
Anxiety can also interfere with treatment. Group therapy can be extremely hard for those with social anxiety. Individual therapy can be hard for the same reasons. Leaving your room and going out can be a challenge when you or a loved one dreads possible reminders that stress them out. Finally, even communicating how you’re truly feeling or how medications are really working can interfere with treatment. At Olympia House, we understand your challenges. We want to emphasize that we will not punish you or make you feel like you are not trying when you have bad days. We know that patience, understanding, a gentle approach, the right medication, and a knowledge that you can take the time you need are the essential keys to caring for those with anxiety.
How Olympia House Aims To Alleviate Symptoms Of Anxiety
Olympia House understands the specific challenges of anxiety. We know recovery is biological, social, psychological and spiritual. We would like to offer you these science-backed activities designed to treat anxiety on your way to recovery.
- CBT, where we consciously train ourselves to ask if the flood of anxious chemicals we experience give real information or not, and if not, learn to calm them
- Exercise in nature at our beautiful facility which is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety
- Yoga and meditation
- The correct medication-assisted therapy to help you with your symptoms
- Inpatient and intensive outpatient programs