Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Depressed? Fearful? It Might Help to Worry, Too

01.04.2010
A new study of brain activity in depressed and anxious people indicates that some of the ill effects of depression are modified – for better or for worse – by anxiety.

The study, in the journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, looked at depression and two types of anxiety: anxious arousal, the fearful vigilance that sometimes turns into panic; and anxious apprehension, better known as worry.

The researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) at the Beckman Institute’s Biomedical Imaging Center to look at brain activity in subjects who were depressed and not anxious, anxious but not depressed, or who exhibited varying degrees of depression and one or both types of anxiety.

“Although we think of depression and anxiety as separate things, they often co-occur,” said University of Illinois psychology professor Gregory A. Miller, who led the research with Illinois psychology professor Wendy Heller. “In a national study of the prevalence of psychiatric disorders, three-quarters of those diagnosed with major depression had at least one other diagnosis. In many cases, those with depression also had anxiety, and vice versa.”

Previous studies have generally focused on people who were depressed or anxious, Miller said. Or they looked at both depression and anxiety, but lumped all types of anxiety together.

Miller and Heller have long argued that the anxiety of chronic worriers is distinct from the panic or fearful vigilance that characterizes anxious arousal.

In an earlier fMRI study, they found that the two types of anxiety produce very different patterns of activity in the brain. Anxious arousal lights up a region of the right inferior temporal lobe (just behind the ear). Worry, on the other hand, activates a region in the left frontal lobe that is linked to speech production.

(Other research has found that depression, by itself, activates a region in the right frontal lobe.)

In the new study, brain scans were done while participants performed a task that involved naming the colors of words that had negative, positive, or neutral meanings. This allowed the researchers to observe which brain regions were activated in response to emotional words.

The researchers found that the fMRI signature of the brain of a worried and depressed person doing the emotional word task was very different from that of a vigilant or panicky depressed person.

“The combination of depression and anxiety, and which type of anxiety, give you different brain results,” Miller said.

Perhaps most surprisingly, anxious arousal (vigilance, fear, panic) enhanced activity in that part of the right frontal lobe that is also active in depression, but only when a person’s level of anxious apprehension, or worry, was low. Neural activity in a region of the left frontal lobe, an area known to be involved in speech production, was higher in the depressed and worried-but-not-fearful subjects.

Despite their depression, the worriers also did better on the emotional word task than those depressives who were fearful or vigilant. The worriers were better able to ignore the meaning of negative words and focus on the task, which was to identify the color – not the emotional content – of the words.

These results suggest that fearful vigilance sometimes heightens the brain activity associated with depression, whereas worry may actually counter it, thus reducing some of the negative effects of depression and fear, Miller said.

“It could be that having a particular type of anxiety will help processing in one part of the brain while at the same time hurting processing in another part of the brain,” he said. “Sometimes worry is a good thing to do. Maybe it will get you to plan better. Maybe it will help you to focus better. There could be an up-side to these things.”

Researchers from the University of Illinois, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Colorado collaborated on the study. The National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health; the Beckman Institute and Intercampus Research Initiative in Biotechnology supported the research.

Miller is affiliated with the U. of I. department of psychology, the Beckman Institute, the Neuroscience Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the department of psychiatry in the College of Medicine.

Diana Yates | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>