Anxiety Disorder (PTSD) can pretend to be Addiction or Alcoholism

I am retraining my brain because I consistently think of people suffering from PTSD, as war veterans. It’s true that 20% of soldiers who have been deployed in the past 6 years have PTSD, but it can occur after any traumatic experience. Examples are situations involving natural disasters, serious accidents, life-threatening illnesses, physical abuse, and sexual assault during child or adulthood. When I looked up information on PTSD, I learned that is falls under — Anxiety Disorder.

The most common anxiety disorders are
  • generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • panic disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • social phobia (or social anxiety disorder)

What can also be confusing is that anxiety disorders commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse. These behaviors can mask anxiety symptoms or make them worse. In some cases, these other illnesses need to be treated before a person will respond to treatment for the anxiety disorder.

The Anxiety Disorder PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:

1. Re-experiencing symptoms

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts.
  • Re-experiencing symptoms.

These may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

2. Avoidance symptoms

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

3. Hyper-arousal symptoms

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

Hyper-arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.

self help tips
Practical self-help tips for Anxiety and PTSD

PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults, but it can occur at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and there is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families.

Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.


A doctor who has experience helping people with mental illnesses, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can diagnose PTSD. The diagnosis is made after the doctor talks with the person who has symptoms of PTSD. What is really sad is that only 50% of those with PTSD seek treatment.

The main treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), medications, or both. Everyone is different, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health care provider who is experienced with PTSD. Some people with PTSD need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms.

PTSD - not just for veterans
PTSD can affect anyone. Click here to read my first article

Great tip: Wear a medical ID if you have been diagnosed with PTSD. You might find yourself in a situation where you are unable to speak for yourself, and you need medical attention. Knowing about your condition, will help the medial staff to customize your treatment.

Another tip: If someone with PTSD is going through an ongoing trauma, such as being in an abusive relationship, both of the problems need to be treated. Other ongoing problems can include panic disorder, depression, substance abuse, and feeling suicidal.

Remember, it is imperative to seek treatment for PTSD as early as possible. Symptoms can become more severe over time and for some people PTSD can last for many years. The family is very important in the recovery of a person with an anxiety disorder. Ideally, the family should be supportive but not help encourage their loved one’s symptoms. Family members should not trivialize the disorder or demand improvement without treatment. It’s a delicate balance.

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14 thoughts on “Anxiety Disorder (PTSD) can pretend to be Addiction or Alcoholism

  1. Lucky there was no such thing as PTSD during WWI and WWII just a bit of shell shock here and there, but with PTSD we’d probably have lost both wars to the Jerries, and lets be honest; they were real fair dinkum wars!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I followed you back here after you viewed my blog and am glad I did. Thank you for your post. One thing though … There are two other symptoms that I think you should work into your post (or are worthy of another one). I only mention them because I suffer from them … in addition to many of the ones you listed. First: dissociation. I most recently sought out therapy because I found myself losing time. I would sit at my desk for entire days and not have any recollection of what i had done. I would sit and play video games for hours, not realized how much time had passed. Second: In addition to guilt, depression, and worry, many of us complex-PTSD sufferers experience a great deal of shame. Shame makes it very difficult to seek treatment, especially if you don’t even know what you’re dealing with! I was unfortunate to have suffered from PTSD for over 40 years before it was properly diagnosed. I only mention this for someone who’s reading your list, wondering if they’re suffering from complex-PTSD as well. Take the first step – find a qualified therapist who has experience with PTSD. My two cents. Thanks again for the blog.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you, Victoria. I am grateful for your blog. Even the comment section opens my understanding on topics. The preceding comment is a great example. I was not aware of the common anxiety disorders from PTSD. Thank you for your work.


  4. Both my husband and son suffer from P.T.S.D with what I try to do. It is very hard to deal with. I try but don’t get very far. My husband also has Parkinson’s disease and Is dying of a blood clot in his heart. This information is pretty good but until you live with it you don’t really understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe you are absolutely correct about that. For example, I am an alcoholic. There is a doctor that is an “expert” on Alcoholism. He is highly respected and writes many articles on the subject. Every time I read something of his, I get so mad, because he just doesn’t seem to “get it”. The information is scientific and technically accurate but always misses the mark. I did some research on the guy, and it seems like he has zero experience (personally) with the disease. In any case, after I wrote my PTSD article, I learned the most from, PTSD sufferers, that read it and shared their experience. Thank you for being one of those people.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I suffered from PTSD and found alcohol allowed me to forget and enter oblivion. I never received treatment for my alcohol abuse but after being married and having children I had a mental breakdown and was lucky enough to be given a counsellor who recognised my PTSD from a fatal car crash. She treated me with EMDR and I had great success in emptying out, for the most part, Pandora’s box. But my most recent, unsought and non-medical treatment involved a photographic shoot which was the most cathartic solution of all. I belong to an anonymous journal website and they had a campaign. I was lucky to be selected for the photographic shoot and finally laid my old demons to rest by taking part. It’s taken nearly 30 years. But I am finally out of the clutches of this demon.
    Unfortunately I have a daughter with anxiety and who abuses alcohol and self harms in multiple ways. Your article will spur me on to find a specialist who may be able to identify if she has PTSD and to seek specific treatment for her.
    Thank you for liking my article, it allowed me to follow you back to here to read this article.
    Gratefully yours…


  6. I’m so happy I followed you back this blog it on point. Kudos to you. It was not until I finished my book (after doing all the research). In my childhood my family felt that I was going thru depression because of my mother’s nervous break down & the various trauma in my life. I had to look back in the mirror and said “I think I went thru ptsd” but it’s one of those moments that’s just a thought???? After reading this blog by golly I was right. Thank you. Looking forward to reading your blog.


  7. PTSD is very similar in some traits yet very different for each person. Some of the traits can manifest one way in one person and another in someone else.
    I have ‘layered PTSD’ meaning at different times in my life, from a young child onwards, events happened that have left me with layered PTSD. I’m sure it’s much more common than it is spoken of.

    My addiction is not being addicted. I don’t smoke, drink any alcohol ever, or do drugs and I won’t do anything (such as gamble) that has potential to cause an addiction. I also overly control my environment at times.

    Thankfully through counselling and a lot, I mean a whole lot, of self work and I’m not 100% controlled by PTSD as I live my life. I also have a sister who is a women’s counsellor for abuse/sexual abuse and I can I just acknowledge how very very fortunate I am to have her and her capabilities in my life. I’ve learned to respect my triggers and make my mental health somewhat of a priority.

    What isn’t touched on, are some of the ‘medical conditions’ that follow a person who is in a constant state of alert and stress; PTSD.
    Type 2 Diabetes
    I’m sure the list is more, but those are the ones I’m familiar with. It’s not just the day day to day struggle, it’s like a manifest of years that build up and exhibit themselves in another form like Fibromyalgia. Sorry, I suck trying to explain things sometimes.

    Thank you so much for your post!! After reading all the comments I can see you have made a positive impact on a lot of people. It’s very warming. It’s also nice to have a light on a very complex common mental health issue that is a part of today’s world.

    Liked by 1 person

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