Substance or medication induced Anxiety Disorder – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

This is the type of anxiety disorder which is backed by intake or withdrawal from strong drugs or medications. In this anxiety disorder, the person shows persistent and severe signs of fear, nervousness and anxiety. However, this anxiety comes out forcibly as a consequence of consumption of harmful drugs, alcohol and even caffeine. If the disorder is a result of substance intoxication, the symptoms would last till the time period of use. However, if the disorder onsets after withdrawal from the substance, then the symptoms may last for over a time period of four weeks.

substance induced anxiety disorder, fear, anxiety

How common is substance induced anxiety disorder?

At least 5 million Americans are involved in drugs use and intoxication which can possibly lead to a disorder if they withdraw. 30 to 35% of people having anxiety disorder are involved with drug intoxication. Also, people having continuous medications for heart diseases, thyroid diseases and seizure are also vulnerable to this disorder. People who are dependent on alcohol and caffeine may commonly develop substance induced anxiety disorder as well.

What causes substance induced anxiety disorder?

Intake or withdrawal of harmful drugs like cocaine, marijuana, opium, hallucinogens, inhalants and sedatives can cause substance induced anxiety disorder. The disorder can also occur as a result of intake/withdrawal of medications such as anti-seizure medicines, pain relievers, analgesic medicines, antihistamines, medicines for Parkinson’s disease, muscle relaxing medications and cardiovascular medications. Alcohol and caffeine may also result in substance induced anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of Substance Induced Anxiety Disorder

Following are the symptoms to recognize substance induced anxiety disorder.

  • Visibly extreme anxiety, distress or any obsessions and compulsions in a person
  • Onset of panic attacks without a reasonable situation
  • Symptoms occurring during the use of drugs/medicines or after the withdrawal
  • Symptoms interfering with the daily life activities of the person

The signs of anxiety and worrying look similar to the signs of other mental disorders. However, substance induced anxiety disorder can only be recognized after the possibility of other Types of anxiety disorders have been ruled out from the options. There should compulsorily be an intake or withdrawal of drugs and medications involved with any of the above symptoms.

When to visit doctor?

You need to visit a doctor if you’ve been having the anxiety and panic attacks during or after a month of the intake of the drugs/medicines. Moreover, you should seek help from doctors if you’re unsure whether the symptoms are of an actual mental disorder or the aftereffects of the substances.

How Substance Anxiety Disorder is treated?

Your doctor will examine the drugs/substance that has been involved with the anxiety you’re having, and help you with the withdrawal from them. The process might be hard at first, but eventually gets easier along with the support from your doctor and therapist. Along with this, medicines and therapy play a vital role in the treatment process.


You doctor might recommend anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medicines to help you with the transformation phase. They help to control the fear and anxious feelings within you, and ease the way of change. Consult properly with your doctor before any kind of medications.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a very effective therapy that needs to go along with the medicines. The main aim of CBT is bringing out the inner feelings and emotions on why you started the use, and your struggles involved with the withdrawal. Talking with the therapist would help you to recognize the inner weakness and bring in positive thoughts to fight with the anxiety. Your therapist will guide and support you with unique ways to deal with the disorder.

Support groups

Support groups are visibly effective in improving mental health of people involved in substance abuse and withdrawal. You meet people who are facing same ordeals, and hear their stories similar to yours. You feel motivated when you know you’re not alone in this. You get more ideas on how you can improve, and fight the disorder.