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According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 38 million Americans suffer with anxiety and depressive disorders each year, and 78 million will be afflicted at some point in their lives. Left untreated, anxiety and depression can have serious personal, interpersonal, occupational and social consequences.
We have found:
Anxiety and depression occur together 75% of the time.
These disorders are, in large part, the result of brain dysfunction.
There are many forms of anxiety and depression—we’ve identified 7 different types, or patterns, within the brain.There are 5 major systems in the brain involved with how we feel (emotions), how we think (cognition) and how we act (behavior):
Basal Ganglia: Sets the body’s idle and anxiety level.
The Deep Limbic System: The brain’s emotional center that helps regulate how we feel.
The Anterior Cingulate Gyrus: The brain’s gear shifter that allows us to be flexible and adapt to change.
The Temporal Lobes: The brain’s memory manager and interpreter of experience.
The Prefrontal Cortex: The brain’s CEO.
Abnormalities in any of these 5 systems—including combinations—can underlie the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
TYPE 1: PURE ANXIETY
Pure Anxiety results from too much activity in the basal ganglia, setting a person’s “idle” too high.
TYPE 2: PURE DEPRESSION
Pure Depression often results from high activity in the deep limbic system—the brain’s emotional center. This type is associated with primary depressive symptoms that range from chronic mild sadness (also known as “dysthymia”) to crippling major depression.
TYPE 3: MIXED ANXIETY/DEPRESSION
Imaging studies of Mixed Anxiety and Depression reveal high activity in the brain’s basal ganglia and the deep limbic system.
People with this type have a combination of Pure Anxiety symptoms and Pure Depression symptoms. While one type may predominate at any point in time, both symptom clusters are present on a regular basis.
TYPE 4: OVER-FOCUSED ANXIETY/DEPRESSION
In Over-Focused Anxiety/Depression, there is excessive activity in the brain’s anterior cingulate gyrus, basal ganglia and/or the deep limbic system. Sufferers of this type have trouble shifting attention and tend to get locked into anxious and/or negative thoughts or behaviors.
TYPE 5: TEMPORAL LOBE ANXIETY/DEPRESSION
Temporal Lobe Anxiety/Depression is related to too little or too much activity in the temporal lobes, in addition to overactivity in the basal ganglia and/or deep limbic system.
TYPE 6: CYCLIC ANXIETY/DEPRESSION
Cyclic Anxiety/Depression results from very high focal activity in the brain’s basal ganglia and/or deep limbic system. Cyclical disorders, such as bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, premenstrual tension syndrome and panic attacks are part of this category because they are episodic and unpredictable.
TYPE 7: UNFOCUSED ANXIETY/DEPRESSION
Unfocused Anxiety/Depression results from too little activity in the prefrontal cortex in addition to high activity in the basal ganglia and/or deep limbic system. Because of its similarities with ADD, distinguishing between the two can be difficult.
VARIANT OF UNFOCUSED ANXIETY/DEPRESSION
A variant of Unfocused Anxiety/Depression is caused by overall reduced blood flow and activity in the prefrontal cortex along with too much activity in the basal ganglia and/or deep limbic system which can be caused by physical illness, drug or alcohol abuse, oxygen deprivation, infections, traumatic brain injury or exposure to toxic substances.