On an average day, most of us worry about all kinds of things. 

Will I be late to work? Am I eating healthy enough? Did I leave the stove on? This is a typical part of daily life, but if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may find yourself faced with an overwhelming sense of worry, panic or dread in response to everyday situations. Unlike normal anxiety, these feelings are excessive, persistent and often unpredictable, with the ability to significantly impact your health, career, relationships and more.

At First Responder Wellness, we know how difficult it can be to live with an anxiety disorder, especially for law enforcement, firefighters, EMT’s, dispatch, corrections, and other public safety professionals who are constantly exposed to trauma and adverse circumstances. As a first responder, you often deal with dangerous and life-threatening situations that can cause a great deal of emotional stress over time and amplify anxious feelings. In an effort to cope, some may turn to compulsive spending, drinking excessively, over or under eating, or taking prescription or over the counter drugs or other substances. We’re here to help you manage your anxiety more effectively and navigate the complex relationship between mental health and wellness.

What are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are a mental health concern characterized by disproportionate feelings of worry, fear and anxiousness that arise in response to normal situations. Highly distressing, anxiety disorders are persistent and can make even daily, routine tasks seem overwhelming. Some people may have panic attacks or feel uneasy in social situations, while others struggle with phobias and obsessive behaviors. There are several different kinds of anxiety disorders with various symptoms and triggers, but they all have the potential to negatively impact your quality of life, especially if they remain untreated. The major types of anxiety disorders include:

    • Generalized anxiety disorder
    • Social anxiety disorder
    • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobias

If you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone. In the United States, anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million adults and are especially prevalent among law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, dispatch, corrections and other first responders and public safety professionals. Unfortunately, only a small percentage seek help due to the stigma associated with mental health but delaying treatment can make you susceptible to more severe symptoms and co-occurring disorders such as depression or alcohol and substance use.

How are Anxiety and Addiction Related?

The link between mental health and substance use is well known, but anxiety disorders have a particularly strong connection with addiction. In fact, an estimated 20 percent of individuals with anxiety also have a substance use disorder. It isn’t always clear why this happens, but anxiety disorders can have a significant impact on your overall health and wellness, with recurrent symptoms that can make it difficult to participate in daily life, perform well at work or manage personal responsibilities. Due to this, some try to cope by self-medicating with alcohol or other substances, and while this can provide temporary relief, it often exacerbates symptoms and makes it harder to manage stress in a healthy way.

Not only does this complicate the situation and make recovery more difficult, but alcohol or substance use can delay treatment by masking the symptoms of anxiety.

Treating Anxiety and Addiction at First Responder Wellness

At First Responder Wellness, our culturally competent team is dedicated to helping first responders who are struggling with disorders such as anxiety. Some of us are former first responders ourselves, so we understand the difficulties you face on a daily basis and how deep the feelings of stress, grief and anxiety can run. To give you the best possible chance at achieving long-term wellness, we utilize an effective blend of treatments that address mental health. This integrative approach will help you explore the underlying factors that contribute to your anxiety and allow you to develop the skills you’ll need to productively manage your symptoms. Some of the treatments we use include:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Effective psychotherapies (CBT, EMDR, etc.)
  • Integrated mental health care
  • Trauma services
  • Stress management
  • Coping skills development
  • Chemical dependency education
  • Reintegration support
  • Continuum of care
  • Neurofeedback

Our programs are designed specifically for first responders and personalized to meet your unique needs. By emphasizing the mental health aspect of wellness and providing a well-rounded selection of proven therapies, our goal is to empower each patient to find an approach that works for them and move past the issues that are holding them back from lasting sobriety.