In this feature, we ask if there are any links between inflammation and anxiety. Although the evidence is slowly accumulating, we have a lot to learn about the relationship between the two.
Anxiety is normal. Most people will feel anxious from time to time. For people with an anxiety disorder, however, the feeling of anxiety is more common, intense, and persistent. For these people, anxiety is difficult to control and can interfere with their daily life.
There is a range of anxiety disorders. They include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia; separation anxiety disorder; and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some people have more than one form of anxiety disorder at the same time. Anxiety disorders are common. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2015, about 3.6% of the world’s population suffered from an anxiety disorder, or about 264 million people.
Scientists still don’t know the precise causes of anxiety, but some likely factors include hyperactivity in parts of the brain, neurotransmitter imbalance, genetics, trauma, personality traits, chronic pain, and pain. substance abuse. Even before the pandemic, anxiety seemed to be on the rise, especially in the West. It is urgent to understand how and why anxiety disorders appear. Some scientists are studying the potential role of inflammation.
What is inflammation?
In short, inflammation is a natural and beneficial reaction to harmful stimuli, such as irritants or pathogens. Inflammation is a protective response that helps the body rid itself of offending stimuli and protect the body. However, if the inflammation persists, it can damage the cells and tissues it is supposed to protect.
Inflammation also occurs in the brain, and while some of this inflammation may be protective, researchers are interested in whether chronic inflammation might influence the development of mental disorders.
Comparison between inflammation and anxiety:
While there is now good evidence for links between inflammation and depression, less research has examined the relationship between inflammation and anxiety. Anxiety disorders are characterized by mental distress. However, they can also be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, and metabolic disorders.
Because these conditions involve low-grade systemic inflammation, and depression often goes hand in hand with anxiety, some scientists wonder if inflammation might play a role in anxiety disorders.
Signs of inflammation
When studying inflammation, scientists focus on the body’s key markers. Markers of interest include the trusted source of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) -alpha.
CRP is released by the liver in response to inflammation. Its main role is to bind to markers on dead or dying cells or microorganisms. Scientists believe that by binding to its target, CRP helps the complement system, which improves the ability of immune cells to clear pathogens and dead cells.
IL-6Trusted Source and TNF-alphaTrusted Source are both cytokines that promote inflammation. Cytokines are a large class of proteins that play an important role in cell-to-cell communication.