Tag Archives: anxiety

Anxiety Disorders Linked to Mitochondria

Anxiety Disorders Linked to Disturbances in the Cells’ Powerhouses [Mitochondria]  19-Sep-2019 1 Newswise

The powerhouse of the cell, the mitochondria, provides energy for cellular functions. But those activities can become disturbed when chronic stress leads to anxiety symptoms in mice and humans. Iiris Hovatta of the University of Helsinki and colleagues report these findings in a new study published 26th September in PLOS Genetics.

Chronic stress due to stressful life events, such as divorce, unemployment, loss of a loved one and war, are a major risk factor for developing panic attacks and anxiety disorders. 

This is not only proven, but also intuitively true, as we know from our own lives, once beset by chronic pain.  Continue reading

Fear and Anxiety: A Two-System Framework

Using Neuroscience to Help Understand Fear and Anxiety: A Two-System Framework. – PubMed – NCBI – Am J Psychiatry. Nov 2016

This makes sense to me because my anxiety isn’t specific like fear is. When I’m anxious, whatever I’m thinking about makes my stomach clench with dread, but when I’m afraid, I fear a specific situation.

Tremendous progress has been made in basic neuroscience in recent decades. One area that has been especially successful is research on how the brain detects and responds to threats.

Such studies have demonstrated comparable patterns of brain-behavior relationships underlying threat processing across a range of mammalian species, including humans.

This would seem to be an ideal body of information for advancing our understanding of disorders in which altered threat processing is a key factor, namely, fear and anxiety disorders.

But research on threat processing has not led to significant improvements in clinical practice.

The authors propose that in order to take advantage of this progress for clinical gain, a conceptual reframing is needed.

Key to this conceptual change is recognition of a distinction between circuits underlying two classes of responses elicited by threats:

1) behavioral responses and accompanying physiological changes in the brain and body and

2) conscious feeling states reflected in self-reports of fear and anxiety.

This distinction leads to a “two systems” view of fear and anxiety.

The authors argue that failure to recognize and consistently emphasize this distinction has impeded progress in understanding fear and anxiety disorders and hindered attempts to develop more effective pharmaceutical and psychological treatments. The two-system view suggests a new way forward.

Circuitry for Fearful Feelings, Behavior Untangled in Anxiety Disorders PubMed – NCBI – Sep 2016 • Science Update

An “incorrect” assumption that fear and anxiety are mediated in the brain by a single “fear circuit” has stalled progress in developing better treatments for anxiety disorders, argue two leading experts. Designing future research based on a “two-system” framework holds promise for improving treatment outcomes, say Daniel Pine, M.D.

Neuroscience advances in understanding how the brain detects and responds to threat have failed to translate into significantly improved treatments because the field has been led astray by a simplistic notion of a “fear system,” contend Pine and LeDoux.

For example, hopes that medications that lessen rodents’ stress reactivity might help people feel less fearful or anxious often haven’t borne out.

It seems absurd to try modeling disorders that stem from human brain function, like anxiety, depression, or addiction, in rodents. Chronic pain cannot be modeled in animals if it really is a biopsychosocial disorder as many claim.

They can’t say “psychological and sociological factors greatly influence pain perception” and then cite pain studies that were done on animals.

Rather, the authors point to mounting evidence that such subjective feeling states are mediated via different circuitry than defensive behaviors. The former via higher order processing in the cortex – and the latter via the amygdala and related centers, mostly deeper in the brain.

Fear and anxiety describe conscious subjective feeling states; defensive reactions refer to rapidly-deployed behaviors or physiological responses.

Fear denotes feelings associated with an imminent threat, anxiety feelings associated with an uncertain or more distant source of harm.

For example, the amygdala, often colloquially dubbed the brain’s “fear center,” in fact unconsciously detects and responds to imminent threats and contributes to fear only indirectly.

States like fear and anxiety instead arise from areas of the cortex associated with higher order thinking processes and language in people, only some of which occur in other animals.

It’s hard to imagine a rat with anxiety about how they’re going to pay for retirement, or how they’re going to find affordable housing. Yet these are precisely the kinds of thoughts that can trigger my anxiety.

If feelings of fear or anxiety are not products of circuits that control defensive behavior, studies of defensive behavior in animals will be of limited value in finding medications that can relieve feelings of fear and anxiety in people,” observe the authors, who note that making such distinctions will help in the design of more realistic translational studies.

the experience of fear and anxiety is rooted in cortical changes in thinking, attention and memory, some “anxiolytic” effects might result from “general emotional blunting” or “impaired cognitive processing,” they add.

Improving treatments will require a more exact understanding of how treatments work. With this knowledge and the two-systems perspective, existing treatments might be adapted to work better. Brain imaging biomarkers might help tailor treatments to target circuit dysfunctions of specific patients.

Pregabalin (Lyrica) for Anxiety

Because I’m plagued by anxiety, I’m always interested in any unorthodox methods of dealing with it. While “benzos” would work for the immediate problem, I can’t (and am not allowed to with my opioids) take them all the times I’m anxious.

With all my researching, I’m surprised to discover that I missed a solution that seems obvious in retrospect: the Lyrica I’m prescribed, which I take on an “as needed” basis for a certain kind of pain, can also act as an anti-anxiety medication.

Here are a couple of PubMed abstracts showing that Lyrica (pregabalin) has been evaluated for anxiety for years already: Continue reading

The Diagnosis and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

The Diagnosis and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders – free full-text /PMC6206399/ Sep 2018 

Background

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in Europe, with a 12-month prevalence of 14% among persons aged 14 to 65.

Their onset is usually in adolescence or early adulthood. The affected patients often develop further mental or somatic illnesses (sequential comorbidity).

Methods

This review is based on pertinent publications retrieved by a selective search in PubMed.   Continue reading

Neurosteroids: Endogenous Role in Human Brian

Neurosteroids: Endogenous Role in the Human Brian and Therapeutic Potentials – free full-text /PMC3139029/ – July 2011

This chapter provides an overview of neurosteroids, especially their impact on the brain, sex differences and therapeutic potentials.

Neurosteroids are synthesized within the brain and rapidly modulate neuronal excitability. Neurosteroids such as allopregnanolone are positive allosteric modulators of GABA-A receptors with powerful antiseizure activity in diverse animal models.

Neurosteroids increase both synaptic and tonic inhibition. They are endogenous regulators of seizure susceptibility, anxiety and stress.

This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for: a potential new treatment for the anxiety that has tormented me for decades.  Continue reading

Neurosteroids in the Treatment of Anxiety

Neurosteroids as Neuromodulators in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders free full-text /PMC3356011/ – Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). Oct 2011

Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders. They are frequently treated with benzodiazepines, which are fast acting highly effective anxiolytic agents. However, their long-term use is impaired by tolerance development and abuse liability.

In contrast, antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are considered as first-line treatment but have a slow onset of action.

Neurosteroids are powerful allosteric modulators of GABAA and glutamate receptors. However, they also modulate sigma receptors and they are modulated themselves by SSRIs.   Continue reading

6 Health Problems with EDS

I posted this information in 2017, but I think it’s worth another look. It gives a good overview of what patients with this connective tissue disorder have to deal with.

Below is a collection of PubMed articles discussing 6 (there are many more) different medical problems that people with EDS have to deal with.

Most Important:
Problems with Local Anesthetic

Local anesthetic failure in joint hypermobility syndrome ; Alan J Hakim, Rodney Grahame, Paul Norris, and Colin Hopper; J R Soc Med. 2005 Feb;  – full-text PMC article Continue reading

Pregnenolone for Bipolar Depression

A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Pregnenolone for Bipolar Depression – free full-text /PMC4200497/Jul 2014

Depression in bipolar disorder (BPD) is challenging to treat. Therefore, additional medication options are needed. In the current report, the effect of the neurosteroid pregnenolone on depressive symptoms in BPD was examined.

Pregnenolone was well tolerated. The results suggest that pregnenolone may improve depressive symptoms in patients with BPD and can be safely administered.

That’s an unusually positive note with which to end the abstract, and I think there’s some truth to it – at least for me. After finding multiple articles about how neurosteroids are helpful for depression and anxiety, I started experimenting.  Continue reading

The GABAergic Hypothesis of Depression/Anxiety

The GABAergic Deficit Hypothesis of Major Depressive Disorder – free full-text /PMC3412149/ – Mol Psychiatry. – Apr 2011

This is a very technical article on a newer theory about what “causes” depression and anxiety.

My increasing desperation during bouts of increasing anxiety lately has motivated me to search for alternate routes of treating it (since I cannot have benzodiazepines due to taking opioids). It feels like my depression and anxiety always come together, so any new idea about treating depression gives me hope it could also alleviate my anxiety.

Here we summarize clinical and preclinical evidence supporting a central and causal role of GABAergic deficits in the etiology of depressive disorders. Increasing evidence points to an association between major depressive disorders (MDDs) and diverse types of GABAergic deficits.

Continue reading

Suicidal Thoughts Linked to Musculoskeletal Pain

Suicidal Thoughts Linked to Pain in Those with Rheumatic or Musculoskeletal DiseaseBy Janice Wood July 2019

A new survey highlights the significant impact of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) on mental health.

The survey of more than 900 RMD patients revealed that pain had caused one in 10 to have suicidal thoughts in the previous four weeks. Pain also caused 58 percent to feel that everything was unmanageable for them.

This is a feeling I know only too well: the sinking sensation every time I think about how I’m going to get through this life, feeling completely overwhelmed by even trivial tasks, running around in mental circles looking for a way out of an unbearable situation…  Continue reading