Medication Misuse and Mental Health

Medication Misuse and Mental HealthAccording to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), mental health problems are health conditions that change one’s thinking, moods and behavior. Because of the impact that mental health issues can have, many patients with a mental health issue also struggle with medication misuse to relieve their symptoms.

Common Mental Health Issues

SAMHSA lists the following mental health issues as the most common:

  • Panic disorder – These disorders affect about 2.4 million adult Americans and is twice as common in women as in men. Characteristics of a panic attack include sudden terror that often brings a pounding heart, sweating, nausea, chest pain or smothering sensations, faintness or dizziness. Panic disorder frequently occurs alongside other conditions like depression, drug abuse or alcoholism.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder – This disorder affects about 3.3 million adult Americans, and occurs equally between the sexes. It usually appears in childhood, and characteristics of it include persistent and unwelcome anxiety (obsessions), which compel patients to perform rituals to maintain control (compulsions).
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – This disorder affects about 5.2 million adult Americans, but women are more likely to develop it than men. Characteristics of PTSD include reliving the trauma through nightmares or disturbing thoughts, which can make people feel detached, numb, irritable or aggressive.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – This disorder affects about 4 million adult Americans and twice as many women as men. Characteristics of GAD include excessively worrying, which can cause fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating and hot flashes. People with GAD may feel lightheaded, out of breath, nauseated or have to go to the bathroom frequently.
  • Social anxiety disorder – This disorder affects about 5.3 million adult Americans. Women and men are equally likely to develop social phobia, which is characterized by an intense feeling of anxiety and dread about social situations.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – This disorder affects as many as 2 million American children with characteristics that include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Medications are often the first line of treatment when dealing with mental health issues.

Medications for Anxiety

For anxiety disorders, the most frequently prescribed medications are benzodiazepines that may include the following examples:

  • Clonazepam (Klonopin), which is used for social phobia and GAD
  • Lorazepam (Ativan), which is used for panic disorders
  • Alprazolam (Xanax), which is used for panic disorder and GAD

Whatever the benefits, people who take benzodiazepines often suffer the following side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Grogginess
  • Nightmares

In addition to these side effects, there is a high risk for misuse, abuse and addiction.

Help for Medication Misuse and Mental Health Issues

Medication misuse and a mental health issue probably frustrate and overwhelm you simultaneously. Get help determining the most appropriate treatment for your specific needs. While recovery is difficult, it is possible and we can help, so please call our toll-free helpline today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have about co-occurring treatment programs.

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