That anxiety...Maybe It's In Your Genes!!

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • Take two people and expose them to a traumatic event and they may have very different immediate and lingering reactions.  Why?? Well maybe inborn differences can help to explain why trauma gives some people just bad memories and others the nightmare of post-traumatic stress.

    Researchers have demonstrated that some people have a gene variant that regulates the neurotransmitter, dopamine, and therefore they have a hyper-exaggerated "startle" reflex when they see upsetting images. and they then have trouble regulating their emotional response.  Combine their sensitivity with other hereditary and environmental factors and you may have a recipe for anxiety disorders.

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    If a person has 2 copies of of the met 158 allele of the COMT gene that is responsible for breaking down dopamine (meaning it's a weakened gene) then they may have a stronger startle reflex in unpleasant situations.  But though this research is significant, it's probably only a piece of the puzzle that explains anxiety disorder in some people.  Still, it can help researchers target drugs that may address this finite situation, helping to alleviate or diminish the anxiety response in some people.

Published On: August 20, 2008