– Researchers have found the origin of anxiety in the hippocampus of mice. This has far-reaching effects on how we look at and treat anxiety in humans. That’s what I’m talking about today. I’m Doctor Tracey Marks, a psychiatrist, and this channel is about mental health education and self-improvement. If you don’t want to miss a video, click subscribe and the notification bell. Today’s video is more of a newsflash than a how-to video. But I do think it’s important because of how it affects our attitude about anxiety. Anxiety can be very crippling because you can struggle with feeling weak and unable to deal with life because you can’t stop being anxious. Well, this research gives us some evidence that anxiety is controlled by certain cells in the brain, and is not based on how strong of a person you are. I have the reference to the research article in the description of this video. Neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center and University of California San Francisco collaborated on a study and discovered that certain brain cells in the hippocampus of mice fire when the mice became anxious and those cells would trigger anxiety behaviors. Mice are used a lot to study human behavior because their brains are similar enough to humans that we can translate what we see in them to us. The cells were found in the hippocampus, which is an area of the brain where we form memories. So here we have a connection between anxiety and memory, and here’s how they discovered this: they inserted small microscopes into the hippocampus of the mice. They watched the mice move around freely in their surroundings, while looking at their brains. Mice feel threatened when they are in open spaces with no protection around them. So when they put the mice into this kind of situation, they would exhibit their usual fear behavior, and then the researchers noticed certain areas of the brain that lit up and were more active than other cells. They used a beam of light to turn the cells on and off. Then they experimented with turning the cells off and putting the mice back into the open space. With the cells turned off, the mice were not fearful. They would easily walk around, away from their protective area with no problem. When the cells were turned back on, they would become fearful and retreat. Then they performed the opposite experiment. This time, they kept the mice in their cozy area and activated the anxiety cell. The mice became anxious and fearful, even though they were in their protected area. So by turning on the anxiety cell, the researchers could make the mice anxious, even when they had no reason to feel anxious. If you’ve ever experienced generalized anxiety disorder, isn’t that what it’s like? You can have a panic attack and have no idea why you’re feeling that way or why you’re anxious. There’s a couple of reasons this research excited me. One is that it adds some legitimacy to the idea that anxiety disorders have something real behind them. We know that with anxiety, you get elevated levels of cortisol and adrenaline, but that’s the secondary downstream effect. This discovery takes us to where things start upstream. Keep in mind, we’re talking about anxiety disorders, not situational anxiety that you might experience if your house were on fire, or if you were told you had to take a test in an hour and you weren’t prepared for it. This is for conditions, like generalized anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder. The second reason this excites me is because with this kind of information, we can develop new approaches to treating anxiety. If the researchers can find a specific receptor on the cell that’s unique to that cell, then it’s possible to create a drug that targets that receptor in a way that it reduces anxiety. Now, we’re a long way from off from developing that kind of treatment, but these kinds of discoveries start the process of creating new treatments. If you suffer with anxiety, check out my anxiety playlist. Also, I did a video on mindfulness and depression. However, mindfulness can also help with anxiety. And with that video, I included a mindfulness audio that you can download to help you with anxiety. If you’re part of my email community, you would have already gotten that audio and that video published. I also did a progressive muscle relaxation audio as well, that you would have gotten if you were part of the email community. So join the email community, and then you’ll get these things automatically. That’s it, take care.
Researchers have found the origin of anxiety in the hippocampus of mice. This has far-reaching effects on how we look at and treat anxiety in humans.
Neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center and University of California San Francisco collaborated on a study and discovered certain brain cells in the hippocampus of mice that fires when the mouse becomes anxious and triggers certain anxiety behaviors.
In this video, I discuss the details of their findings and discuss the implications this has for future anxiety treatment.
Mindfulness and neuroplasticity
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Jimenez JC, Su K, Goldberg AR, et al. Anxiety Cells in a Hippocampal-Hypothalamic Circuit. Neuron. 2018;97(3):670-683.e6.
Visit Dr. Tracey Marks online at: http://markspsychiatry.com