The connections in the regions of the brain that contribute to the development of anxiety disorders could, according to one study, be inherited.
Scientists believe that the connection between two regions, the central nucleus of the amygdala and the bed core of the stria terminalis, could be passed on to families, according to research on monkeys.
A team from the University of Wisconsin's School of Medicine and Public Health studied 378 pre-adolescent rhesus macaques. Young people were selected because extreme childhood anxiety carries a risk factor for anxiety and depression in humans.
The researchers hope that their findings published in The Journal of Neuroscience will form the basis for further studies to identify risk factors for anxiety in children
Dr. Ned Kalin, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin's School of Medicine and Public Health, said Newsweek : "We continue to discover the circuits that underlie human anxiety, particularly the changes in circuit function to develop the risk of early childhood, anxiety, and depressive disorders.
"In data from a species closely related to humans, these findings strongly suggest changes in human brain function that contribute to the degree of anxiety of an individual. Most importantly, these findings are very relevant to children with pathological fears and keep their promise to guide the development of new treatment approaches.
Kalin leads a continuing imaging study on the risk of anxious, preschool girls and is about to launch a second study of boys and girls clinically significant anxiety disorders start.
But while the study is revealing, Jonathan Oler, co-author of the study and an associate scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, said Newsweek it was limited by the fact that connectivity only accounted for about 4 percent of variance in the anxious temperament measure
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"That's not surprising at all As most genetic studies on psy cholesteric disorders often identify effects that are only fü Very small proportions of variance are responsible, "said Oler, indicating that this fear-based connectivity" was not the whole story. "
"We need to continue studying this model to get a full picture of the complex neural and genetic mechanisms that underlie anxiety and anxiety disorders," he said.
Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorders in which a person becomes excessively worried; Panic disorder, in which the victims of panic attacks are haunted; and social anxiety disorder, characterized by a fear of social or performance situations.
Current treatments focus on managing the symptoms of anxiety disorders, but do not stop them from developing. Psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy are commonly used to treat anxiety, as well as medications that can relieve physical and mental symptoms.
Such research is vital considering that around 40 million adults between the ages of 18 and 54 are feeling anxious, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
No single cause causes an anxiety disorder, as scientific research suggests stressful life events, female status, socioeconomic status and parent with mental illness may be factors.