Inflammatory Cytokines Cause Behavior Changes:
Behavior changes when you are getting sick youre tired, irritable, and dont want to interact with peopleIf you have kids, you learn to spot these signs of fighting off an illness very quickly. Even in pets, you will see that they withdraw, sleep, and avoid others when they are sick. Appetite changes and often they are hyper-vigilant as well.
Researchers call this sickness behavior, and seems as something apparent across all species of animals.
Sickness behavior makes complete sense evolutionarily when you think about it. The best way not to infect your family is to go and curl up in a corner and avoid everyone.
We have always known that illness causes behavior changes, but the connection between psychiatric illness and inflammatory response was made crystal clear in the 1980s. Interferon-alpha, an inflammatory cytokine that fights viruses, was first used in the 80s as a treatment for chronic hepatitis. Some patients reacted to the interferon-alpha with psychiatric side effects including depression, emotional instability, paranoia, agitation, and suicidal potential. These side effects occurred in patients on the highest doses of interferon-alpha, and reducing the dose took away the psychiatric problems.
Getting Help And Having Hope
No matter what you or your family has been through, theres hope. Caring mental health professionals are always available to listen to you and offer guidance. The right residential treatment program can provide exactly the supportive environment you need to nurture you through even the darkest depression. Reach out for help today and begin moving forward toward a brighter tomorrow.
Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive residential treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward healing.
Anxiety Disorders And Genetics: Is It Hereditary
The lifetime risk of anxiety disorder is over 20%. If youre dealing with anxiety, you are not alone!
Anxiety disorder is a general term that can include generalized anxiety, panic disorders, social anxiety, PTSD, phobias, and more.
This is a complex group of disorders with various ways of presenting, but there are some underlying biological similarities in their causes.
- Social anxiety disorder is really common and affects up to 10% of the population. People with social anxiety disorder have severe enough anxiety in social situations to cause behavioral alterations in order to avoid some social situations. This can lead to stress or an inability to function well in society.
- Generalized anxiety disorder is a condition in which people worry more than normal about everyday things. People with GAD may feel on edge, irritable, tense and they may have problems sleeping well.
- People with panic disorder have a sudden onset of anxiety. They have physical symptoms of acute fear such as feeling like they cant breathe, trembling, dizziness, and an increased heart rate.
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How Is Anxiety Diagnosed
To be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, youll have to speak to a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed professional counselor , or social worker.
Youll discuss your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Theyll also speak to you about your symptoms and compare your symptoms to those outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .
How Does Genetics Research Shed Light On Anxiety Disorders
Genetics plays a role in anxiety disorders, with heritability estimated to be up to 50%. The other half of the picture here is environmental and lifestyle factors.
The big takeaway here is that anxiety disorders have a genetic component, for most people. And, the genetic component causes a physical alteration in the way the brain works or in the physiological response to stress.
Knowing your genetic kryptonite may help you to find the right solution to your anxiety problems.
Genetics research on anxiety:
Researchers investigate how genes influence the risk of a disease/condition through several methods:
- One way is to first assume that genes in a certain pathway are important, and then investigate those variants in detail.
- Another way is to do a Genome-wide association study , which looks at all the genes in people with a disease to see which variants differ from a control group.
- A final approach is to look at how specific variants interact with lifestyle factors to influence disease risk.
All of these methods have their pros and cons, and often all of the different methods end up being used by different research groups investigating a topic.
Lets take a look at the specific genes linked to anxiety disorders:
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If Anxiety Or Depression Runs In Your Family
Age may be a clue about whether your family might have a genetic link to anxiety or depression. If one of these conditions shows up in someone before the age of 20, their family members are more likely to, as well. In most cases, the younger the person is when they get anxiety or depression, the more likely it is to be hereditary.
Anxiety and depression can still be genetic if they show up in your older family members. But often, new conditions in people that are over the age of 20 are linked to painful or stressful life events.
Youâre more likely to inherit a tendency for anxiety or depression if a close family member has it, instead of a more distant relative. If you have a twin, parent, or sibling who has anxiety or depression, youâre more likely to get it because youâre closely related to them.
Oxytocin: Anxiety When Separated From Loved Ones
Oxytocin is a hormone and a neuropeptide researchers link to both emotional functioning and social empathy. In women, large quantities of oxytocin are released during childbirth and breastfeeding and are part of the mother-child bonding.
Anyone who has had kids understands that there is a connection where a mother can recognize their own babys cry. In fact, oxytocin is a big part of a mothers neuroendocrine response to their babys crying. Researchers study this by brain imaging using an fMRI on mothers listening to crying babies. It is a built-in, physiological response based on oxytocin.
Going beyond mother-infant bonding, oxytocin, in general, plays a role in social attachment and trust. In fact, if you give normal adults oxytocin intranasally , there is a substantial increase in trust amongst people, which increases the benefits of social interaction. If you want to get into the geeky details on what brain imaging shows with intranasal oxytocin, here is a new study illustrating the fMRI changes in activity levels in certain areas of the brain. Its pretty cool
Stressful situations cause the body to increase oxytocin, which acts quickly to decrease anxiety. But oxytocin creates an anti-anxiety effect only under stressful conditions. In other words, boosting oxytocin when youre not stressed doesnt change anything. It is only a chill pill in situations that have your body on alert.
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Roots Of Major Depression Revealed In All Their Genetic Complexity
A massive genome-wide association study of genetic and health records of 1.2 million people from four separate data banks has identified 178 gene variants linked to major depression, a disorder that will affect as many as one in every five people during their lifetimes.
The results of the study, led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs researchers at Yale University School of Medicine and University of California-San Diego , may one day help identify people most at risk of depression and related psychiatric disorders and help doctors prescribe drugs best suited to treat the disorder.
For the study, the research team analyzed medical records and genomes collected from more than 300,000 participants in the V.A.s Million Veteran Program , one of the largest and most diverse databanks of genetic and medical information in the world.
These new data were combined in a meta-analysis with genetic and health records from the UK Biobank, FinnGen , and results from the consumer genetics company 23andMe. This part of the study included 1.2 million participants. The researchers crosschecked their findings from that analysis with an entirely separate sample of 1.3 million volunteers from 23andMe customers.
When the two sets of data from the different sources were compared, genetic variants linked to depression replicated with statistical significance for most of the markers tested.
What Is The Treatment For Anxiety
Now that weve answered the question of, Can anxiety be genetic?, its time to move onto the next topic: treatment. Whether the anxiety is caused by previous trauma or genetics, most patients are treated with a combination of therapy and medication. Doctors typically prescribe one of the following:
Antidepressants: These reduce anxiety by affecting neurotransmitters.
Benzodiazepines: These sedatives affect certain neurotransmitters to relax the body and mind.
Beta-blockers: Also used to treat heart conditions, beta-blockers are designed for short-term relief.
Each one of these medications offers tons of different brand-name drugs to choose from, which can make treatment seem overwhelming. Fortunately, theres a solution: anxiety gene testing.
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Anxious Brains Are Inherited Study Finds
08 July 2015
The brain function that underlies anxiety and depression is inherited, a new study finds but there is still plenty of space for experience and environment to reduce the risk of a full-blown mental disorder.
The research focused on rhesus monkeys. Like humans, some young rhesus monkeys have what’s called an “anxious temperament.” Expose them to a mildly stressful situation, like being in a room with a stranger, and the monkeys will stop moving and stop vocalizing while their stress hormones skyrocket. Extremely shy children do the same, said Dr. Ned Kalin, a psychiatrist at the University of WisconsinMadison.
Kalin and his colleagues scanned the brains of young monkeys, anxious and not, and found three brain regions associated with anxiety that also showed evidence of heritability. About 30 percent of the variation in early anxiety is explained by family history, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Anxiety and depression are widespread disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health , about 18 percent of U.S. adults have experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year, and about 7 percent have had a major depressive episode. The average age of onset for anxiety disorders is 11.
Can Genetics Affect Mental Health Treatment
Your genes may influence how well a specific treatment works for you. For example, research has indicated that certain genes might affect how well your body absorbs, uses, and excretes alcohol and drugs, including antidepressant medications.
Several genes are known to influence drug metabolism, but the results from these studies are primarily of interest to doctors and researchers.
While some consumer genomic test kits provide information about topics like drug metabolism, genomic testing is not the same as genetic testing.
Furthermore, doctors and scientists don’t fully know how useful this information may be for consumers. Talk to your doctor before using your genomic health information to make decisions about your health care, including your depression treatment.
Additional research is needed to understand what findings from genetic studies could mean for antidepressants as well as other medications used to treat depression.
Genetics factors aside, if you’ve been diagnosed with depression and are trying to , keep in mind that the process can take time. You may need to try more than one type of therapy before finding the right fit. You might even need to adjust or change your treatment plan over time.
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Genetics Of Intermediate Phenotypes
Gathering further insight into the genetic contribution toward potential pathophysiological hallmarks, investigators have studied GAD and intermediate phenotypes related to GAD, focusing on imaging genetic, endocrinal, and behavioral readouts. Intermediate phenotypes are hypothesized to be closer to the underlying genotype and therefore contribute to a better understanding of gene function.
The Case For Depression
The U.S. NLM says depression and anxiety are genetically linked. Depression is known to run in families, suggesting that genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing this disease. However, research into the genetics of depression is in its early stages, and very little is known for certain about the genetic basis of the disease. Studies suggest that variations in many genes, each with a small effect, combine to increase the risk of developing depression.
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Ocd Ptsd And The Evolutionary Advantages Of Anxiety
In the case of OCD, it is believed that a tendency towards cleanliness and hyper awareness of the order of immediate surroundings may have become encoded into the genes in order to increase the lifespan of humans and allow for more reproduction due to the connection between good sanitation and health, as well as that between self-awareness and an improved capability for self-defense. It has further been discovered that a genetic mutation of the body’s serotonin transporter gene is common in people with OCD, and may be a contributing factor to the condition.
Similarly, PTSD is thought to be a possible evolutionary mutation. Though it may be hard to imagine why debilitating flashbacks and persistent stress could be an advantage, evolutionary theorists believe that PTSD could have evolved to protect humans from threats, triggering the fight or flight response at the slightest hint of remembered danger and causing the person to go into a super-powered mode of high blood pressure, adrenaline coursing through their veins and extra glucogens or sugar energy rushing to power their muscles. This would have ensured safety from even the slightest potential threat.
However, what’s even more likely is that these anxiety disorders are actually misfirings of the evolutionary advantages. For example, with OCD, keeping order and clean can be valuable, but obsessive compulsive disorder may occur when that value has gone too far.
Which Inflammatory Cytokines Are Linked To Depression Or Anxiety
Research shows that some people with depression have higher levels of TNF, IL-6, IL-13, IL-18, IL-12, and IL-1RA. The IL stands for interleukin, which is a whole family of inflammatory molecules.
Studies also show that TNF-alpha, IL-6, and C-reactive protein have links to anxiety disorder in some people.
Studies on PTSD, which is grouped in with anxiety disorders, show that trauma elevates IL-1B, Il-6, TNF-alpha, and C-reactive protein. Generalized anxiety disorder has links to increased levels of TNF-alpha and CRP.
In fact, to create an animal model of anxiety or depression, researchers subject the animals to mild unpredictable stress .
Brain imaging studies point to higher levels of CRP , which is a general marker of inflammation, being predictive of psychosis. Additionally, increasing IL-10, which is anti-inflammatory, is linked with greater symptom improvement in depression.
Researchers have also narrowed down that stress-induced depression is more likely to have pro-inflammatory cytokines as a cause.
Diving deeper into TNF-alpha
TNF-alpha is one of the bodys primary inflammatory cytokines. Its production occurs by activated immune cells, such as macrophages, mast cells, B cells, and lymphocytes. It can also be produced in other cells, such as smooth muscle cells, in response to an injury. Adipose tissue also secretes TNF-alpha.
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