Five Articles on Anxiety

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About two months ago my girlfriend (Jenny Kokkines) wrote a paper relating to anxiety and the effects on the brain. In doing so she conducted a fair amount of research and I would like to share both the introduction to her paper as well as several important links and abstracts relating to anxiety.

The dictionary definition of anxiety (according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary) is a “painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill” or “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it”. In short, anxiety is essentially an inner state of turmoil an individual experiences during scenarios that don’t necessarily require such an intense response.

  1. Anxiety and its Effecton Decision (Introduction):
    Often, people who experience high anxiety will display certain behavioral traits, such as pacing back and forth, suffer from physical pain, or ruminate (focus on the symptoms of their own distress and the causes/consequences of it). There is strong evidence supporting that anxiety and the behavior it creates have some dictation over decision-making. The integration of neuroeconomics and the neural circuitry of fear learning play a large role in developing anxious traits and utilizing them to make specific choices.

  2. Anxiety and Decision-Making (Abstract):
    While the everyday decision-making of clinically anxious individuals is clearly influenced by their excessive fear and worry, the relationship between anxiety and decision-making remains relatively unexplored in neuroeconomic studies. In this review, we attempt to explore the role of anxiety in decision-making using a neuroeconomic approach. We first review the neural systems mediating fear and anxiety, which overlap with a network of brain regions implicated in studies of economic decision-making. We then discuss the potential influence of cognitive biases associated with anxiety upon economic choice, focusing on a set of decision-making biases involving choice in the face of potential aversive outcomes. We propose that the neural circuitry supporting fear learning and regulation may mediate the influence of anxiety upon choice, and suggest that techniques for altering fear and anxiety may also change decisions.

  3. A Lifespan View of Anxiety Disorders (Abstract):
    Neurodevelopmental changes over the lifespan, from childhood through adulthood into old age, have important implications for the onset, presentation, course, and treatment of anxiety disorders. This article presents data on anxiety disorders as they appear in older adults, as compared with earlier in life. In this article, we focus on aging-related changes in the epidemiology, presentation, and treatment of anxiety disorders. Also, this article describes some of the gaps and limitations in our understanding and suggests research directions that may elucidate the mechanisms of anxiety disorder development later in life. Finally we describe optimal management of anxiety disorders across the lifespan, in “eight simple steps” for practitioners.

  4. Schedule Footprints Vs. Deadline Counts: How to Hack Your Stress Levels:
    Scott Young – Author, MIT Graduate, discusses stress and how he manages it.

  5. Prenatal Stress Induces High Anxiety and Postnatal Handling Induces Low Anxiety in Adult Offspring (Abstract):
    It is well known that the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is altered by early environmental experiences, particularly in the perinatal period. This may be one mechanism by which the environment changes the physiology of the animal such that individual differences in adult adaptative capabilities, such as behavioral reactivity and memory performance, are observable. To determine the origin of these behavioral individual differences, we have investigated whether the long-term influence of prenatal and postnatal experiences on emotional and cognitive behaviors in adult rats are correlated with changes in HPA activity. To this end, prenatal stress of rat dams during the last week of gestation and postnatal daily handling of rat pups during the first 3 weeks of life were used as two environmental manipulations.

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One thought on “Five Articles on Anxiety

  1. Re: “Anxiety and its Effect on Decision-Making” –

    As an individual who suffers from chronic, unreasonable anxiety, I found this interesting. Certainly my decision-making abilities are hindered during a period of anxiety. I have found myself frozen in front of the microwave, trying to decide whether to put a plate in for 30 seconds or 60 seconds – because if I do it for 60 seconds the food might explode and make the microwave messy, and if I do it for 30 seconds it might not be warm enough. The anxiety paralyzes me! Thankfully I am on some good medication for controlling it now. It was interesting to learn how the brain handles anxiety for decision-making purposes.

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