The Neurotransmitters Involved In Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. There are different types of this disorder such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder(GAD), and post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). There are several causes for an anxiety disorder. Mostly, it is due to abnormal levels of certain chemicals, which are known as neurotransmitters, in the brain.

The brain continuously secretes neurotransmitters to balance mood levels and keep them stable. When mood levels are not stable, a person faces mood problems, such as anxiety, stress and depression. Anxiety is also often seen as a sign of depression. Most of these mood disorders can be treated with help of various medications. However, it is important to consult a doctor before taking any medications.

Serotonin is one of the chemicals that plays an important role in maintaining stress levels. A decreased level of serotonin as well as reduced activity of this neurotransmitter can result in anxiety, according to the US Surgeon General. If the anxiety disorder is due to low serotonin levels, it can be treated with the help of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). In fact, these medications are better treatment options for people suffering from OCD and PTSD.

Gamma amino butyric acid, or GABA, is a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on people. Like serotonin a deficiency in this neurotransmitter can cause anxiety disorders. To treat lowered levels of GABA, benzodiazepines are frequently prescribed. These medications bind with the GABA receptors and boost the inhibitory response of the neurotransmitter. As a result the person gets quick relief from anxiety. However, these medications are not meant for long-term use, as they can be addictive.

Norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter that can cause anxiety disorders, if not found in right levels. This neurotransmitter is also known as nonadrenaline. It excites a person and prepares him/her for the flight-or-fight response. When the body perceives a stressful situation, this neurotransmitter is released by the adrenaline gland. However, if the person is under chronic stress, norepinephrine is constantly produced by the adrenal glands and the body is always in the state of flight-or-fight response. As the result, the person is always stressed out and jumpy. This type of anxiety disorder can be treated with the help of SNRIs or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These drugs are approved by the US FDA for treating depression, but they can also be used for anxiety disorders, according to Mayo Clinic. Some of the side effects of these drugs include dryness of the mouth, tremors, nausea and insomnia.

Corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) plays a very important role in managing stress disorders, according to the Surgeon General of the United States. CRH is released in increased quantities in the case of anxiety disorder. An article published in 2008 in the European Journal of Pharmacology states that drugs that target CRH receptors in the cells could hold the key to effective treatment of depression as well as other anxiety disorders.