The onsets of anxiety disorders are typically seen at the start of adolescence. But, everybody knows that. The brain is maturing and hormones are flying everywhere. But, a recent study is showing that there's a gene that could account for why we see anxiety with these shifts.
Anxiety may be caused by your genetic makeup. Researchers interested in why anxiety peaks in adolescence have found that 20% of people that carry a specific variation of a gene are more prone to anxiety (thanks Mom and Dad). And the other 80% might actually be protected by the common variant of the gene.
Research by Dylan Gee, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, found that the gene that regulates the endocannabinoid system, which controls enzyme receptors that are involved in regulating appetite, pain and mood increase during adolescence, has a variant that affects brain development differently.
According to a report on the research by Live Science, "the stronger connection between frontal and limbic areas might mean that in these people, the frontal areas are better at regulating fear responses in the limbic areas, effectively controlling anxiety levels."
About 25% of people will develop an anxiety disorder in their teen years. These disorders are treated by a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (which focuses on building a positive mindset) and SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that increase the level of serotonin in the brain).
That's the current gold standard of treatment. And while these findings are still early, if confirmed further, they could help researchers fine-tune the biological targets that they look at when developing new medications for anxiety, and help optimize treatments.
Lead Image Credit: Practical Cures (flickr.com Creative Commons)