What Does The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Or Anxiety, Contribute To?


While incredibly common, mental health problems are not well understood. About 1 in 5 people in the United States struggle with a mental illness, according to the National Institute for Mental Health.

Around half trusted The U.S. population would somewhere in their lives encounter a mental health status. Medicines and speech therapy are helpful to many individuals, but it is difficult to understand the physiological origins of these disorders.

Overlap and co-morbidity

There are separate signs, but they overlap greatly, of post-traumatic stress disorder (TSSD), anxiety disorder, and mood disorders such as major depressive disease and bipolar disorder. Somebody with mild anxiety, for example, could have depression symptoms, and somebody with severe depression could be more depressed. Scientists have noticed that these conditions often occur in tandem, which they call comorbidity, derived by Rubicon Project. Reading from the researchers of the recent study:

“Up to 90 per cent of patients with an anxiety disorder meet with compete mood disorder criteria, and up to 70 per cent of people with mood disorders meet life-long anxiety disorder criteria.”

9,000 brain scans

This co-morbidity and similarity in symptoms means that there may be clinical similarities between conditions. A recent study in JAMA Trusted Source for Psychiatry aims at defining these common neural characteristics. Authors from various institutions in the United States, Italy and Germany determined that brain scans from previous studies could be obtained and analyzed. We wanted to provide a better picture of what is happening in those minds. To be analyzed, 367 studies are tested for functional MRIs (F MRI), including information from 4,507 individuals with mental health conditions and 4,755 healthy controls.

Different disease joint features

 The researchers examined brain regions, which in participants with mental health conditions were either more active (hyperactive) or less active (hypoactive) than in the control group. The researchers found that certain characteristics of brain activity are consistent with mood, PTSD and anxiety symptoms, as predicted.

Perhaps unexpectedly, when they searched for hypoactive regions, they found the most significant differences between the two groups. The researchers describe their key results:

They are critical as they all engage in emotional and cognitive regulation. In general, they play an important part in preventing and moving to new cognitive and behavioral processes.

Senior writer Dr. Sophia explains: “The results of brain imaging illustrate clinically how people with mood and anxiety disorders seem to adjust themselves with negative mood. They also confirm the perception of patients not being able to stop and turn away from negative thoughts and feelings. The hypo activity of these areas can clarify how locked into states happen in both thoughts and behaviors. In other words, people with these conditions found it hard to change between jobs because they needed to move away from negative thoughts.

Less hyperactivity

 Hyperactivity in certain areas of the brain was also reported by scientists. The variations are however less pronounced than in the hypoactive regions. Most involved in individuals with mood disorders, PTSD, and anxiety disorders are the anterior cingulate cortex, left amygdala and thalamus in general. Both areas are essential for emotional thinking and emotional processing.

For example, the Cingular cortex contributes to the control of emotions and perception, and the amygdala allows people to form and retrieve emotional memories, among other functions. Although this study is the largest of its kind, some limitations still remain. As the researchers clarify, for example, only adults are targeted. For children and older adults, differences in brain function may not be real.

“To order to achieve improved medical results and to mitigate or avoid active disease in the general population, the researchers hope that these brain regions will act in future as targets for intervention.”

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About the Author: Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on the Guardian's Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: peter@thehearus.com