Neurobiology of Anxiety Essay Example

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Neurobiology of Anxiety

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Neurobiology of Anxiety

Neurobiology is the study of nervous system cells, and how they are organised to come up with functional circuits responsible for processing and mediating behaviour (Stein & Steckler, 2010). Consequently, anxiety can be termed as one of the prominent adaptive features manifested by living beings as they evolve. It is a psychological, physiological and behavioural state that is induced in living things when their well-being or survival is under actual or potential threat (Steimer, 2002). Anxiety forms a highly prevalent and disabling group of psychiatric problems calling for critical measures to overcome and mitigate their effects. The disorders of anxiety are highly comorbid with each other, as well as with major descriptive depressive disorders (Martin, Ressler, Binder & Nemeroff, 2009). This essay evaluates the aspect of neurobiology of anxiety in respect to understanding critically the case scenario under consideration.

The disorders of anxiety have the characteristic of various alternations in the brain morphology and activity, as well as neuroendocrine disruptions. According to Garakani, Mathew and Charney (2006), the occurrence of fear conditioning is orchestrated by the pairing of conditioned stimulus and an aversive stimulus. This results to a conditioned fear response in the absence of unconditioned stimulus. Initially, aetiology of anxiety disorders has been established via monoamine hypothesis, but in the recent times, it has been based on glutamate (Mathew, Price & Charney, 2008). The imbalances occurring in the neurotransmitter systems are considered in this context. Internal desynchronisation of information characterises the conditions that bring up great alterations in the structure, responsiveness and function of the brain (Stein & Steckler, 2010).

Studies pertaining to neurobiology of anxiety have been based on the role of amygdala, the reciprocal connections existing in between amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, and alterations in interoceptive processing by the anterior insula (Stein & Steckler, 2010). Disorders of anxiety are characterised by changes in diverse range of neurochemical systems which bring up the idea of ample original targets for drug therapies. Mathew, Price and Charney (2008) state that corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) concentrations are raised in a group of anxiety disorders bringing up the idea of potential utility of CRF receptor antagonists. The occurrence of disorders of anxiety is brought about by overactive amygdala. People with PTSD manifest more active signals in the amygdala (Garakani, Mathew & Charney, 2006). To prevent trauma-related anxiety occurrence, blocking memory-enhancing effects of stress hormones pharmacologically gives great promise. Such hormones include glucocorticoids and noradrenaline (Steimer, 2002).

In conclusion, it is evident that the aetiology of anxiety is a complex psycho-biological approach combining cognition, biology, learning and predispositions (Stein & Steckler, 2010). Thus, it is crucial to understand that it is mostly impossible to find the causes of anxiety within linear processes where one aspect leads to another. Rather, speaking of causation, it is necessary to discover complex, interactive, and mutual processes.


Garakani, A., Mathew, S. J., & Charney, D. S. (2006). Neurobiology of anxiety disorders and implications for treatment, Mt Sinai J Med. 73(7), 941-949.

Martin, E. I., Ressler, K. J. Binder, E., & Nemeroff, C. B. (2009). The neurobiology of anxiety disorders: brain imaging, genetics, and psycho-neuroendocrinology. Psychiatr Clin North Am, 32(3), 549-575, doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2009.05.004.

Mathew, S. J., Price, R. B., & Charney, D. S. (2008). Recent advances in the neurobiology of anxiety disorders: Implications for novel therapeutics. Am J Med Genet Part C Semin Med Genet, 148C, 89-98.

Steimer, T. (2002). The biology of fear- and anxiety-related behaviours, Dialogues Clin Neurosci, 4(3), 231-249.

Stein, M. B., & Steckler, T. (Eds.) (2010). Behavioural neurobiology of anxiety and its treatment, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.