Can Chronic Anxiety Shorten Your Lifespan?

Anxiety is a major and unfortunately very common disruptor of everyday life. When anxiousness is the result of a real or impending problem, it can trigger necessary actions for mitigating damages and avoiding harm. However, constant feelings of worry can make it difficult to enjoy the people around you and any activity you engage in. If you suffer from chronic anxiety, you probably have a very hard time focusing on anything else aside from the discomfort you feel. Sadly, chronic anxiety does more than affect your life quality. It can also significantly shorten your lifespan. Anxiety that’s experienced all of the time is also a doorway to drug or alcohol addiction. Many people who suffer from chronic anxiety use drugs or alcohol to promote feelings of relief. As a result, their life expectancies and their life qualities decline even further given that these individuals also suffer from the additional affects of substance abuse.

Co-morbidity or co-occurring disorders exist when two or more mental health issues are present at one time. Medically, addiction is classified as substance use disorder. When paired with chronic anxiety or general anxiety disorder, substance use disorder can be far more challenging to treat. That’s because in addition to addressing drug or alcohol addiction itself, the underlying anxiety must be resolved as well. Until this is accomplished, chronically anxious individuals are always in danger of reverting back to their addictive behaviors in an effort to alleviate their emotional pain.

How Chronic Anxiety Can Affect Your Life Quality And Your Lifespan 

Persistent psychological distress has a negative impact on both a person’s mental and physical health. The body responds to perceived distress by producing a powerful chemical called cortisol that supports the “fight or flight” response. Too much cortisol has been shown to negatively impact a person’s heart health, lower his or her immunity levels, and affect concentration among other things. For those living with general anxiety disorder, excess cortisol can be an ongoing problem even when no actual stressors exist.

Like many people who deal with feelings of anxiousness, you may find yourself feeling nervous and uncomfortable despite being safe, housed, clothed, fed, and having all of your other basic needs met. The most overwhelming aspect of general anxiety disorder is often being unable to determine the true source of your emotional discomfort. After all, if there was an identifiable problem to solve, the most obvious way to alleviate your pain would be to solve it. This places people in the dangerous position of experiencing extraordinary pain, but lacking a feasible, reasonable way to relieve it. As a result, many individuals with chronic anxiety ultimately turn to drugs or alcohol.

The Many Drawbacks Of Self-Treating Chronic Anxiety With Drugs Or Alcohol 

Countless people suffer from drug or alcohol addiction as the result of their efforts to alleviate the discomfort of anxiety on their own. Unfortunately, rather than providing relief, substance abuse can exacerbate this condition. This in turn causes people to use more drugs or alcohol over time, in an effort to again find the same feelings of calmness and euphoria that drugs or alcohol once produced. From a chemical standpoint, using drugs or alcohol to self-treat gradually damages the very same biological mechanisms that are meant to naturally alleviate anxiety. In turn, the reliance upon substances is again increased.

After months or even years of self-treating with substances, many people are unsure of whether they are using drugs or alcohol to alleviate their anxiety, or whether their substance abuse is the ultimate cause of their anxiousness. According to medical research, this confusion is well-founded. Moreover, the legal, financial, professional, and social consequences of alcoholism and drug addiction often create conditions that add to a person’s anxiousness. When this is the case, the only consistently effective way to gain relief is to receive simultaneous treatment for both substance abuse and general anxiety disorder.

How Treatment For Comorbidity Can Help 

Treatment for comorbidity or co-occurring disorders sets the stage for lasting sobriety and peace of mind. During drug or alcohol treatment, medical professionals and onsite counselors can explore the possible causes of a person’s chronic anxiety. These can include:

  • Traumatic events in the past
  • Chemical imbalances
  • Unhealthy life habits
  • Unstable or toxic relationships and environments
  • Prolonged drug or alcohol use
  • Recent or extended exposures to stressful circumstances or events

By making treatment of general anxiety disorder a top priority, it’s possible to eliminate one of the biggest triggers for using drugs or alcohol. Treatment for co-occurring disorders can take a medical approach to resolving and preventing anxiety, even as it teaches patients new and healthier strategies for coping with both founded and unfounded stress. If you’ve been struggling with chronic anxiety and have been using drugs or alcohol to alleviate your pain, we can help you find a healthier and far more effective way to improve your life. In fact, with proper treatment, you can live both better and longer. Call us today at 772-266-5320.

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