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Anxiety Disorder: Current and Other Promising Treatments

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By Holadoctor



Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions. Its high prevalence makes anxiety a public health burden that affects societies at every level, not only in  health care but also financially, since it is a leading cause of disability.

 In Latin America, more than 2% of the adult population suffers from anxiety. This is the second greatest number of cases after depression, which is actually interrelated with anxiety. Women are more than twice as likely as men to experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

In the United States alone, some 40 million adults ages 18 and older live with anxiety, and although it is highly treatable, only around 36% receive treatment

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that worldwide, 301 million people have anxiety, including 58 million children.

One of the groups with high anxiety levels is older adults. Symptoms are often misinterpreted as “age-related,” making diagnosis and access to treatment elusive.

These disorders develop as a result of a complex set of risk factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry
  • Personality
  • Life events that may trigger them

Although there are traditional treatments that have been used for years to treat anxiety, research is now underway on the potential members of a new generation of drugs. Some of these studies are:

SRX246

This involves a small molecule, vasopressin antagonist which reduced levels of anxiety, stress, aggression, and depression in an experimental model in humans. It is considered a promising candidate not only for anxiety but also for post-traumatic stress disorder and anger disorders.

MM-120

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved phase 2 trials with this medication, which will be completed in August 2023. It is a formulation of LSD for therapeutic use that has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms of anxiety. Interest in LSD for the treatment of psychological conditions goes back to 1950, but in recent years there has been renewed interest in this particular drug.

Aloradine

This is a nasal spray for the treatment of social anxiety disorder. The tests performed on women included a test in which they had to speak in public.

This medicine would have fewer side effects and fewer interactions with other drugs.

GB18

Some scientists believe that the essential active ingredient for treating anxiety may be found in a tree called Galbulimima belgraveana, which is only found in New Guinea and Australia. Local indigenous people have used the trunks and leaves of this tree in their traditional medicine for centuries.

Now, scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have isolated 40 unique chemicals from the tree. One of them is GB18, which is being studied as a possible asset in the treatment of anxiety.

The Various Forms of Anxiety

Sometimes, anxiety can be part of a moment in life. People can feel anxiety when they have an exam coming up, when they get married, or when they face a problem at work or with their family.

This kind of anxiety can be defined as a nervous moment, and it is overcome once the conflict is resolved.

However, if anxiety becomes a constant, seriously affecting family life, relationships, and everyday work or tasks, it may be an anxiety disorder, which is a very different condition.

The American Psychological Association (APA) explains that the term anxiety disorder is an umbrella term covering different types of disorders. These include:

Agoraphobia. Fear of open spaces or outdoor social gatherings, in which the person feels insecure and embarrassed. The person therefore seeks to avoid these places, and in its extreme form, the phobia prevents him or her from leaving home.

Generalized anxiety. This occurs when the person simply fears everything, and every life situation, even small activities such as going to the supermarket, triggers anxiety. This type of anxiety disorder is often accompanied by depression.

Anxiety due to a medical condition. This occurs when the person feels an intense sense of anxiety as a result of a medical diagnosis. The psychological reaction may be associated not only with a serious illness such as news about a cancer, but with a minor condition.

Panic disorder. These are sudden episodes of panic in which the person loses control of him or herself. The person has difficulty breathing and has uncontrollable fear. It causes immediate physical effects, such as shortness of breath, tachycardia, and the urge to vomit.

Social phobia (or social anxiety disorder). The person does not tolerate being in any kind of social situation, especially those involving many people. She or he fears being watched, judged, or mocked.

Separation anxiety disorder. This occurs in children, who often feel excessive levels of anxiety when they must leave their parents for daily activities such as going to school.

Addiction anxiety. This occurs in people suffering from drug addiction. The lack of the drug, for example during rehabilitation, causes the withdrawal syndrome that triggers anxiety.

Specific phobias. For example, fear of flying; fear of heights; fear of certain animals, such as spiders, snakes, and even dogs; fear of blood; and fear of injections.

Traditional Treatment of Anxiety

Medication and therapy are usually combined to treat this type of disorder.

Talk therapy is a good step for people with an anxiety disorder diagnosis. So is cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches patients resources and ways to redirect their anxiety and keep it under control.

This therapy also helps patients develop and practice social skills, an essential step in getting their lives back on track.

Medication does not cure anxiety disorders, but it does help to improve symptoms. The following are the three families of drugs used to treat anxiety:

Anti-anxiety medications. These help reduce anxiety symptoms, panic attacks, and uncontrollable fears linked to anxiety. The most popular medications that achieve these objectives are benzodiazepines.

One of the problems with this type of drugs found that people who take them can develop tolerance over time, forcing them to take higher doses. This can lead to dependence. To prevent this unwanted effect, they are normally prescribed for short periods of time.

Antidepressants. These medications can also help treat anxiety. They have been shown to have the ability to control certain chemical reactions in the brain linked to stress and mood swings.

Beta-blockers. This family of drugs is primarily used to treat high blood pressure. But they are also effective in treating the symptoms of anxiety attacks, such as heart palpitations, tremors, and a symptom hated by anxiety sufferers: becoming extremely flushed.

Anxiety disorders should be treated under the strict supervision of a specialized physician.

In addition to medical and psychological therapy, experts advise effective stress management and joining support groups. They ensure that listening to the experiences of peers helps to improve the clinical and psychological picture.

This story was produced using content from original studies or reports and from other medical research, as well as health and public health sources, highlighted in related links throughout the article.

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