Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder- Social Phobia
Alcohol Use and Social Phobia
Anxiety & Addiction
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the development of a pervasive sense of unease, excessive worry and apprehensive expectation occurring more days than not for at least 6 months. It is not specific to one area but for a number of areas in your life. It is difficult to control the worry. The worry takes on a physical aspect: feeling restless or on edge all the time, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension or fatigue, and sleep problems. The worry has become such a proment area of distress in your life that it has effected or dominated multiple areas such as your family life or career success.
Recurring panic attacks--an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes. Physical signs of panic attacks are pounding heart, sweating, shaking, shortness or breath, chest pain, sensations of choking, numbness, feelings of unreality, fear of "going crazy" or fear of dying.
People with social phobia have intense feelings of fear or terror when encountering social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. The fear of social exposure is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the event or setting. This is a persistent fear that lasts longer than 6 months, and creates distress and problems functioning in everyday life. The distress can include panic attacks, and many of the same physical effects of panic such as shortness of breath and chest pain.
There is a strong correlation between social anxiety and alcohol use and abuse. As many as 2-13% of Americans suffer from social phobia. 7% of Americans would be 15 million people. So many people suffering from intense fear of being judged adversely by others that they use poor coping skills to survive. One is to isolate oneself, another is to miss good opportunities to network, go on job interviews, do public speaking. Worse yet, is there is a very strong connection between alcohol abuse and social phobia. Professionals have theorized that it is an attempt to reduct tension, or to self medicate. Unfortunately there are many social phobics who have found themselves to also be alcoholics. There are much better ways to address social phobia in therapy!
The Ability to T H R I V E is within you!
For someone who is chronically anxious it is easy to seek out the quickest means to get relief. For instance someone who has social phobia is overwhelmed with anxiety and even panic just prior to a social interaction soon learns that having a drink calms them enough to not panic in a job interview. This leads to a pattern of psychological dependence at first. The anxious person believes they must have a drink to go to work, or go to a meeting. Obviously it's not a good idea to go to work impaired by alcohol. But for this person it seems to work for them. A physical shift comes overtime. The body develops tolerance--that is the person must drink more to get the same effect as before. Now you not only have a psychological dependence but also physical dependence. This not only occurs with drinking but also by using pain relievers and other substances to reduce anxiety. The anxious person has a serious physical dependance that needs medical intervention to stop. Ironically during the withdrawal phase of addiction their anxiety increases.
The problem is that, in this example, the anxious person has acted as his or her own medical doctor prescribing themselves addictive substances to cope with anxiety and change their brain in a negative way (the brain receptors now demand the addictive substance'. They avoided a doctor at first, but ultimately will need a doctor to help them recover and create a different plan.
In recovery you will discover a different path to heal the brain. In part the brain learns by repeated behavior and chemical messages. An anxious person may have already had more activation in the emotion center of the brain that most people, but the addictive substances have also added to the anxiety levels. It has an additive effect--I try to quit drinking--It increases my anxiety--I only get relief by drinking--thereby reinforcing the drinking behavior and brain tolerance to alcohol.
The nature of the brain is that neural pathways can be reduced and replaced with new, healthier neural pathways. The brains adaptation to addiction, both psychologically and the physical effects, can be greatly reduced through appropriate treatment.
SPECT scans of brains clearly illustrate that the brain has adverse effects from abusing and addiction to alcohol and pain killers.
Thrive Clinical Counseling addresses these problems in ways that help you reverse the density in the anxiety center of the brain and to learn better ways to cope with anxious thoughts and feelings.