Anxiety and Stress Co-Occurring with a Work Addiction

woman struggling with food addiction

If someone misuses a substance, illicit drug, prescription or alcohol, it is usually fairly clear to identify a problem.

The symptoms associated with substance abuse addiction are often more obvious than other forms of addiction, such as an addiction to work.

This does not mean that a work addiction is not problematic or a severe issue that should be professionally addressed.

Many individuals may not immediately recognize that they may actually be addicted to their work, especially if they are finding success in their job or being promoted within their career.

The positive reinforcement for pouring oneself into work can make it more difficult to identify when a work addiction is actually present.

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Signs and Symptoms

However, there are many other signs and symptoms that are telling of a work addiction and that should be looked at closely, particularly when a person begins to be negatively impacted by the adverse consequences that may be associated with a work addiction.

Mental and behavioral health is closely tied with addiction and can underlie many of the destructive habits that are often repeated with any form of addiction.

A commonality among individuals who struggle with any form of addiction is the presence of anxiety or a type of anxiety disorder. Many people with addiction often develop behaviors as a means of self-medicating or treating their unresolved symptoms of anxiety, as these are often quite overwhelming to deal with on a daily basis.

For lack of better coping skills, addictive behaviors can serve as means of treating or working through anxiety symptoms that may be otherwise overwhelming to face alone.

Forms of Anxiety

Countless of individuals struggle with some form of anxiety or anxiety disorder on a daily basis, many who attempt to go on with their daily lives and schedules without any kind of professional help or assistance.

Image of agent with document speaking on the phone in working environmentAnxiety disorders include any type of:

  • Phobias
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder, and the like.

Symptoms of anxiety disorders may vary according to the type of anxiety disorder but can include a variety of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms that can be quite distressing to the individual experiencing the anxiety.

While there is no exact cause that influences the development of an anxiety disorder, it is known that a combination of factors play a part in how these mental illnesses arises.

Many research studies have shed light on the role that neurobiology and genetics plays in the development of mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, and these are not necessarily factors that can be changed or prevented.

What is within a person’s control is the manner in which they learn how to cope with and effectively deal with anxiety, and the key to any kind of change is awareness and understanding.

An individual with an anxiety disorder may turn to various forms of addiction, such as a work addiction, as a subconscious means of coping with the surmounting stress they may experience on a daily basis.

Greater Awareness

These habits and behaviors cannot be changed until there is a greater awareness of the full picture that may be involved. As long as an unresolved anxiety disorder is present, it will be difficult to fully work through the addiction itself.

Woman worshiping with open arms or taking in the Autumn sun in a park.If you have found yourself addicted to your work and perhaps neglecting other important priorities and duties to engage in your job, it is important to take a step back and fully analyze what may be going on in your life.

Having a professional evaluation by a specialist who deals with work addiction can give you a better understanding as to why your work habits may have become excessive or extreme.

If there is an underlying anxiety disorder present, it is important to manage this with professional treatment, which may include counseling, behavioral therapy, and medication management.

By dealing with the root of the problem can you find the freedom to move forward in recovery from a work addiction.

Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 8, 2016
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.