Fear, Anxiety, PTSD, GAD, and Inflammation

July 27, 2017
by Pharm Tao

Stress, Chronic Diseases, and Psychoneuroimmunology

Stress, Depression, Inflammation, and Psychoneuroimmunology

Fear- and anxiety-associated problems have been related to inflammation. As evidences, pro-inflammatory biomarkers have been found to be associated with affective behaviors (Michopoulos et al., 2017).

For example, in mental disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), and phobias, increased levels of inflammatory biomarkers such as cytokines and C-reactive protein (CRP) have been identified (Michopoulos et al., 2017). Stress responses may have critical roles in these disorders, which may result in the alterations in central and peripheral immune functions and cytokine levels.

How about the conditions of inflammation in fear- and anxiety-based disorders?

Studies have demonstrated that the dysfunctions of the stress axis may be correlated with elevated sympathetic tone and suppressed parasympathetic activities (Michopoulos et al., 2017). Such changes in anxiety disorders may lead to the conditions of inflammation and in turn influence the brain areas associated with fear and anxiety. These brain areas include the amygdala, insula, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex.

Because inflammation and associated alterations in the immune and brain functions are crucial in fear- and anxiety-based disorders, these mechanisms can be targeted for more effective prevention and treatment strategies (Michopoulos et al., 2017). More detailed understanding of the relevant pro-inflammatory biomarkers and pathways would be helpful for the management of anxiety disorders.


Michopoulos V, Powers A, Gillespie CF, Ressler KJ, Jovanovic T. Inflammation in Fear- and Anxiety-Based Disorders: PTSD, GAD, and Beyond. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Jan;42(1):254-270. doi: 10.1038/npp.2016.146.

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