Research To Provide Anxiety Treatment Through Understanding Brain
A research at the University of Colorado at Boulder psychology is finding that the understanding of the brain mechanisms that allow us to make choices will advance treatments for the millions of people who suffer from the effects of anxiety disorders.
Anxiety is fight of nerve cells
Professor Yuko Munakata and her colleagues, who are doing the new research that can help with anxiety treatment, found that “neural inhibition,” a process that occurs when one nerve cell suppresses activity in another, is a critical aspect in our ability to make choices.
“The breakthrough here is that this helps us clarify the question of what is happening in the brain when we make choices, like when we choose our words,” Munakata said. “Understanding more about how we make choices, how the brain is doing this and what the mechanisms are, could allow scientists to develop new treatments for things such as anxiety disorders.”
Medicine and psychology tried for many years to determine why people with anxiety can be paralyzed when it comes to decision-making involving many potential options. Munakata believes the reason is that people with anxiety have decreased neural inhibition in their brain, which leads to difficulty making choices. “A lot of the pieces have been there,” she said. “What’s new in this work is bringing all of this together to say here’s how we can fit all of these pieces of information together in a coherent framework explaining why it’s especially hard for people with anxiety to make decisions and why it links to neural inhibitors.”
There are two ways in which the research could be helpful in improving treatments for anxiety, according to Snyder. While specific medications that increase neural inhibition are currently used to treat the emotional symptoms of anxiety disorders, the findings suggest that they might also be helpful in treating the difficulty those suffering from anxiety have in selecting one option when there are too many choices.
“Secondly, a more precise understanding of what aspects of cognition patients are struggling with could be extremely valuable in designing effective approaches to therapy for each patient,” she said.
“For example, if someone with an anxiety disorder has difficulty selecting among multiple options, he or she might benefit from learning how to structure their environment to avoid choice overload.”
Researchers are very pleased thus far with the outcome of the new study that can help with anxiety.