Home / News / ‘Safety signals’ may help slow down anxiety
продажа авиабилетов

‘Safety signals’ may help slow down anxiety

anxiety
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

For as many as one in three people, life events or situations that pose no real danger can spark a disabling fear, a hallmark of anxiety and stress-related disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants help about half the people suffering from anxiety, but millions of others do not find sufficient relief from existing therapies.

Researchers at Yale University and Weill Cornell Medicine report Dec. 9 on a novel way that could help combat such anxiety: When life triggers excessive , use a signal.

In humans and in mice, a symbol or a sound that is never associated with adverse events can relieve anxiety through an entirely different brain network than that activated by existing , the researchers write in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“A safety signal could be a musical piece, a person, or even an item like a stuffed animal that represents the absence of threat,” said Paola Odriozola, Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Yale and co-first author.

The approach differs from behavioral therapy, which slowly exposes patients to the source of their fear, such as spiders, until a patient learns that spiders do not represent a significant threat and anxiety is decreased. And for many people, exposure-based therapy does not truly help.

The new study may explain why.

In the new research, subjects were conditioned to associate one shape with a threatening outcome and a different shape with a non-threatening outcome. (In mice, tones were used in the conditioning instead of shapes.) The shape associated with threat alone was presented to subjects, and later subjects viewed both threatening and non-threatening shape together. Adding the second, non-threatening shape—the safety signal—suppressed the subjects’ fear compared to the response to the threat-related alone. Brain imaging studies of both human and mice subjects presented with the signals showed this approach activated a different neural network than exposure therapy, suggesting safety signaling might be an effective way to augment current therapies.

“Exposure-based therapy relies on fear extinction, and although a safety memory is formed during , it is always competing with the previous threat memory,” explained Dylan Gee, assistant professor of psychology at Yale and co-senior author. “This competition makes current therapies subject to the relapse of fear—but there is never a threat memory associated with safety signals.”

Gee stressed that the need for alternatives for those suffering from anxiety-related disorders is great.

“Both and antidepressants can be highly effective, but a substantial part of the population does not benefit sufficiently, or the benefits they experience don’t hold up in the longer term,” she said.


Mindfulness meditation training alters how we process fearful memories


More information:
Heidi C. Meyer el al., “Ventral hippocampus interacts with prelimbic cortex during inhibition of threat response via learned safety in both mice and humans,” PNAS (2019). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1910481116

Provided by
Yale University


Citation:
‘Safety signals’ may help slow down anxiety (2019, December 9)
retrieved 10 December 2019
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-12-safety-anxiety.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.


Source link

Check Also

Fewer than half of US clinical trials have complied with the law on reporting results, despite new regulations

Credit: CC0 Public Domain January 2020 is the third anniversary of the implementation of the …

120*600 120*600