Serotonin and Anxiety: Here's How They Are Interconnected

Anxiety disorders are complex, influenced by a number of chemical, behavioral, and situational factors. There are several neurotransmitters in the brain that seem to play a role in anxiety, including norepinephrine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Of these, serotonin is perhaps the most well-known, as it is the target of the very commonly prescribed class of antidepressants known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. SSRIs are used to treat both depression and anxiety disorders and are often the first type of drug that will be prescribed to treat anxiety.

Newer groups of drugs, SNRIs or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, selectively inhibit both norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake and are also proving to be effective at treating anxiety disorders.

While it is clear that mood and anxiety are affected by serotonin levels, we don't have a lot of details about exactly why and how. The brain's serotoninergic systems have been implicated in the regulation of appetite, energy, sleep, mood, libido, and cognitive functioning--all areas affected in people with an anxiety disorder. Neuroimaging studies have shown that abnormalities in the serotonergic system are associated with structural and functional alterations in specific areas of the brain.

More recent research into the connection between serotonin and anxiety is suggesting that abnormalities in the serotonin system are just one part of the complex brain chemistry involved in anxiety disorders, and are likely toward the middle or end of the chain of events that occurs in anxious brains. While current medications for anxiety tend to focus on increasing serotonin levels, medications in the future may focus on other molecular targets and enzymes that are closer to the root cause of mental illness.

Photo: Pixabay

Anxiety Support Groups

Latest Post by digby Tue, 11/12/2019 - 5:48pm
Comments: 1
Latest Post by digby Tue, 11/12/2019 - 5:49pm
Comments: 2
Latest Post by MillieM Mon, 11/04/2019 - 3:23pm
Comments: 1
Latest Post by MillieM Mon, 11/04/2019 - 2:58pm
Comments: 2

More Articles

There are side effects to anxiety that we all experience, I call them the aftermath of a stressful and anxiety-ridden period. This aftermath...

The terms anxiety and stress are often used interchangeably, and it is true that they are related conditions with many of the same symptoms....

I subscribe to the Psychotherapy Networker e-newsletter and just read a great article by Nancy Errebo, Psy. D., about using EMDR with a returning...

Anxiety levels can be affected by a number of different physiological disorders, including the common sleep disorder known as sleep apnea....

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain plays a role in mood and anxiety disorders. The most common antidepressants, selective serotonin...

More Articles

When experiencing signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder, as listed below, it is important to provide your doctor with as many specifics as...

While both men and women can experience anxiety and...

The University of Central Florida newspaper published an article about an interesting clinical trial at the UCF Anxiety Disorders Clinic in the...

Part of going to school is taking tests, and you may be one of many students that experience intense test anxiety. This performance anxiety comes...

Aromatherapy for anxiety may be a useful natural remedy in helping ease symptoms. Aroma means a pleasant or agreeable odor arising from plants,...

Self-help books for anxiety are very popular--so popular that the sheer number of books available can be overwhelming. All those choices mean that...

Experiencing anxiety is not a mental health problem. Having what is sometimes called abnormal (neurotic) anxiety can indicate several things,...

The neurotransmitter serotonin has long been implicated in mood and other psychiatric disorders, and people looking to improve their mental health...

While anxiety disorders in children are often overlooked, they are actually the most common childhood psychiatric problem. Children can suffer...

Much of our anxiety rests on assumptions that we have made. We assume the worst possible scenario will come true. We assume we know what others...

Dealing with the anxiety and depression of losing a loved one is difficult and can be hard to manage, but being able to move on from tragedy will...

One of the most prescribed drugs for the treatment of acute anxiety, valium has a host of other uses. It can treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms,...

Stress can strike anyone at any time, but anxiety occurs when stress is present for an extended amount of time, from several months to several...

Anxiety sufferers in the 21st century have a relatively new avenue of help and support: the Internet. As more and more people turn to Google first...

This article was written for Living With Anxiety by Sam Kaplan, a student at Colby College. This is his story of life with a panic disorder....