Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of The Blaylock Wellness Report newsletter, is a nationally recognized board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author, and lecturer. He attended the Louisiana State University School of Medicine and completed his internship and neurological residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. For 26 years, practiced neurosurgery in addition to having a nutritional practice. He recently retired from his neurosurgical duties to devote his full attention to nutritional research. Dr. Blaylock has authored four books, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life, Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients, and his most recent work, Cellular and Molecular Biology of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Find out what others are saying about Dr. Blaylock by clicking here.
Tags: Anxiety and Your Brain

Anxiety and Your Brain

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Thursday, 21 Apr 2011 03:44 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Anxiety entails a wide assortment of related symptoms like restlessness and an inability to stop worrying. As with other disorders in the body, inflammation plays a major role with anxiety, interfering with normal brain neurotransmitter function.

Anxiety and depression often occur together, as both are related to excessive brain glutamate levels and immunoexcitotoxicity. Glutamate is the main excitation neurotransmitter for the brain. Other neurotransmitters can also cause excitation, such as purines, acetylcholine, dopamine, and, in excess, even serotonin. But those are all relatively minor players when it comes to anxiety.

Brain function is a matter of opposing forces. There are excitation neurotransmitters, and there are also brain-calming neurotransmitters. Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) is the brain’s main calming neurotransmitter. It is the balance between the two opposing neurotransmitters that allows us to function.

Functional brain scanning studies have shown that anxiety arises from a number of interacting parts of the brain, mainly the amygdala, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. The amygdala, an almond-shaped collection of cells and complex pathways, controls fear and anger. These circuits are dense with glutamate receptors, and excess glutamate can trigger all of the symptoms of anxiety.

Inflammation's role with anxiety is extensive. It not only triggers excitotoxicity, but it also lowers brain GABA effectiveness, thus making the brain more susceptible to emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. The amygdala also contains a number of receptors for inflammatory cytokines, meaning that inflammation can worsen the fear and anger that we feel.

Researchers have examined the relationship between socioeconomic factors, education levels, and chronic inflammation, and found that lower education levels were strongly associated with inflammation, anxiety, and depression. Higher incomes were protective only in that they were usually associated with higher education levels. (For a detailed discussion on inflammation and its role in many diseases, see my newsletter "Inflammation: The Real Cause of Most Diseases.")



Even though education was a powerful protective force, other factors also played a role, including healthy living, obesity, and presence of chronic illness. Researchers also found that low-income people who were happy did not have high levels of inflammation. So it actually appears that the key factor regarding less inflammation was happiness, even in the face of adversity.

Stress plays a major role in chronic inflammation and hence anxiety and depression. Stress rapidly increases circulating levels of inflammatory cytokines, and some people appear to be hyper responders — that is, they produce a lot of inflammatory chemicals when stressed. Not only are these people at a greater risk of suffering from anxiety and depression, they also have a higher risk of stroke and heart attacks. (For more information, read my report "Overcome Depression and Its Deadly Effects.")



For more of Dr. Blaylock’s weekly tips, go here to view the archive.


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Anxiety entails a wide assortment of related symptoms like restlessness and an inability to stop worrying. As with other disorders in the body, inflammation plays a major role with anxiety, interfering with normal brain neurotransmitter function. Anxiety and depression...
Anxiety and Your Brain
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2011-44-21
Thursday, 21 Apr 2011 03:44 PM
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