Category: mental health

Addiction And Mental Illness Correlation

Addiction And Mental Illness Correlation

Addiction And Mental Illness Correlation

Research shows that that a good number of individuals with mental disorders also suffer from substance abuse and vice verser. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), individuals suffering from mental health disorder account for the consumption of 38% of alcohol, 40% of cigarettes and 44% if cocaine.

Dr. Stephen Gilman an addiction psychiatrist from New York University observes that substance abuse and other psychiatric disorders often take place simultaneously. Researchers do not know however why this correlation exists. According to Dr. Gilman, about 50% of individuals suffering from addiction also suffer from a mental illness. And about 20% of individuals suffering from mental illness suffer from addiction problems. These numbers tend to be higher when specific mental conditions are looked into such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and antisocial personality disorders. The numbers are higher in patients suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

A research conducted at the New York University indicated that:

  • Individuals suffering from alcohol addiction exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia when they went into withdraw after abruptly quitting alcohol.
  • Drugs and alcohol can lead to changes in one’s brain and these changes can lead to mental and personality disorders.
  • Most alcoholics also suffer from anxiety and depression. Alcoholic men in particular tend to suffer from antisocial personality disorders as compared to their non-alcoholic counterparts.

Underlying Causes of Mental Illness & Drug Abuse

Studies have shown that there are other underlying factors that could explain the simultaneous occurrence of mental illness and addiction. These include:

  • Studies conducted to compare fraternal and identical twins showed that the likelihood of having disorders in identical twins was higher than in fraternal twins. This shows that genetics could be responsible for some of mental illnesses and addictions.
  • Shared environment. Studies have shown that individuals who are exposed to certain environments are at a higher risk of developing substance addictions and mental illnesses. It is therefore not a wonder that some places have higher cases of mental illness and substance abuse than others. Accessibility to alcohol and drugs in some regions predispose a higher percentage of the population to the risk of developing these addictions, which could ultimately lead to mental illnesses.
  • Chemical deficiency. In situations where addiction and mental disorders occur simultaneously, neuro-chemical factors have been involved. Individuals who suffer from anxiety and alcoholism tend to have lower levels of the brain chemical serotonin. Research has also shown that mental disorders and addiction are linked to the dysfunction of monoamine oxidases, a group of chemicals found in the brain.


Many experts agree that diagnosis in cases where a patient is exhibiting both symptoms of addiction and mental illness is often difficult. For a proper diagnosis to be made, an individual would have to be substance free for no less than two weeks. Ideally, doctors treat both the psychological and addiction symptoms simultaneously. As a result, cases of misdiagnosis are not uncommon. For instance, an addict may exhibit symptoms that are mask bipolar disorder. Having a good medical history of the patient can help doctors identify the underlying issues and offer the appropriate course of treatment.

Understanding the Basics of Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks

Understanding the Basics of Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks

Understanding the Basics of Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks

Anxiety disorders are by large the most frequently occurring mental disorders in today’s world. When most of us become anxious, we tend to feel tense, uncomfortable, and upset. Anxiety disorder is a type of mental illness characterized by high anxiety and extreme tension and discomfort. Most of the times, the anxiety disorders in most individuals go unnoticed, but when it becomes severe, people get into a state of confusion. Their daily life is hampered, and they can’t do the things the way they usually do.

According to a survey, anxiety disorder is becoming very common, and it affects approximately one in every 20 individuals at a particular time. Most often the anxiety disorders start from childhood and attain unbearable proportions during early adulthood. Most common symptoms of anxiety disorders are as follows:

  • Palpitations
  • Breathlessness
  • Trembling
  • Feeling of chocking
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal distress
  • Dizziness

Anxiety disorders affect the way an individual feels, thinks, and behaves. If not treated in time, anxiety disorders can lead to serious complications and interrupt personal and professional life of an individual. There are severe types of anxiety disorders in the human body such as generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobia, and social phobia.

The main symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are the unrealistic, uncontrollable, and excessive worry about day-to-day things such as money, health, family, friends or career. Phobias are intense fears of particular situations or objects. These phobias may include the fear of dogs, cats, snakes, heights, closed spaces, spiders and so on. The person is normal if he or she is not in front of the feared object or situation. However, when the feared object comes in front of that individual, he or she becomes highly anxious and experiences a panic attack.

When people experience a panic attack, they feel as if they are about to die. Others feel as if they are getting suffocated and in some extreme cases they feel as if they have a heart attack. The first time you get a panic attack, you will be confused, and you may not be able to recognize it from a heart attack or some other ailment. So, it is advisable to meet your medical professional as soon as possible. Because the panic attacks mimic many types of ailments, the medical professional may perform a thorough physical examination.

The medical professional will first ask the patient about the patient’s past mental health history and recent medical history. If the patient has undergone any surgeries in the past, then the medical professional may ask about the details of that operation. So, whenever you go to visit the medical professional for the treatment of a panic attack, it is good to go along with the details of your past surgeries if any.

Before prescribing any medications for the panic attacks, the medical professional will first ask if you are currently on any other remedies for other ailments. The physical examination that is undertaken by the medical professional to comprises a head-to-toe check of all essential organ systems. The doctor or medical professional do conduct a neurological exam that is specially designed to see if the brain is functioning correctly. Depending upon the complexity of the symptoms, some general tests are also advised by the medical professional. These tests include urine tests, blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, and drug screens.

In extreme cases, if there are symptoms that are not related to regular panic attacks, then the doctor or medical professional may even ask the patient to consult a neurologist. A neurologist is a professional who is a specialist with the nervous system and its associated disorders.

In most cases, counseling is also done to understand the mental condition of the patient. The doctors or medical professional may also refer the patient to a psychiatrist or a therapist to understand the underlying cause of panic attacks. The psychiatrist or therapist may give the patient some tips on how to handle the panic attacks. Mostly self-help is the best first aid during a panic attack and the patient needs to be made aware of all the self-help methodologies. Proper treatment and proper medical advice inevitably reduce the panic attacks.