Substance Induced Depressive Disorder

Mental health disorders commonly associated with substance-induced anxiety disorder are panic attacks, phobia disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Substance-induced anxiety disorder is caused from the use and misuse of psychoactive substances. A variety of substances can intoxicate you and provoke or exacerbate anxiety-related symptoms. In addition, anxiety can occur during the withdrawal stage as you try to reduce or eliminate drugs and/or alcohol from your body.


Subtypes and categories used to diagnose substance-induced anxiety disorder:

  • Panic Attacks
  • Phobias
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessions & Compulsions

Substance-induced anxiety disorder categories are based on when the disorder initially presented, whether the symptoms manifested during intoxication, following ingestion of particular drug or during withdrawal from a particular substance. This disorder typically persists as long as you continue to use or misuse the substance. When you develop a substance-induced anxiety disorder during withdrawal, you may experience symptoms for approximately 4 weeks following the discontinuation of the substance. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edition) recognizes the condition as a mental disorder.

Causes and Symptoms:

Substance-induced anxiety disorder occurs as result of excessive alcohol consumption or abuse, illegal substances, toxins and/or prescription medications. Anxiety symptoms typically occur as a result of alcohol intoxication, cannabis use (also commonly known as marijuana), caffeine consumption, hallucinogens, amphetamines and other related drugs, cocaine, various inhalants, PCP or phencyclidine and products that are made from it, along with several other less common substances.

Withdrawal from hypnotics, alcohol, anxiolytics, sedatives and various other substances can also lead to anxiety. Prescribed medications such as: norepinephrine and epinephrine, analgesics and anesthetic agents, oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants, bronchodilators, medication for Parkinson’s disease, antihistamines, anticholinergic agents, thyroid drugs and insulin, corticosteroids, lithium carbonate, medicines for cardiovascular conditions, antidepressant drugs and antipsychotic drugs can also cause substance-induced anxiety disorder. In addition, various toxins and heavy metal preparations such as paint, insecticides, fuel, carbon monoxide, nerve gases and carbon dioxide can also give rise to anxiety-related symptoms.


It is important to note that there is a prominent difference between substance-induced anxiety disorder and an anxiety disorder that occurs as a result of a medical condition. The difference mainly lies on the basis of clinical manifestations and diagnosis. A number of medications used to treat hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can give rise to substance-induced anxiety symptoms. It is often difficult to diagnose this condition so a diagnosis is usually made from the onset of your condition and your symptoms. It is also important to note that there are prominent differences between substance-induced anxiety disorder, primary psychotic disease, drug and/alcohol withdrawal, dementia and delirium.


Demographic information is not available at this time, but this condition is most commonly found and likely to occur in people who frequently abuse drugs or alcohol.


The course of the treatment is determined by your anxiety symptoms. The most important goal in the treatment process is to stop drug and/or alcohol abuse. If a prescription drug is causing the disorder it is important to treat the medical condition with an alternative medication or treatment protocol. This disorder is treated in the same manner as other anxiety disorders such as:  obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorder and phobias. Treatment typically consists of a combination of antidepressants or anti-anxiety agents and psychotherapy.


Substance-induced anxiety symptoms tend to subside once the substance is reduced or eliminated. Symptoms may persist even after you have stopped using the substance, which means that it may take time for the chemical to completely leave your body. Your symptoms may continue for hours, days or even weeks. Obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms that are induced by substance use or misuse require more intensive treatment as the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder may not completely disappear even after the substance use has stopped.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.). Washington, D.C.

Kaplan, H. I. & Sadock, B. J. (2007). Kaplan and Sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences-clinical psychiatry (10th ed.). Pennsylvania: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2012). Substance-induced disorders. Retrieved from


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