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 / Therapies / Stress and Anxiety Disorder

Stress and Anxiety Disorder and Addiction

Feeling anxious or stressed about something is normal human behavior, such as attending an interview, facing a large crowd, or having an exam. However, this anxiety helps you focus on dangerous situations and activate fight-and-flight responses to perform better.


Sometimes anxiety takes control of a person’s life, causing various physical symptoms. The continuous feeling of unknown fear and impending doom results in high anxiety throughout the day. These physical symptoms make life miserable, and the person loses interest and focus on regular life, job, and family. The constant stress and anxiety make everyday life hard, and sufferers often panic and overreact to everyday scenarios.


Different kinds of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, panic attacks, specific phobias, etc.

Physical Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety Disorder  

Stress and anxiety disorders cause many challenging physical symptoms that cause an interruption in focusing on daily activities, working a job, and attending gatherings. These symptoms include:

  • Heart palpitations (pounding heart).

  • Hyperventilation (shortness of breath).

  • Fear of the unknown, feeling on edge.

  • Irritability and fatigue.

  • Headaches and muscle pains.

  • Weakness in the hands and legs.

  • Insomnia (difficulty in sleeping or staying asleep).

  • Lack of concentration.

  • Trembling and shaking.

  • Sweating.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome.


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Who Is at Risk of Anxiety Disorders?

Many risk factors are responsible for an individual's stress and anxiety disorder, leading to constant fear and worry. As a result, the person over-thinks every minor situation and gets distracted by any little problem. The risk factors are as follows:

  • Genetic factors (anxiety disorders are more likely to affect those with a history in the family of certain mental illnesses or stress and anxiety disorders).

  • Any trauma in the individual’s life can lead to stress and, eventually chronic anxiety.

  • Some environmental factors include having a hard time in the workplace or issues with family and friends.

  • Certain medical conditions like having a heart problem or being diagnosed with severe disease, having thyroid issues can also cause stress and anxiety.

  • Addiction (drug or alcohol abuse) is also responsible for irrational thinking; chronic stress can cause phobia or anxiety disorder.

Medically Reviewed:


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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Types of Stress and Anxiety Disorders

There are a few significant types of stress and anxiety disorders.


Feeling unsafe and afraid without cause also interrupted daily life, work, and other regular events for over six months. This is described as a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The symptoms are excessive worry and chronic fatigue.


In panic disorders, a person may experience unexpected recurrent episodes of panic attacks which cause severe symptoms like a pounding heart and difficulty breathing. These episodes make easy tasks too tricky, and sometimes people perceive a panic attack as a heart attack and visit the emergency room.


Phobia is being afraid and anxious about a particular object or situation. These specific situations or things cause severe anxiety or panic attacks. People avoid that situation to prevent stress and anxiety. Some common phobias are height, darkness, flying, dogs, insects or other animals, injections, blood, and narrow spaces.



OCD is defined as recurrent irrational negative thoughts called obsession and repetitive behaviors called compulsions. These behaviors include checking, counting, washing, and doing anything excessively to avoid obsessive thoughts and anxiety. A person with OCD experiences severe stress and anxiety if the tasks are not performed well.


In social anxiety disorder, a person feels stressed and anxious in a public gathering. As a result, they avoid social interaction, public speaking, and doing anything in public. They constantly worry about their behaviors and being judged by society in the school, workplace, or any gathering.

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Stress and Anxiety Disorder and Addiction

Anxiety disorders can lead to substance abuse (drug or alcohol addiction) because some individuals start taking medicines to treat their anxiety symptoms, and some take alcohol to reduce unwanted thoughts or sensations. Taking these drugs or alcohol long-term can cause dependence, and the individual gets addicted. There are several studies conducted which show the correlation between anxiety disorders and addiction. Therefore, the presence of both anxiety disorder and substance use disorder is termed a co-occurring disorder.


Treatment of Stress and Anxiety Disorders

Any stress or anxiety disorder is often treated with medications and psychotherapy to get the desired outcomes. Some common treatments include:


The most common psychotherapy is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) which helps the patient reason and concentrate on positive outcomes. Cognitive therapy helps to improve the pattern of thoughts by identifying, neutralizing, and confronting negative thoughts. In addition, exposure therapy involves an individual's engagement with unwanted fearful situations that the person has been avoiding. These two CBT methods help reduce anxiety and hostile, stressful thoughts.


Primary care providers may recommend anti-anxiety drugs to ease the terrifying symptoms of severe stress and anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, medications don't cure anxiety but relieve physical symptoms like constant fear and worry, panic attacks, and chronic pain. Benzodiazepines are a physician's first choice of medication, but long-term exposure to these drugs can cause dependency and many harmful side effects.



Researchers recommend many techniques to deal with anxiety disorders, like physical activities. Many studies prove that regular aerobic exercises and yoga can help reduce stress. In addition, taking meditation and practicing mindfulness can limit the chances of relapse and provide a long-term cure for anxiety disorders.


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Dealing with stress and anxiety disorders can be very challenging for a person because it interferes with daily life and work by causing severe physical symptoms and panic attacks. Sometimes it may lead to substance use disorders (SUD) and cause dependence on drugs or alcohol, but practicing a healthy lifestyle and psychotherapy can ease the symptoms of it. Lifestyle modification, exercising, and mindfulness are the keys to suppressing fear and negative thinking and living a stress-free healthy life.

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Physical symptoms of stress and anxiety disorder
Who is at risk of anxiety disorders?
Types of stress and anxiety disorders
Stress and anxiety disorder and addiction
Treatment for stress and anxiety disorders
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