Does anxiety arise out of chemical imbalances in brain?

Does anxiety arise out of chemical imbalances in brain?

People with an anxiety disorder usually want to know how it happened to them. The exact reasons of the disorder are still not known, but scientists believe that genetic, environmental or biological factors can trigger anxiety disorders. Differing patterns of brain activity are presumed to manifest the development of this disorder in individuals.

The brain consists of billions of neurons that communicate with each other. This communication between the neurons is possible with the existence of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances in the brain that help create and control signals between all the neurons in the brain. Any chemical imbalances in the brain, such as anomalies in neurotransmitter activities create an abnormal neural pathway that leads to emotional pain, triggering anxiousness in an individual.

Researches that were done to test the conditions of affected people’s brains have shown that imbalances in brain chemicals are associated with the occurrence of anxiety. Though there is no gene that is coded for anxiety at birth, some might be predisposed with the disorder due to imbalances of neurotransmitters. Since neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating moods, actions and thoughts, any chemical imbalance can greatly affect one’s mental state and behavioral patterns.

Imbalance in neurotransmitters may cause anxiety

Research suggests that neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) are related to mental health problems like anxiety and depression as explained below:

Dopamine: Dopamine strongly influences the thinking areas of the brain. Lower levels of dopamine can decrease concentration levels and impair focus, thus increasing the risks of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Higher levels of dopamine, on the other hand, can make a child restless, hyperactive and hyper-stimulated.

Serotonin: Imbalances in serotonin levels can give rise to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder and phobias. Low serotonin levels can lead to social withdrawals, lack of attention and concentration, low self-esteem, disorganization, fearfulness etc.

Norepinephrine: Norepinephrine (NE) is associated with the “fight or flight” response to stress. Almost all anxiety disorders involve NE elevations. For example, sudden increase of NE can cause panic attacks. Moreover, low levels of NE can lead to lack of alertness, poor memory and less concentration levels. It also plays a role in the occurrence of ADHD.

GABA: GABA makes sure that all the neurotransmitters are working in a balanced manner; it is the communication speed controller. Low levels of GABA means that communications between the neurons will be chemically unstable; higher levels makes one overtly relaxed, impairing even normal reactions and functioning. For example, low levels of GABA gives rise to impulsive behaviors like OCD, blighting one’s logical reasoning.

Reduced brain connections among people with GAD

According to a 2012 study done by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reduced connections between different parts of the brain has been seen among people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The brain structure that controls amygdala, the set of neurons that processes emotions, had weaker connections of “white matter” which explains the intense anxiety that an individual with GAD experiences.

The study researchers conducted diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) in the brains of 39 healthy people and 49 GAD patients. Reduced connections between the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex and the amygdala were seen among people with GAD. However, the brains of the healthy volunteers did not show any weaker connections. The study also suggests that behavioral therapy, if administered on such patients, can strengthen the connections by helping them in regulating their emotions.

Recovering from anxiety disorders is possible

The brain creates neural pathways all the time, for every new event and for each new activity. When these neural pathways are created for a wrong reason, for example, to feel nervous in social events, they may trigger a reaction in the body such as release of cortisol and other hormones. This, then, leads to a feeling of excessive anxiousness.

While it is not yet possible to alter the brain functions, there are medications that can control the anxiety disorder. However, one may need help of advanced anxiety treatment centers that are equipped with customized interventions that involve both pharmacological and psychological processes.

The Anxiety Treatment Centers of California can help a person looking for effective treatment options for anxiety disorders. One can contact us at our 24/7 helpline number (855)-972-9459 or chat online with our representatives for further assistance on anxiety disorders treatment centers in California.

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