A prior epidemiological study identified a reduction in opioid overdose deaths in US states that legalized medical cannabis (MC). One theory to explain this phenomenon is a potential substitution effect of MC for opioids. This study evaluated whether this substitution effect of MC for opioids also applies to other psychoactive medications. New England dispensary members ( n = 1,513) completed an online survey about their medical history and MC experiences. Among respondents that regularly used opioids, over three-quarters (76.7%) indicated that they reduced their use since they started MC. This was significantly ( p < 0.0001) greater than the patients that reduced their use of antidepressants (37.6%) or alcohol (42.0%). Approximately two-thirds of patients decreased their use of anti-anxiety (71.8%), migraine (66.7%), and sleep (65.2%) medications following MC which significantly ( p < 0.0001) exceeded the reduction in antidepressants or alcohol use. The patient's spouse, family, and other friends were more likely to know about their MC use than was their primary care provider. In conclusion, a majority of patients reported using less opioids as well as fewer medications to treat anxiety, migraines, and sleep after initiating MC. A smaller portion used less antidepressants or alcohol. Additional research is needed to corroborate these self-reported, retrospective, cross-sectional findings using other data sources.
Anxiety, a behavioral consequence of stress, has been characterized in humans and some vertebrates, but not invertebrates. Here, we demonstrate that after exposure to stress, crayfish sustainably avoided the aversive illuminated arms of an aquatic plus-maze. This behavior was correlated with an increase in brain serotonin and was abolished by the injection of the benzodiazepine anxiolytic chlordiazepoxide. Serotonin injection into unstressed crayfish induced avoidance; again, this effect was reversed by injection with chlordiazepoxide. Our results demonstrate that crayfish exhibit a form of anxiety similar to that described in vertebrates, suggesting the conservation of several underlying mechanisms during evolution. Analyses of this ancestral behavior in a simple model reveal a new route to understanding anxiety and may alter our conceptions of the emotional status of invertebrates.
The neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) has been revealed as a profound anxiolytic and antistress factor of the brain, besides its many prosocial and reproductive effects. Therefore, there is substantial scientific and medical interest in its potential therapeutic use for the treatment of psychopathologies associated with anxiety, fear, and social dysfunctions, such as generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder, as well as autism and schizophrenia, among others. Focusing on preclinical studies, we review the existing evidence for the regulatory capacity of OXT to fine-tune general and social anxiety-related behaviors, as well as cued and social fear conditioning from a translational perspective. The available evidence from animal and human studies substantiates the hypothesis of an imbalance of the endogenous brain OXT system in the etiology of anxiety disorders, particularly those with a social component such as social anxiety disorder. In addition, such an imbalance of the OXT system is also likely to be the consequence of chronic OXT treatment resulting in a dose-dependent reduction in OXT receptor availability and increased anxiety.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and subclinical GAD are highly prevalent in primary care. Unmanaged anxiety worsens quality of life in patients seen in primary care practices and leads to increased medical utilisation and costs. Programmes that teach patients cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques have been shown to improve anxiety and to prevent the evolution of anxiety symptoms to disorders, but access and engagement have hampered integration of CBT into medical settings.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic and pervasive condition that generates high levels of psychological stress, and it is difficult to treat in the long term. Current pharmacotherapeutic options for GAD are in some cases only modestly effective, and may elicit undesirable side effects. Through targeted actions on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) pathway, the South Pacific medicinal plant kava (Piper methysticum) is a non-addictive, non-hypnotic anxiolytic with the potential to treat GAD. The evidence for the efficacy of kava for treating anxiety has been affirmed through clinical trials and meta-analyses. Recent research has also served to lessen safety concerns regarding the use of kava due to hepatotoxic risk, which is reflected in a recent German court overturning the previous kava ban in that country (which may in turn influence a reinstatement by the European Union). The aim of current research is to assess the efficacy of an ‘aqueous noble cultivar rootstock extract’ of kava in GAD in a larger longer term study. In addition, we plan to investigate the pharmacogenomic influence of GABA transporters on response, effects of kava on gene expression, and for the first time, the neurobiological correlates of treatment response via functional and metabolic imaging.
IMPORTANCE Depression and anxiety are associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes in patients with recent acute cardiac events. There has been minimal study of collaborative care (CC) management models for mental health disorders in high-risk cardiac inpatients, and no prior CC intervention has simultaneously managed depression and anxiety disorders. OBJECTIVE To determine the impact of a low-intensity CC intervention for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder among patients hospitalized for an acute cardiac illness. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Single-blind randomized clinical trial, with study assessors blind to group assignment, from September 2010 through July 2013 of 183 patients admitted to inpatient cardiac units in an urban academic general hospital for acute coronary syndrome, arrhythmia, or heart failure and found to have clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or panic disorder on structured assessment. INTERVENTIONS Participants were randomized to 24 weeks of a low-intensity telephone-based multicomponent CC intervention targeting depression and anxiety disorders (n = 92) or to enhanced usual care (serial notification of primary medical providers; n = 91). The CC intervention used a social work care manager to coordinate assessment and stepped care of psychiatric conditions and to provide support and therapeutic interventions as appropriate. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Improvement in mental health-related quality of life (Short Form-12 Mental Component Score [SF-12 MCS]) at 24 weeks, compared between groups using a random-effects model in an intent-to-treat analysis. RESULTS Patients randomized to CC had significantly greater estimated mean improvements in SF-12 MCS at 24 weeks (11.21 points [from 34.21 to 45.42] in the CC group vs 5.53 points [from 36.30 to 41.83] in the control group; estimated mean difference, 5.68 points [95% CI, 2.14-9.22]; P = .002; effect size, 0.61). Patients receiving CC also had significant improvements in depressive symptoms and general functioning, and higher rates of treatment of a mental health disorder; anxiety scores, rates of disorder response, and adherence did not differ between groups. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE A novel telephone-based, low-intensity model to concurrently manage cardiac patients with depression and/or anxiety disorders was effective for improving mental health-related quality of life in a 24-week trial. TRIAL REGISTRATION clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01201967.
The relationships between perfectionism, pathological worry and generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) were investigated in a clinical sample presenting for treatment of perfectionism.
Kava (Piper methysticum) is a plant-based medicine, which has been previously shown to reduce anxiety. To date, however, no placebo-controlled trial assessing kava in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has been completed. A total of 75 participants with GAD and no comorbid mood disorder were enrolled in a 6-week double-blind trial of an aqueous extract of kava (120/240 mg of kavalactones per day depending on response) versus placebo. γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and noradrenaline transporter polymorphisms were also analyzed as potential pharmacogenetic markers of response. Reduction in anxiety was measured using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA) as the primary outcome. Intention-to-treat analysis was performed on 58 participants who met inclusion criteria after an initial 1 week placebo run-in phase. Results revealed a significant reduction in anxiety for the kava group compared with the placebo group with a moderate effect size (P = 0.046, Cohen d = 0.62). Among participants with moderate to severe Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-diagnosed GAD, this effect was larger (P = 0.02; d = 0.82). At conclusion of the controlled phase, 26% of the kava group were classified as remitted (HAMA ≤ 7) compared with 6% of the placebo group (P = 0.04). Within the kava group, GABA transporter polymorphisms rs2601126 (P = 0.021) and rs2697153 (P = 0.046) were associated with HAMA reduction. Kava was well tolerated, and aside from more headaches reported in the kava group (P = 0.05), no other significant differences between groups occurred for any other adverse effects, nor for liver function tests. Standardized kava may be a moderately effective short-term option for the treatment of GAD. Furthermore, specific GABA transporter polymorphisms appear to potentially modify anxiolytic response to kava.
[This corrects the article on p. e79034 in vol. 8.].
Theories of anxiety disorders and phobias have ascribed a critical role to avoidance behavior in explaining the persistence of fear and anxiety, but knowledge about the role of avoidance behavior in the maintenance of anxiety in social anxiety disorder relative to specific phobia is lacking. This study examined the extent to which avoidance behavior moderates the relationship between general anxiety at baseline and 18 months later in women with a diagnosed social anxiety disorder (n = 91) and women with a diagnosed specific phobia (n = 130) at baseline. Circumscribed avoidance of social and specific situations were clinician-rated using the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule-Lifetime (ADIS-IV-L), and general anxiety was measured using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Moderated regression analyses revealed that (a) general anxiety at baseline predicted general anxiety at follow-up in both women with a specific phobia and women with a social anxiety disorder and (b) avoidance behavior moderated this relationship in women with a specific phobia but not in women with a social anxiety disorder. Specifically, high avoidance behavior was found to amplify the effect between general anxiety at baseline and follow-up in specific phobia. Reasons for the absence of a similar moderating effect of avoidance behavior within social anxiety disorder are discussed.