Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder and it is characterized by unexpected and repeated panic attacks. There are many psychological factors that cause this disorder like life transitions, stressful life events or the environment. Inheritance might also play an important role as evidence suggests that it might run in families. Sometimes the first attack is caused by certain medications, physical illness or stress.
People with panic disorders often resort to alcohol or drugs to numb the fear or calm themselves down. But this only makes things worst as they might end up with dual diagnoses which make the patient more unstable and the treatment more difficult. When people have to deal with panic disorder and lose the ability to deal with stress there is a tendency to self-medicate. About 17% of the people with panic disorder use psychoactive drugs and 30% use alcohol.
People try to find a way to cope with the disorder and sometimes they make bad choices like alcohol or psychoactive drugs. Alcohol is not causing the panic attacks directly. It actually causes panic attack triggers. Some of those panic attack triggers might include poor body functioning, dehydration, dizziness and rapid heartbeat, flu like symptoms and stressful mistakes.
Excessive alcohol use can cause dehydration which is a very common problem with all forms of anxiety. Alcohol can cause excessive urination as it is known as a good diuretic. And dehydration can cause physical sensations that make the anxiety worse.
Alcohol also causes certain parts of the body to function properly and maybe the hormones are the most affected. The physical stress often causes mental stress that can make the panic attacks worse.
Following the consumption of alcoholic beverages, a hangover can cause flu like symptoms. And flu like symptoms can trigger panic attacks or they can have a strong effect on the panic attacks.
Rapid heartbeat, heart palpitations and dizziness are other symptoms caused by alcohol that can trigger panic attacks.
But maybe the worst in this list are the stressful mistakes that are caused by alcohol consumption. When people drink it’s very likely to make stupid mistakes that will add to the stress caused by the panic attacks. And it increases the risk of panic attacks.
Alcoholism develops in 10 to 40 percent of people with panic disorder and 10 to 20 percent struggle with substance abuse. Most often the symptoms of panic disorder develop before alcoholism occurs. Despite all the warnings and consequences people with dual diagnosis still believe that alcohol and drugs could help them.
When they have to deal with panic disorder people should ask for the help of a doctor for a better understanding of the condition and medical advice.
Finding the right treatment for people with dual diagnosis could be difficult as many times it’s hard to tell if the symptoms are the result of the addiction or the mental illness. The treatment plan should include both the psychosocial therapies and medication.
Anyway, there are facilities that are equipped to deal with dual diagnosis patients. And it’s a good idea to look for help in such facilities.