Researchers from Columbia University and the University of California placed mice in mazes with open spaces (something mice are afraid of) and found certain cells at the bottom of the hippocampus became more active.
The team then tried to alter the activity of these ‘anxiety cells’ in the brain using optogenetics, which involves using light to control cells in living tissue. Reducing the activity in these cells made the mice less anxious and more willing to explore the open spaces.
Read more about the study on the Independent.
This discovery could have huge implications for people living with anxiety. Understanding the biology behind it and potentially being able to reduce activity in these ‘anxiety cells’ could make a significant difference for those suffering.
Kat Nicholls, content writer for Hypnotherapy Directory speaks on the discovery:
“As someone who has experienced high levels of anxiety and knows how much it can affect daily life, this is very welcome news. Mental health is just as important as physical health and as a nation, we seem to be struggling more than ever with anxiety. The number of visitors to Hypnotherapy Directory’s anxiety page has risen 140% in the last two years.
While there are certainly ways we can reduce anxiety, including hypnotherapy, self-care and a change in lifestyle, the more tools we have in our arsenal, the better.”
It is estimated that 7.8% of people in Britain suffer from anxiety and depression.