According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 18 percent of American adults suffer from anxiety, making it the most common mental health disorder. If you've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, or have been prone to anxiety and panic attacks in the past, you might be worried about how to deal with the symptoms during recovery. Don't allow your anxiety to get in the way of your sobriety and instead, here are a few ways to deal with your symptoms and stay on track:
Understand the Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder
When you hear the word "anxiety" you might assume that it means suffering from over-the-top panic attacks and the inability to interact with loved ones or even leave the house. However, there are several different forms of anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety. Each of these anxiety disorders features its own unique symptoms, however, there are several symptoms all these disorders have in common, including:
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle aches and pains
- General feeling or uneasiness and dread
- Dry mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Shaking and trembling
These are only a few of the symptoms associated with every anxiety disorder. To deal with these symptoms, many individuals utilize drugs and alcohol or indulge in other risky behaviors to find relief. Additionally, when you begin to step away from drugs and alcohol, many of the symptoms of withdrawal can also mirror the symptoms associated with anxiety, which can make staying sober even more difficult.
Work with Your Doctor
If you are struggling to remain on your path to recovery, the first step needs to be speaking with your doctor. Your doctor can help you create a plan that will allow you to manage your anxiety and its symptoms, without having to resort to abusing drugs and alcohol.
One of the most effective ways to deal with your anxiety symptoms is through doctor prescribed medications. Ask your doctor to prescribe a medication that features a low abuse potential, meaning you aren't likely to become addicted to the drug. Remember that these drugs can take several weeks to become effective, and you may need to alter the dose or try a variety of anti-anxiety medications before you begin to feel relief from your symptoms.
In addition to medication, ask your doctor about the types of therapy that are beneficial for recovering addicts who are also dealing with anxiety. One of the most common types of therapies utilized for anxiety disorders is cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT is a type of talk therapy that will help you react differently to stressful situations by first understanding your triggers and then finding healthy ways to deal with your symptoms.
The therapist will begin by first helping you pinpoint your unique issues and then creating short-term goals to help you live a more meaningful life. CBT allows you to become more aware of your negative thoughts and feelings and helps you understand the root of your addiction and how to deal with any stressors in your life.
In addition to CBT and the other types of therapy available, you may also benefit from group therapy. Working with individuals who are dealing with the same issues of anxiety and substance abuse can help you create a support system that you can rely on when you are tempted to seek solace in drugs and alcohol.
Try At-Home Therapies
In addition to prescription anti-anxiety medications and therapy, there are several other natural ways to deal with your anxiety that will help you remain clean and sober. Meditation and deep breathing exercises are two ways you can deal with your anxiety symptoms in any situation, whether you are at home, in public or at work.
Something as simple as indulging in a safe and healthy distraction, such as watching your favorite comedy, taking a long walk or playing video games, are other ways you can deal with your anxiety on a day-to-day basis.
Finding healthy ways to deal with your anxiety during your recovery is critical. If you are worried you might relapse because you cannot cope with your anxiety, don't hesitate to contact your doctor, therapist or an addiction recovery specialist like Evergreen Recovery Centers for more help.