Relationship Between Substance Abuse And Panic Attacks
Substance abuse and panic disorder form a risky comorbidity that requires immediate treatment. Read on to learn more.
Substance Abuse And Panic Attacks
Most people try to alleviate panic attack symptoms by consuming substances that create a sense of calm. However, this sense of stability goes away as soon as the substance’s effects fade. Alcohol panic attacks can quickly return much more potent and worse than before.
Many people start to take more of the substance in order to help with increasing symptoms, but over time, they can develop a tolerance to the substances that quickly leads to addiction. This may lead to substance-induced panic attacks or drug-induced anxiety and panic disorder.1
There are many symptoms and disorders that may cause panic attacks, including:
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Alcohol is a stimulant and a depressant that speeds up the functioning of your brain. Drinking too much alcohol can cause uncontrollable feelings or thoughts of death related to panic attacks.2 An alcohol panic attack may last between five to thirty minutes and can be quite scary, although they aren’t dangerous and should not harm you. Alcohol affects your brain chemistry because it impacts the GABA neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that cause a relaxing effect. Mild amounts of alcohol stimulate GABA and cause feelings of relaxation.
In contrast, heavy drinking depletes GABA, increasing feelings of panic and tension. Quitting alcohol altogether may lead to withdrawal symptoms in the form of panic attacks and other anxiety symptoms.3
Cocaine or Methamphetamine Abuse
Many people believe that marijuana is harmless. However, it can cause mental health conditions, including panic and anxiety attacks. Though panic attacks don’t affect everyone, long-term use increases the risks of panic disorder symptoms.
Signs Of Panic Attacks
Alcohol can cause panic attacks, and the following are common symptoms of a panic attack setting in:
Causes of Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder
Several factors are associated with panic attacks, including:
Complications That Panic Attacks May Cause
Panic attacks from drugs cause several complications, like:
Impacts Of Substance Abuse On Panic Disorder Symptoms
Using certain substances in the presence of panic disorders is risky because it heightens the effects of those panic disorders. Different substances affect symptoms of panic disorders in the following ways:
Panic Disorder and Alcohol
Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol stimulates the GABA receptors and induces feelings of relaxation. However, heavy drinking depletes GABA, elevating panic attacks and tension.
Panic Disorder and Marijuana
Marijuana has potentially dangerous side effects for people battling panic disorders because it:
Panic Disorder and Stimulants
Stimulants like nicotine, caffeine, ecstasy, and others have damaging effects on individuals with panic disorders. Stimulants increase feelings of anxiety and change how your body mimics panic attacks. Be careful if you take stimulants and already have symptoms of panic disorders.
Treatment For Panic Disorder And Addiction
Treating dual diagnosis is not as simple as treating substance abuse or panic disorder alone. Your doctor has to diagnose you before advising on the best panic disorder recovery plan. These plans can include medically supervised detox, which allows you to safely abstain from substance or alcohol usage under medical supervision.
Medication-Assisted Treatment and Other Options
Lastly, group and family therapy allow you to discuss with others – including your family – what may be going on and learn how to cope with your disorders with support and understanding from others.
Below are some additional tips to alleviate panic and anxiety.
Calm Your Breathing
Breathing exercises boost oxygen intake and carbon dioxide expulsion, leading to a relaxed and calm mind. Take a break when you feel anxious and deeply breathe in and out between time intervals until you feel comfortable.
Relax Your Muscles
When anxious, your muscles are strained and tense, making it challenging to manage your anxiety. Relaxing your muscles will reduce your anxiety levels.
Panic attacks are associated with racing thoughts and rapid heartbeats. Take time and get to a quiet environment and clear your thoughts. Practice meditation and mindfulness to find balance, be calm, and relax.
- https://www.healthquality.va.gov/guidelines/MH/sud/MedicationsFor TheTreatmentOfAlcoholUseDisorderBrochure92816.pdf