Anxiety Disorders Increase Risk of Substance Abuse and Suicide

Over one third of people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, reported Dr. Kirk Murphy at the 19th Annual David Berman Conference on Concurrent Disorders on May 25, 2011.

Concurrent Disorders are what the mental health community refers to when a client is diagnosed with both a psychiatric disorder (such as Anxiety or Depression), and a substance abuse (alcohol or drug) or gambling addiction.

Frequently individuals with anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric disorder attempt to manage the discomfort of their symptoms by using drugs or alcohol. Counsellors and doctors often refer to this process as “self-medicating”.

More shocking, however, was Dr. Murphy’s report that having an anxiety disorder roughly doubles the odds of suicide. These were the findings in a study of Swedish seniors over the age of 70, published in the July 1991 edition of Archives of General Psychiatry. These results stood even when other psychiatric diagnoses and substance abuse were excluded, and marital status statistically controlled in the study.

Dr. Murphy concluded that mental health professionals should routinely screen their clients for anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation.

Cognitive-behavoural therapy has proved to be very effective in reducing anxiety symptoms and providing relief to patients. Dr. Murphy also noted that there are also a variety of prescription medications available to anxiety sufferers.

For more information on concurrent disorders, contact Jayne Embree at, your family physician, or


About victoriacounsellor

A former counsellor, with an M.A. in Psychology and over 20 years in the field, I continue to be fascinated with human nature. This blog endeavours to share positive observations and stories on "keeping it real", finding balance in life, and striving for personal transformation.
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2 Responses to Anxiety Disorders Increase Risk of Substance Abuse and Suicide

  1. Pingback: Panic anxiety disorder treatment « Article Provenance

  2. Pingback: Freedom: 18 Years After a Suicide Attempt « Paucis Verbis

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