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How is depression and anxiety inherited?

Did you know that depression and anxiety can be inherited from our parents? And a new study has found exactly how that happens.

What did the study involve?

Monkeys. The study involved monkeys. Rhesus monkeys, to be specific. Why? Because just like humans they have anxiety tendencies. When exposed to slightly stressful scenarios in which the monkey feels uncomfortable, it will freeze up and experience a sharp spike in hormones.
Severely sensitive children have the exact same response. At least that’s the word from Dr. Ned Kalin from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Delving deeper, Kalin and his team discovered that the parts of the brain responsible for anxiety are heritable.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that overactivity of those brain areas are inherited and “directly linked to the later life risk to develop anxiety and depression.”
As explains, “about 30 percent of the variation in early anxiety is explained by family history.”
Kalin said, “This is a big step in understanding the neural underpinnings of inherited anxiety and begins to give us more selective targets for treatment.”

How does the study help with anxiety treatment?

The researchers pointed out that anxiety is essential in evolutionary terms, because it alerts us to danger, triggering the fight or flight impulse. However, if our anxiety-centric brain circuits go into overdrive, ongoing anxiety and depression can result.
Kalin explains, “Now that we know where to look, we can develop a better understanding of the molecular alterations that give rise to anxiety-related brain function.
Our genes shape our brains to help make us who we are.”
Any study that helps us better understand anxiety and depression is a valuable one indeed. If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, seek medical attention immediately and discuss the treatment options available to you.

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