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How Alcohol Can Worsen Anxiety

a man sits on a couch appearing to be distraught about how alcohol and anxiety are linked

It’s no secret that alcohol and anxiety don’t mix well. For people of all ages, alcohol can worsen anxiety symptoms and lead to panic attacks. But for teens, who are still developing physically and emotionally, the effects of alcohol on anxiety can be even more pronounced. For teens with anxiety disorders, alcohol can exacerbate anxiety symptoms and make it harder to manage their condition.

If a youth you care about is struggling with alcohol and anxiety, it is vital to seek professional help to get the support you need. Many treatment options are available, such as an anxiety treatment program at HillsidesCares. Our team at HillsidesCares has extensive experience working with youth struggling with alcohol and anxiety, and we can help you and your family navigate the challenges of co-occurring disorders. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support at 323.641.4842. We are here for you.

The Effects of Alcohol on Anxiety

Teens who drink alcohol are more likely to experience increased anxiety and panic attacks than those who don’t drink. Alcohol interferes with the brain’s ability to regulate stress and can cause the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear, to become more active. This combination of events can lead to increased anxiety levels and cause people who already suffer from anxiety disorders to experience more frequent and intense panic attacks.

For teenagers, who are still in the process of physical and emotional development, the effects of alcohol on anxiety can be especially pronounced. Some of these effects include:

  • Difficulty managing anxiety symptoms – Teens who drink alcohol may have more difficulty managing their anxiety symptoms, such as intrusive thoughts, fear, and panic attacks. This can lead to increased feelings of stress and hopelessness, which in turn makes it more challenging to cope with their condition.
  • Changes in brain chemistry – Research has shown that alcohol can interfere with developing key brain regions, including those involved in emotion and stress regulation. This can make it harder for teens to deal with anxiety in healthy ways and may increase their risk of alcohol or substance use disorders.
  • Increased risk of co-occurring conditions – Studies have found that alcohol use can trigger or worsen other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety disorders. In addition, alcohol use can make it more difficult to manage other co-occurring conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Because their brains are still growing and changing, adolescents are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of substance use. Furthermore, alcohol can interfere with developing healthy coping skills, making it harder for teens to manage their anxiety and symptoms.

The Dangers of Self-Medicating Anxiety

Unfortunately, many people suffering from anxiety disorders turn to alcohol to self-medicate their symptoms. However, this is often a short-term solution that offers only temporary relief from anxiety. In the long run, alcohol to cope with anxiety will only worsen symptoms. Not only will a person have to deal with the initial symptoms of anxiety, but they’ll also have to deal with the adverse effects of alcohol withdrawal when they try to quit drinking.

Seeking professional support if you know a youth struggling with alcohol and anxiety is crucial. Many evidence-based treatment options are available, including an anxiety treatment program at HillsidesCares.

What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?

When most people think of mental health conditions, they think of a single disorder that can be treated with medication and therapy. However, this is not always the case. Many people suffer from multiple mental health disorders, known as co-occurring disorders. These disorders include mental health conditions, substance use, or behavioral issues. Co-occurring disorders are often complex and require specialized treatment.

At HillsidesCares, we have experience treating co-occurring disorders, including alcohol and anxiety. Our team of skilled therapists is here to support you and your family as you navigate the challenges of managing alcohol and anxiety together. We offer a wide range of evidence-based treatments to address co-occurring disorders, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help today.

Find Help from an Anxiety Treatment Program at HillsidesCares

Anxiety is a common problem for teenagers, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture in their lives. If you’re a parent whose teen is struggling with anxiety, there are some things you can do to help. First, it’s important that you talk to your child about their anxiety and let them know that you’re there for them. You must also provide support and understanding as they try to cope with their disorder.

In addition, you should encourage your teen to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in treating adolescents with anxiety disorders. Finally, you should ensure that your home is a safe haven for your teen—a place where they can relax and feel comfortable without judgment or criticism.

At HillsidesCares, we offer a comprehensive alcohol and anxiety treatment program for teens. With the help of our dedicated team of therapists, your child can learn to manage their anxiety and develop healthy coping skills for dealing with stressful situations. Contact us today at 323.641.4842 to find out how we can help your teen overcome alcohol and anxiety together.