By Ammara Virk
The most common type of research done on anxiety seems to focus on what causes anxiety. For example, they may focus on environmental factors such as work-related stressors as a cause for anxiety. In such cases, they are focusing on processes that “turn on” anxiety.
However, as is pointed out by the article “The biology of Anxious Temperament May Lie With a Problem in an Anxiety ‘Off Switch’”, an important aspect of anxiety to consider is that dysfunction could exist in an individual’s ability to deal effectively with and diminish anxiety after its onset.
Researchers at the University of Madison suggest that a specific neuropeptide, neuropeptide Y, is the ‘off-switch’ and deficiency in this neuropeptide can lead to anxiety. Also note that these deficiencies were found in the central nucleus of the amygdala, a region of the brain that plays a very important role in fear, anxiety, and their regulation.
These findings have important implications for treatment: for example, in instances where preventative therapy is not possible, this will allow researchers to focus on treatments “promoting recovery after stress.” This is very helpful as early onset of extreme anxiety (that is, during childhood) can lead to problems like depression and substance abuse later on in life.
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