lunes, 4 de diciembre de 2017

Can there be a relationship between anxiety and drug use?

We can consider that the relationship between anxiety and substance use is bimodal: on the one hand, the continued use of a substance can lead to experiencing symptoms and even anxiety problems. On the other hand, some anxiety disorders may be associated with a higher consumption of certain drugs, for example, alcohol or tobacco.

In general, the continued use of a substance can lead to the appearance of some symptoms associated with anxiety such as discomfort, irritability or tachycardia. For example, the important relationship between the use of ecstasy and / or stimulants and the appearance of psychological alterations such as anxiety, panic or concentration difficulties has been described. People who experience the withdrawal syndrome of a substance can also manifest anxiety. In fact, an anxiety disorder has been described that considers that it may be induced by substances (or, in other words, be a consequence of its frequent and excessive use). In substance-induced anxiety disorder, anxiety symptoms are associated with the use, abuse or dependence of a drug (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, etc.). Regular drug users have higher levels of anxiety than non-consumers, even after they have given up their use (even periods longer than six months).

On the other hand, the social use of some substances is widespread. They are usually taken because the person who consumes them feels less inhibited, or because of the pleasurable sensations they produce. Some people with anxiety disorders may use some substances as a strategy to cope with their problem and reduce anxiety. For example, a person with difficulties in social situations can drink alcohol or take marijuana because its effects disinhibit it and can perform better in that situation.

Anxiety is basically a defensive mechanism. It is a warning system in situations considered threatening. It is a universal mechanism, occurs in all people, is normal, adaptive, improves performance and ability to anticipate and respond. The function of anxiety is to mobilize the organism, keep it alert and willing to intervene in the face of risks and threats, so that its consequences do not occur or are minimized. Anxiety, then, pushes us to take the appropriate measures (flee, attack, neutralize, face, adapt, etc.), depending on the case and the nature of the risk or danger. The danger is given by the obstruction of any project or desire important to us, or by the degradation of status or achievements already achieved. The human being wants what he does not have, and wants to keep what he has.

The anxiety then, as an adaptive mechanism, is good, functional, normal and does not represent any health problem.

However, in some cases, this mechanism works in an altered way, that is, it produces health problems and, instead of helping us, it disables us. What factors can influence that a normal, healthy and adaptive mechanism ceases to be?

Predispositional factors

Biological factors, some of them genetic
Personality factors Patterns of stress coping. Lifestyle
Environmental factors. Learning. Contexts and social supports
Activating or triggering factors

Situations or events that are experienced as overflowing our resources
Vital events with serious consequences or that require significant adaptive efforts.
Obstacles to achieve or that limit our ability to achieve or maintain them
Consumption of stimulants or other drugs
Maintenance factors, linked to the management of one's anxiety

The "fear of fear"
The loss of conditions or faculties, due to the anxiety itself, that make it difficult to face the problems
Attempted solutions that are counterproductive
The problematization of initially non-conflictive areas, as a consequence of one's anxiety
Inadequate or erroneous confrontation of the problems originating anxiety.
The establishment of phobic mechanisms
Anxiety problems occur, usually, by a combination of some of these factors over a period of time.

The main enemy of anxiety is the feeling of hunger caused by prolonged hours of fasting or lack of food. In the mornings we rushed home, breakfast something very light or sometimes nothing, at lunch we are on the street eating whatever we find and we come to the house to open the refrigerator or pantry and eat whatever, as we We die of hunger. It is here, when we say "anxiety kills me" or "anxiety as they put me in front". And, it is precisely the lack of order in the meals, the disorganized schedules, or the poor selection of food is what leads us to have this type of problems in the diet. The lack of food for long hours causes the blood sugar to drop and awakens the desire to eat sweet or very caloric things, thus generating a vicious circle.

To combat anxiety, foods rich in magnesium, B vitamins and tryptophan should be consumed:

1. Magnesium: Due to its relaxing properties, this mineral maintains a stable heart rate. We find it in nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.), legumes (beans or lentils), leafy green vegetables (spinach, Swiss chard) or whole-grain carbohydrates (noodles, bread or brown rice, wheat germ).

2. Vitamins B: They participate in the formation of serotonin from tryptophan, therefore they are important in emotional and neurological health. We find B vitamins in whole grains such as oats or wheat, in nuts or vegetables.

3. Tryptophan: this amino acid is a component of proteins, which is a precursor of serotonin, which allows to maintain adequate levels of it. Serotonin is a cerebral neurotransmitter related to mood, and which participates in the control of appetite; Low levels of it are related to anxiety attacks that lead us to lose self-control. Tryptophan is found in animal proteins such as meat, fish, turkey, dairy products or eggs or in fruits such as pineapple and banana. Try to consume these products in the afternoon, to avoid anxiety during the night.

Tips to fight anxiety

Respect food schedules: make all meals at the same time.
Avoid caffeine, prefer aromatic waters.
Staying hydrated, the best source of hydration is water.
Walk or maintain some type of physical activity to increase serotonin levels.
Chew food well.
Sit at the table to eat, avoid doing other activities while eating (watch TV, work on the computer, etc.).
To avoid low blood sugar, make 4-5 meals a day.
Incorporate fruits or vegetables in all meals.
Consume a couple of tablespoons of flaxseed in yogurt or breakfast milk.
Take Omega 3 supplements.
Remove sources from the table, after serving your portion.
Plan the weekly menu, especially the dinners.

Skip meals
Consumption of alcohol, cigarettes or chocolate
Lack of rest or sleep
Unbalanced or disordered diet
Lack of exercise
Foods that help fight anxiety

Dehydrated fruits
Low-fat yogurt
Whole grains
Nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
Gelatin diet
Vegetable soups or broths
All kinds of fruits and vegetables


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