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Science may have found a cure for anxiety without the side effects

Published: 15 MAY 2018 12:23PM

Words by AC Speed | Senior Editor

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ANXIETY is usually a condition you only become aware of if you actually suffer from it, or, if you care enough about your anxiety-ridden partner to actually try and help them with it, instead of telling them to just "calm down".

Although we are very aware of the different types of behavioral changes that can occur as a result of suffering from an anxiety or panic attack, which can have physical and mental negative implications, it's still rather a mystery as to what specific biological process actually causes many of these changes to occur within us.

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Current treatment methods rely on a whole host of different medications such as Xanax, Diazepam (Valium), Propranolol & Amitriptyline (to name just a few) which are usually prescribed to you by a GP. Whilst there are other methods such as CBT and counseling, many people are put straight onto meds.

The issue with these drugs is very simple, they don't directly tackle anxiety, instead, they target many different areas of the body in an attempt to release various chemicals to give the patient a calming effect in the hope of reducing anxiety levels.

Whilst they can be effective to a certain extent, they can also trigger a range of adverse side effects such as drowsiness, slurred speech, confusion, memory problems, blurred vision and for some people, these medications can cause the user to enter a state of zombie-like mindset where essentially all feelings are just taken away.

A paper recently published in the science journal Nature Neuropsychopharmacology, lead by a team at the Department and Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan have studied a specific gene that may be able to directly regulate anxiety.

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"Anxiety disorders significantly impair quality of life. However, limited knowledge of the underlying mechanisms impedes the development of effective therapeutics." - Guo-Jen Huang, Department and Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences and Author.


The team has looked at a specific gene called, Nptx2, which is known to be associated with anxiety and found within the hippocampus, a small organ located within the brain's medial temporal lobe and forms an important part of the limbic system, the region that regulates emotions.

They found that by eliminating this gene it actually leads to increased anxiety levels, whereas, when they overexpressed this gene they found a significant reduction in anxiety-related stress levels and behaviors.

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"Overexpression of Nptx2 in the hippocampus alleviates stress-induced anxious behaviors and reverses the changes in expression of glucocorticoid receptor-related genes"


"Our results suggest Nptx2 may be a potential target for anxiolytic therapeutics."

Whilst more research is needed relative to this specific gene and its crucial role in modulating anxiety within the hippocampus, the discovery could potentially lead to a range of new treatments for behavioral anxiety and a range of anxiety-related disorders without the need to take medications that essentially just try to mask the problem and cause, sometimes, crippling side effects for the patient.

Media Resource://10.1038/s41386-018-0091-z

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