kathy ireland® Recovery Centers


Anxiety is a natural stress response that helps you overcome challenging or dangerous situations by producing a burst of energy and focus. However, it becomes a problem when anxiety impacts your ability to cope with daily stressors or leaves you unable to complete everyday tasks due to overwhelming feelings of fear or distress. Many people misunderstand and trivialize anxiety disorders, even though they impact a large portion of the population. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “an estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults had any anxiety disorder in the past year.” The effects often linger and can influence all aspects of daily life. A few ways that anxiety can affect your ability to function include the following: 

  • Heightened stress levels
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Trauma-related reactions to triggers including intrusive thoughts and flashbacks
  • Mood swings
  • Hyperactivity often followed by extreme exhaustion
  • Muscle aches and headaches
  • An overwhelming sense of fear or impending doom

What Is an Anxiety Disorder?

According to information provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), “people with anxiety disorders respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread.” Physical reactions occur in the body, including higher heart rate, hyperarousal, sweating, and increased adrenaline. The DHHS goes on to state that “an anxiety disorder is diagnosed if a person:

  • Has an inappropriate response to a situation
  • Cannot control the response
  • Has an altered way of life due to the anxiety”

How Anxiety Can Affect Recovery

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that “symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and they are often worse during times of stress, such as with a physical illness, during exams at school, or during a family or relationship conflict.”

Chronic anxiety can have a noticeable effect on your physical and mental health. In addition to increasing the risk of being diagnosed with a mental health disorder, long-term anxiety can also lead to several health concerns, including:

  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased risk of gastrointestinal issues
  • Increased risk of self-harming behaviors
  • Decreased quality of life
Business team coworkers talking at work, discussing new project ideas
family therapy

Risk Factors for Developing Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders have a genetic factor. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience published research describing generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as “a heritable condition with a moderate genetic risk (heritability of approximately 30%).” The paper went on to state that “within the anxiety spectrum, [GAD] is closely related to childhood separation anxiety, social phobia, and panic.” Other risk factors that play a role in the development of anxiety disorders include those listed below: 

  • Experiencing a highly stressful or traumatic event
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • History of mental health issues
  • Certain physical conditions, including thyroid issues
  • Excessive caffeine consumption
  • Prescription or illicit drugs

Common Anxiety-Related Disorders

Anxiety plays a prominent role in multiple mental health disorders. Trauma and chronic stress are among the most common causes of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Specific phobias like arachnophobia
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
  • Separation anxiety
  • Anxiety as a side effect of medication
Mental health disorders

Symptoms of Anxiety

The triggers and symptoms of anxiety vary in intensity. Not everyone experiences the same reactions to stressful events, but a few common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Changes to appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Sweating, tremors, and feeling shaky
  • Heart palpitations

Specific phobias are a little different, and their symptoms generally feel very acute and impact individuals during exposure to the thing that causes fear. According to NIMH, people with phobias may do the following:

  • “Have an irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation
  • Take active steps to avoid the feared object or situation
  • Experience immediate, intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation
  • Endure unavoidable objects and situations with intense anxiety.”

Treatment and Therapy for Anxiety

Environmental changes, prescription medication, and psychotherapy provide the most effective treatment for anxiety disorders. During your stay at one of our facilities, the clinicians will collaborate with you to determine the best approach for overcoming your anxiety symptoms.

The staff at kathy ireland® Recovery Centers use a trauma-informed approach to treatment, ensuring you remain safe and comfortable while receiving the care you need to heal.

case management in outpatient treatment
Group therapy

Benzodiazepines and Anxiety

Benzodiazepines are one of the most common prescription medications for treating anxiety disorders. However, depending on what substance you need treatment for, you may find yourself unable to take medications to decrease your anxiety.

For individuals recovering from SUD involving benzodiazepines, it may be vital to avoid taking them for treating co-occurring conditions.

The experienced team at kathy ireland® Recovery Centers can help you overcome challenges related to recovery without using medications that may have a negative impact on your healing.

Coping With Anxiety and Stress During Long-Term Recovery

Anxiety often increases during stressful, uncomfortable, or unfamiliar situations. After completing your treatment program, the transition to outpatient treatment may cause a temporary increase in anxiety. Your case manager and clinical team will ensure you have access to therapy and prescription medication as needed to help you stay in control and emotionally stable as you learn to cope with the changes. 

We are here to help you succeed, and our alumni services will make sure you connect with local private and community-based recovery support.

Evidence-based therapy

Anxiety can accompany any mental health disorder and increases the risk of relapse after treatment for substance use disorder.

Call us today to get screened for co-occurring disorders like anxiety: (603) 619-1132.

Skip to content