Brain & Behaviour Psychology

Neurological Basis of Anxiety

Written by Talha Rasheed

Anxiety is a normal problem that every person experiences at some point in their life. It is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an certain result. All the root of anxiety problem depends upon the cause or stimuli that motivates or makes up people to show its symptoms in the form of numbness or tining in the hand or feet, feelings of panic, fear and uneasiness.

But what activities takes place in brain that generate this normal emotion, anxiety. Most experts belive that anxiety happens due to combination of both Biology and Psychology.

Researchers believe that some people have biological vulnerability, such as an overactive nervous system, that makes them more prone to anxiety. A person can inherit this vulnerability in the same way as a person inherit height and hair color. Similarly some people may have a psychological vulnerability to anxiety, in which they might have worrisome view of the world or they don’t tolerate some situations as well as others. Each of us may have some type of vulnerability but we need something in environment to trigger it. It could be negative as shock, terrorist attack or positive such as wedding or birth of child.

The exact mechanism behind the process of anxiety is still only partially known but after a lot of research and performing number of experiments by different researchers it has been observed that two components are much involved in the anxiety formation. These are GABA and Serotonin. Brain is composed of cells called neurons, which communicate with one another using neurotransmitters such as GABA, Serotonin and etc. Neurotransmitters are secreted by one neuron into a cell junction called synapse. There the neurotransmitter binds to structures called receptors attached to a second neuron. The receptors allow that adjacent neuron to take up neurotransmitter, leading to chemical changes in other parts of the cell that regulate brain function. The feeling of anxiety may result from the cell either taking up too much or not enough neurotransmitter.

GABA is a chemical messenger that is widely distributed in brain. Researchers believe that GABA serves to control the anxiety when neurons are excited. This hypothesis is based on the fact that medications used to alleviate anxiety bind to the same receptor as GABA. The effects of these medications which are classified as Benzodiapines is to increase natural effects of GABA. In other words they help to reduce neural activity even further this is why these molecules help us to calm down.

The other component that plays part in anxiety occurrence is Serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan, it is part of a class of molecules called neurotransmitter and is derived from the amino acid tryptophan. Researchers believed that people with anxiety disorders may have a serotonin deficiency or else the available serotonin in the parent’s body is not being used as efficiently as it should be. This belief is strengthened by the success of SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) medications treating those with anxiety symptoms. These drugs block the amount of available serotonin in the body by blocking per-synaptic reuptake transporters from drawing serotonin out of the synaptic cleft.

If the person have anxiety that’s severe enough to interfere with his ability to function then medication would be right for him. Many different types of medication have been used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including traditional anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazipines, and newer options like antidepressants and beta-blockers. Anxiety medication also includes cognitive behavioral therapy, which involve treatment through talking in a way that help a person to manage problems by changing the way the person think and behave. Researchers believe that by characterizing the neurobiology of anxiety will able them to bring forth therapeutic advances that reduce the significant burden and long term functional impairment associated with anxiety disorders.








About the author

Talha Rasheed

Here I am........Its me Talha Rasheed doing BS-BIOLOGY from Preston university Islamabad. I am curious, intellectual, hardworking, crazy and mad. Mad you have to be if you are passionate and sincere with your work. I want to become a scientist and reformer who by his astonishing work brings reform in the society. You can know me more by my writings.... :)