Scientists Discover How Stress And Anxiety Can Lead To Depression

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Scientists already know there’s a link between stress, anxiety and depression but now recent molecular biology research is leading us closer to the exact nature of that link and for the first time a study has identified the biological connection in the brain between stress, anxiety and depression.

Using a behavioural mouse model and a series of molecular experiments, Stephen Ferguson from the University of Western Ontario who led the study, and his colleagues were able to reveal the connection pathway involved between stress, anxiety and depression and show how stress and anxiety can actually cause depression.

At the same time the researchers were able to test a molecular inhibitor developed by Ferguson which may lead to a new generation of drugs and better treatment of mental health problems like depression and anxiety related disorders in the future.

“people have known for a long time that stress is one of the predisposing factors for anxiety and depression, what we haven’t known is how these stress receptors talk to the receptors that mediate anxiety and depression.

“What we found is that if you activate the corticotrophin releasing factor you can increase the amount of serotonin receptors on the cell surface so that you get increased synaptic transmission and a better signal from one neuron to the next that when uncontrolled can lead to anxiety and depression” said Ferguson.

Although there isn’t a single identifiable cause of depression, there is known to be a link between stressful life experiences and depression and stress and anxiety often go hand in hand with depression and can make the symptoms of depression much worse.

This latest research may bring us nearer to a clearer understanding of the mechanisms behind the development of depression and enable better treatment options.

Statistics show that around one in four people are suffering from depression or an anxiety related disorder at any one time. The main treatment at the moment involves anti depressant drugs of which there are several different types. What may suit one individual may have no effect on another so it can be a case of trying different drugs until one is found that is effective. This is not ideal.

The research was conducted by the Robarts Research Institute in the University of Western Ontario in collaboration with Hymie Anisman at Carleton University and was funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The findings have been published online in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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