Inflammation As A Physiological Cause Of Anxiety:
For some, a root cause of depression and/or anxiety can be chronic inflammation. Some people are just wired to produce a higher inflammatory response, and this can cause the physical alterations linked to anxiety.
This is such a huge topic, Ive created a whole article on: Is Inflammation Causing Your Depression or Anxiety
A Combination Of Genetics And Life Events Mainly Cause Anxiety
“The main underlying core belief of any anxiety disorder is an exaggerated sense of vulnerability in the world of yourself or the people you care about,” Touroni says. “Fundamentally, it’s about understanding whether your experiences led you to develop a belief that the world is a dangerous place.”
In particular, child sexual abuse and family violence may lead to an increased risk for anxiety. Moreover, having three or more adverse childhood experiences these are somewhat traumatic events for children, ranging from divorced parents to abuse is associated with a higher likelihood of developing anxiety.
Different childhood experiences at home, school and elsewhere can help explain why some family members might develop anxiety while others don’t.
For example, a 2018 study followed 49,524 twins for 25 years. The researchers found that as twins aged and their environments became more different, the influence of heritability on their chance of developing anxiety decreased. In short: even though the twins shared genetics, their risk factors for anxiety were affected more by their environment than their genes.
In the end, there’s no concrete set of factors that can predict if you will develop anxiety, or not.
Anxious Brains Are Inherited Study Finds
08 July 2015
The brain function that underlies anxiety and depression is inherited, a new study finds but there is still plenty of space for experience and environment to reduce the risk of a full-blown mental disorder.
The research focused on rhesus monkeys. Like humans, some young rhesus monkeys have what’s called an “anxious temperament.” Expose them to a mildly stressful situation, like being in a room with a stranger, and the monkeys will stop moving and stop vocalizing while their stress hormones skyrocket. Extremely shy children do the same, said Dr. Ned Kalin, a psychiatrist at the University of WisconsinMadison.
Kalin and his colleagues scanned the brains of young monkeys, anxious and not, and found three brain regions associated with anxiety that also showed evidence of heritability. About 30 percent of the variation in early anxiety is explained by family history, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Anxiety and depression are widespread disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health , about 18 percent of U.S. adults have experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year, and about 7 percent have had a major depressive episode. The average age of onset for anxiety disorders is 11.
Roots Of Major Depression Revealed In All Their Genetic Complexity
A massive genome-wide association study of genetic and health records of 1.2 million people from four separate data banks has identified 178 gene variants linked to major depression, a disorder that will affect as many as one in every five people during their lifetimes.
The results of the study, led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs researchers at Yale University School of Medicine and University of California-San Diego , may one day help identify people most at risk of depression and related psychiatric disorders and help doctors prescribe drugs best suited to treat the disorder.
For the study, the research team analyzed medical records and genomes collected from more than 300,000 participants in the V.A.s Million Veteran Program , one of the largest and most diverse databanks of genetic and medical information in the world.
These new data were combined in a meta-analysis with genetic and health records from the UK Biobank, FinnGen , and results from the consumer genetics company 23andMe. This part of the study included 1.2 million participants. The researchers crosschecked their findings from that analysis with an entirely separate sample of 1.3 million volunteers from 23andMe customers.
When the two sets of data from the different sources were compared, genetic variants linked to depression replicated with statistical significance for most of the markers tested.
The Genetics Of Depression
The genetics of depression is a complex and difficult topic. Whilst twin studies estimate heritability at around 35-40%, it has been difficult to tie down the specific genes involved. Many academics in the field have considered that the primary reason for this has been that such complex disorders are affected by thousands of genetic variants, each of which has a very small effect. This paper is part of a new generation of studies harnessing the power of massive national studies to try to tie down some specific details of the genes involved .
The main goal was to explore genetic variants associated with three differing definitions of depression:
The reason for choosing these different definitions was so that the authors could explore whether the influence of genetic factors was the same, and the same genes were involved in all three definitions.
Major Depression And Genetics
How common is major depression? At least 10% of people in the U.S. will experience major depressive disorder at some point in their lives. Two times as many women as men experience major depression.
How do we know that genes play a role in causing depression? Scientists look at patterns of illness in families to estimate their heritability, or roughly what percentage of their cause is due to genes. To do this we find people with the disease who have a twin, and then find out whether the twin is also ill. Identical twins share 100% of their genes, while non-identical twins share 50% of their genes. If genes are part of the cause, we expect a patients identical twin to have a much higher risk of disease than a patients non-identical twin. That is the case for major depression. Heritability is probably 40-50%, and might be higher for severe depression.
This could mean that in most cases of depression, around 50% of the cause is genetic, and around 50% is unrelated to genes . Or it could mean that in some cases, the tendency to become depressed is almost completely genetic, and in other cases it is not really genetic at all. We dont know the answer yet.
We can also look at adoption studies, to see whether an adopted persons risk of depression is greater if a biological parent had depression. This also seems to be the case.
However, many people who develop major depression did not have this type of personality before their depression started.
Inflammatory Cytokines Cause Behavior Changes:
Behavior changes when you are getting sick youre tired, irritable, and dont want to interact with peopleIf you have kids, you learn to spot these signs of fighting off an illness very quickly. Even in pets, you will see that they withdraw, sleep, and avoid others when they are sick. Appetite changes and often they are hyper-vigilant as well.
Researchers call this sickness behavior, and seems as something apparent across all species of animals.
Sickness behavior makes complete sense evolutionarily when you think about it. The best way not to infect your family is to go and curl up in a corner and avoid everyone.
We have always known that illness causes behavior changes, but the connection between psychiatric illness and inflammatory response was made crystal clear in the 1980s. Interferon-alpha, an inflammatory cytokine that fights viruses, was first used in the 80s as a treatment for chronic hepatitis. Some patients reacted to the interferon-alpha with psychiatric side effects including depression, emotional instability, paranoia, agitation, and suicidal potential. These side effects occurred in patients on the highest doses of interferon-alpha, and reducing the dose took away the psychiatric problems.
Oxytocin: Anxiety When Separated From Loved Ones
Oxytocin is a hormone and a neuropeptide researchers link to both emotional functioning and social empathy. In women, large quantities of oxytocin are released during childbirth and breastfeeding and are part of the mother-child bonding.
Anyone who has had kids understands that there is a connection where a mother can recognize their own babys cry. In fact, oxytocin is a big part of a mothers neuroendocrine response to their babys crying. Researchers study this by brain imaging using an fMRI on mothers listening to crying babies. It is a built-in, physiological response based on oxytocin.
Going beyond mother-infant bonding, oxytocin, in general, plays a role in social attachment and trust. In fact, if you give normal adults oxytocin intranasally , there is a substantial increase in trust amongst people, which increases the benefits of social interaction. If you want to get into the geeky details on what brain imaging shows with intranasal oxytocin, here is a new study illustrating the fMRI changes in activity levels in certain areas of the brain. Its pretty cool
Stressful situations cause the body to increase oxytocin, which acts quickly to decrease anxiety. But oxytocin creates an anti-anxiety effect only under stressful conditions. In other words, boosting oxytocin when youre not stressed doesnt change anything. It is only a chill pill in situations that have your body on alert.
Genetic And Epigenetic Consequence Of Early
- Brain Research Institute, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia, Bandar Sunway, Malaysia
Early-life adversity caused by poor social bonding and deprived maternal care is known to affect mental wellbeing and physical health. It is a form of chronic social stress that persists because of a negative environment, and the consequences are long-lasting on mental health. The presence of social stress during early life can have an epigenetic effect on the body, possibly resulting in many complex mental disorders, including depression in later life. Here, we review the evidence for early-life social stress-induced epigenetic changes that modulate juvenile and adult social behavior . This review has a particular emphasis on the interaction between early-life social stress and genetic variation of serotonin associate genes including the serotonin transporter gene , which are key molecules involved in depression.
Does Heritability Of Depression Affect Children
People with depression might be concerned they will pass on the condition to their children. While there could be a heritable component to depression, genetics is not the only determinant. Other factors contribute to risk, while some can be protective.
A child who has a parent with depression may have a genetic predisposition but will not necessarily become depressed. Other factors, including environmental factors or triggers, are also involved.
On the other hand, a child who does not have a family member with depression and is not genetically predisposed to the condition may become depressed if they are exposed to a triggering event such as experiencing a trauma.
Even if depression doesnt run in your family, all parents and adult caretakers need to know the signs of depression in children and teens.
Demystifying The Depression Gene
Having a genetic variant can make it more likelybut not definitivethat you will develop a condition associated with that variant.
If a gene associated with a specific condition is altered, it may be more likely to contribute to the development of that condition. A benign genetic variant is less likely to influence the condition than a pathogenic variant.
In some cases, researchers identify a genetic variant but dont know what effect it has. These variants are referred to as having “unknown significance.”
Several large genome-wide studies have proposed potential genetic connections to major depressive disorder. In 2017, researchers identified two new genetic variants associated with depression.
A 2018 study published in the journal Nature Genetics identified several genetic variants that appeared to be associated with symptoms of depression and, in some cases, physical differences in the brain.
While the research has provided valuable insight into the potential heritability of mental illness, no studies have definitively identified a single gene as the cause of depression.
Scientists believe it’s more likely that all the different genes and genetic variants each make a small contribution to a person’s overall risk. Research has indicated that genes may be passed down in different ways , which is another factor that could affect someone’s genetic predisposition to depression.
Get Comprehensive Treatment At A Residential Treatment Center
When you enter residential treatment, you surround yourself in a comprehensive healing environment. Youll receive the care you need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And youll get all the tools you need to stop an emotional crisis and to make lasting progress.
When you arrive, youll receive a full assessment of your condition. Then, a treatment plan will be designed specifically for your needs. A psychiatrist will prescribe any medications you may need, or adjust a current prescription that isnt working. You may receive antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs that can make your symptoms more manageable. Then youll begin a variety of healing therapies.
Youll have private, one-on-one therapy with your own therapist. Family members can visit and engage in family therapy sessions, and you can participate in group therapy, where youll meet other people dealing with the same feelings and problems youre facing. Holistic therapies like music and art therapy or yoga can help you work through complicated feelings and find inner peace and stability. Thats the key to comprehensive residential treatmentyoure healing yourself as a whole person, not just the part of you that is depressed.
What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk Of Developing A Mental Illness
Mental illness may run in families, but it doesnt mean that you or someone in your family will definitely become unwell.
If you have a family history of mental illness it can still help to take good care of your mental health. There are things you can do to look after your mental health. Below are some steps you can take.
Having a healthy diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is good for your mental and physical health.
Food can have a lasting effect on mental health. Your brain needs different nutrients to stay healthy and function well.
To help improve mental wellbeing, you should try to eat a balanced and varied diet.
If you are having issues maintaining a balanced diet, you can seek help from your GP.
Mindfulness is becoming more aware of your thoughts, feelings, body and world around you. Mindfulness can help improve mental wellbeing. It can also help you to notice signs of stress or anxiety and deal with them better.
The first step to mindfulness is to remind yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body and the world around you.
Other ways to practice mindfulness include picking a regular time each day where you try and be more aware of yourself and your surroundings. You could also try something new to help you notice the world around you in a new way. For example, you could try taking a new route to work.
Getting regular exercise
You can find more information about Mental Illness and being active by clicking here.
Getting enough sleep
Peripheral Stress Markers And Psychophysiology
Further association studies have combined candidate markers with peripheral, eg, physiological, readouts as relevant intermediate phenotypes of GAD.
The 5-HTTLPR S allele has been shown to predict higher salivary cortisol levels in an interaction with a latent anxiety trait in older but not younger adults.
Furthermore, a peripheral biological stress marker has been explored by measuring leukocyte telomere length in internalizing disorders in a prospective longitudinal fashion, with persistence of internalizing disorder negatively predicting telomere length. This still remained significant after accounting for psychiatric medication, substance dependence, childhood maltreatment, physical health, and socioeconomic status. GAD diagnoses predicted a more severe telomere erosion than depression and posttraumatic stress disorder across a monitored time interval of 12 years in males, but not in females.
Depression And Anxiety: Inflammation As A Root Cause
Research over the past two decades clearly shows a causal link between increased inflammatory markers and depression.
Inflammation may be a root cause of depression for some people.
Theories on depression and anxiety change over the years. Researchers think that depression, anxiety, and mood issues can have multiple causes. For a good percentage of people with mood disorders, though, addressing inflammation as an underlying factor helps to resolve depression or anxiety.
Inflammation-driven depression is characterized by:
- sleep problems
- changes in appetite
While these inflammation-driven symptoms are statistically significant in research studies, they are really general and seem like they could apply to pretty much anyone with mood issues
Cause or effect? Research shows a significant increase in inflammatory cytokine levels in some depression patients. This is interesting, but it doesnt tell us whether depression causes inflammation or if inflammation causes depression. Or if both simply exist together.
So how can we narrow it down? You probably know where Im headed here.
Genetics: One way to determine if inflammation is a root cause of depression is to look at the genetic variants that increase susceptibility to depression or anxiety. Sure enough, research shows a bunch of genetic risk factors for mood disorders are in inflammation-related genes. Deleting those inflammation genes causes animals to be resistant to stress-induced depression.
Common Causes Of Increased Inflammation:
While this is a huge topic, when it comes to inflammation and depression, there are a couple of key lifestyle factors that may come into play and explain why depression and anxiety are so prevalent today. The following four factors are common causes of elevated cytokines .
#1 Gut dysbiosis and increased permeability: Your intestinal barrier keeps the microbes in your gut separate from the rest of your body. Bacteria can make you sick, but the microbes in your gut microbiome are also essential for good health. The difference between good gut microbes and getting sick is the barrier that keeps the microbes in the right place.
Lining your intestines is a mucosal barrier that keeps the gut microbes away from the epithelial cell wall. Those epithelial cells also keep out microbes by being tightly joined together. Reducing the mucosal barrier and/or loosening the tight junctions in your intestinal barrier can increase the number of microbes that your body needs to fight off.
One study on patients with major depressive disorder showed that patients have higher than average activity of the inflammatory markers for dealing with bacteria from the gut.
What can cause gut dysbiosis and increased intestinal permeability? A diet that includes a lot of junk food.
Getting Help And Having Hope
No matter what you or your family has been through, theres hope. Caring mental health professionals are always available to listen to you and offer guidance. The right residential treatment program can provide exactly the supportive environment you need to nurture you through even the darkest depression. Reach out for help today and begin moving forward toward a brighter tomorrow.
Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive residential treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward healing.
What Should I Consider If I Want To Start A Family
If you have a mental illness, and youre thinking of starting a family, you could talk to a professional genetics counsellor.
Genetic counsellors work directly with patients and families. They can give specialist advice and information to people who have relatives with certain health conditions.
If you want to speak to a genetic counsellor, you will need to be referred by a doctor. So, you should speak to your GP or psychiatrist.
Hpa Axis: Cortisol And Stress Response
The HPA axis controls the bodys cortisol release in times of stress. The adrenals release cortisol after exposure to physical or mental stressors. This system works great when you are being chased by a tiger once in a while, but chronically elevated cortisol is linked to a number of health problems including depression.
Altered cortisol levels with low cortisol and a stronger negative feedback loop are found in people with PTSD. While the research is still ongoing, there seems to be a subset of people for whom altered cortisol response is at the root of either their anxiety or depression.
The bodys baseline level of cortisol rises and falls in a circadian rhythm over the course of 24-hours. Having this rhythm in sync with the rest of the body is important for both physical and mental health.
Research shows that people with panic disorder have higher overnight cortisol levels and they have an exaggerated response to novel stressors.
Carbon Dioxide: A Physical Trigger For Panic Attacks For Some
In severe anxiety or panic disorders, people often feel like they are short of breath or suffocating. Interestingly, people with panic disorder also have a heightened sensitivity to carbon dioxide. Most people, when inhaling higher percentages of carbon dioxide dont have a response, but in people with panic disorder, inhaling a higher than normal amount of CO2 can actually trigger a panic attack.
Increasing the CO2 levels in the blood increases the acidity . Researchers theorize a chemical sensor in the amygdala is involved in the detection of pH levels. In mouse studies, inhaled CO2 drops the pH in the amygdala and causes fear behaviors. This is mediated by the acid-sensing ion channel-1a subunit .
Serotonin: Anxiety And Depression
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in mood. This pathway is a common target of antidepressant and antianxiety medications known as SSRIs. Serotonin is also important in gut motility and in sleep .
Researchers still have a lot of questions about how serotonin works in anxiety. The key may be that serotonin acts differently in situations of fear or panic, compared to situations that cause general anxiety.
Several genetic variants in serotonin-related pathways have been linked to PTSD, which is classified as an anxiety disorder.
The Link Between Genetics And Anxiety
For most people, genetic risk for anxiety is less likely to be an on/off switch than a complicated mix of genes that can put you at risk for developing anxiety. Even then your anxiety disorder might be different from your relatives in important ways.
Individuals inherit a predisposition to being an anxious person, about 30 to 40 percent of the variability is related to genetic factors, explains psychologist Amy Przeworski, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
A genetic predisposition to anxiety could start young. Studies have shown that when anxiety develops before age 20, close relatives are more likely to have anxiety as well. A study published in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders underscored that certain anxiety traits correlated with panic disorder are evident by the age of 8.
Researchers have tried to better understand the genetics behind anxiety disorders by looking at whether relatives have the same anxiety disorder. They have found that people are at significantly greater risk for panic disorder if they have a twin who has it and at somewhat greater risk for panic disorder if a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, has it.
The Genetic Basis Of Major Depression
- MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
- E. Van Assche
- Department of Psychiatry, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany
- T. F. M. Andlauer
- Affiliation:Department of Neurology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany
- K. W. Choi
- Affiliation:Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USAPsychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USADepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
- J. J. Luykx
- Affiliation:Department of Psychiatry, UMC Utrecht Brain Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The NetherlandsDepartment of Translational Neuroscience, UMC Utrecht Brain Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The NetherlandsOutpatient Second Opinion Clinic, GGNet Mental Health, Warnsveld, The Netherlands
- E. C. Schulte
- Affiliation:Institute of Psychiatric Phenomics and Genomics , University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, GermanyDepartment of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany
- Y. Lu
- Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden