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Addiction to stress and anxiety

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We have all heard that it is possible to struggle with addictions because of excessive stress and anxiety. But is it possible to become addicted to stress and anxiety themselves? Some researchers say yes. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, it is possible to become addicted to the adrenaline rush associated with high-anxiety and high-stress states (Orloff, 2011). Some people "get off," for example, by watching fear-inducing media on various sorts of manmade and natural disasters in order to produce this 'high.' Here is her list of quesetions one might ask oneself in order to determine if one is literally addicted to anxiety:

Do I worry about many things every day?
Is it difficult to stop watching anxiety-provoking news on TV or the internet, though I try?
Do I experience separation anxiety when I can't access my smart phone or computer?
Do I make problems larger, not smaller?
Do I worry about things that no one around me worries about?
When one anxiety is solved, do I immediately focus on another?
If you answered "yes" to all 6 questions, worry plays a very large, addictive role in your life. 4-5 "yeses" indicates a large role. 2-3 "yeses" indicates a moderate role. 1 "yes" indicates a low level. Zero "yeses" suggests that you're more warrior than worrier! (Orloff, 2011)

She argues that we can literally become addicted to the neurohormones and neurotransmitters which are secreted when we experience anxiety. Katherine Schreiber quotes Jim Pfaus, a neuroscientist at Concordia University who specializes in addiction, "By activating our arousal and attention systems...stressors can also wake up the neural circuitry underlying wanting and craving - just like drugs do.".

Orloff, Judith (2011). Are You Addicted to Anxiety? Learn How Not To Be. Retrieved from:

Schreiber, Katherine (2012). Can We Become Addicted to Stress? Retrieved from:



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