Anxiety is a major problem faced by Americans. Over 18 percent of America’s population, or roughly 40 million adults, suffer from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders include PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), panic disorders, several forms of phobias, and clinical depression. Anxiety can be brought on by multiple factors. It can be simply inherited, triggered by a specific incident , or a chemical balance in your brain.
A recent study in Nature Communications Journal used a neurobiological perspective to examine specific mental disorders with mice. What researchers found is there’s a key chemical that occurs naturally and plays a vital part in the development of anxiety. By controlling the molecule that turns cannabinoid receptors on, anxiety symptoms can be reduced.
Connection Between Anxiety And Neurochemicals
Stress is the common major factor that causes clinical depression and PTSD. When stress happens the brain adapts to the harmful effects of stress. Dr. Patel and his team focused on investigating the neurochemicals that assist in stress resilience or the brain’s ability to cope with stress’s negative effects. The endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) is made up of endocannabinoids and its receptors. ECS manages our body’s crucial nervous and immune systems.
Endocannabinoids are lipids or fatty acids that work as a neurotransmitter. They trigger the CB1 and CB2 mind receptors found in numerous parts of the brain such as the cerebellum, neocortex, amygdala, hypothalamus, and the hippocampus. These are the main areas in the brain responsible for behavioral and emotional responses. They contribute to decision making, memory, learning processes, and maintaining overall homeostasis.
According to Dr. Patel’s research, the CB1 receptor is the main source of anxiety. CB1 is mostly found in the amygdala and if this receptor is blocked or the encoding gene deleted, anxiety increases.
Increasing 2-AG Improves Stress
Patel and his team also found that endocannabinoid 2 – arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) plays a critical role in managing emotional behavior. In mice, increased levels of 2-AG supply were directly proportional to stress resilience. Higher levels of 2-AG in mice’s brain showed less signs of depression and anxiety while lower levels of 2-AG supply are directly proportional to increased levels of stress in mice. The research shows that mice with higher levels of these chemicals in their brain were less susceptible to anxiety compared to those with low levels.
Battle Depression and Anxiety with Cannabinoids
Research suggests that a lack of natural cannabinoids in a brain can increase the susceptibility to depression, anxiety and PTSD. Cannabis can be a good natural way to increase endocannabinoids in the body and treat symptoms of anxiety and clinical depression.