There seems to be a new named anxiety disorder about the same time the FDA approves a new medication to treat anxiety. Hummm? For those who have ever suffered with any form of anxiety, they know it is real. It involves many different areas of the brain that reflect both the uniqueness of each of these disorders and the features that they have in common.
A deep part of the brain called the amygdala, for example, plays a central role in anxiety, fears, nightmares and general uneasiness. It is a part of what we call the limbic system that warns us when a danger is present in our environment and triggers the fear reaction and then the fight or flight reaction to get us out of trouble. It is therefore no surprise that the central part of the amygdala seems to play an important role in anxiety disorders that involve specific fears, such as phobias. Researchers have also observed that a group of very anxious children had larger amygdalas, on average, than a group of normal children. The amygdala also houses all of our emotional memories, so those with severely troubled pasts can have anxiety originating there.
The hippocampus is another essential limbic structure that specializes in encoding information. Because all old memories depend on the hippocampus, it would be surprising if this structure were not also involved in anxiety disorders that are generated by memories of painful experiences, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Studies show that people who have suffered the stress of incest or military combat have a smaller hippocampus (degenerated). This atrophy of the hippocampus might explain why such people experience explicit memory disturbances, flashbacks, and fragmentary memories of the traumatic events in question.
Inflammation in the hippocampus and/or amygdala is the most common trigger that fires emotional memories, anxiety, phobias, and PTSD. This can come from antigens of a completely separate origin that settle in the blood-supply-rich limbic system. Getting tested for this common cause is paramount in seeing a patient improve as medication simply cover-up the symptoms. There are a multitude of Functional Medicine tests including Kinesiology that can help discover what is at cause in such cases.
Check out our website for more information or read my book, “Help, My Body is Killing Me…” AND “You’re Crazy” available on our website.
As always, I hope this helps.