New pill could beat stress

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Written By:Abbie Smith An anxiety protein in the brain could be the cause for stress, scientists from the University of Leicester are saying. They foun...

Written By: Abbie Smith

An anxiety protein in the brain could be the cause for stress, scientists from the University of Leicester are saying.

They found that the protein neuropsin can turn a healthy dose of anxiety into overwhelmingdepression. It is controlled by the amygdale, a region in the brain which controls our emotions and emotional responses.

When we are put in stressful scenarios the amygdale reacts by increasing its activity and it therefore increases its production of neuropsin.

The researchers are now working towards developing new medication which target the biological pathway of neurospsin, which they think will help to manage problems like anxiety issues and post-traumatic stress syndrome

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During their study they found that while many of us experience traumatic events such as bereavements and broken hearts, only some of us sink into a depression.

It is thought that approximately 20 per cent of the population will suffer from an anxiety disorder at least once in their lives.

The findings have been published in the Nature medical journal, and have announced the discovery of the vitally important and previously unfound pathway that controls our response to stress and traumatic situations.

Dr Robert Pawlak is from the University of Leicester and led the research that took place in the UK. He said: “Stress-related disorders affect a large percentage of the population and generate an enormous personal, social and economic impact.”

“It was previously known that certain individuals are more susceptible to detrimental effects of stress than others.”

He added : “Although the majority of us experience traumatic events, only some develop stress-associated psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder. The reasons for this were not clear.”

The scientists examined the way mice behaved in a maze. They found that stressed animals stayed away from open, illuminated areas in the maze where they felt unsafe.

But when their amygdala proteins were blocked the mice did not display the same traits. They scientists said they seemed to become immune to stress.

Dr Pawlak added: "We are tremendously excited about these findings. We know that all members of the neuropsin pathway are present in the human brain. They may play a similar role in humans and further research will be necessary to examine the potential of intervention therapies for controlling stress-induced behaviours."

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