Description: Anxiety disorders are common, can result in life-long suffering, and frequently begin prior to adolescence. Research has demonstrated that adults have alterations in the pathways that connect emotion related brain regions. Since anxiety disorders often develop early in life it is important to understand if changes in these pathways are already present in childhood. Furthermore, we set out to investigate if there are sex differences in the relation between these pathways and anxiety disorders. To address these questions, we measured white matter integrity in unmedicated boys and girls with anxiety disorders. Results indicated that children with anxiety disorders indeed have significant reductions in the integrity of this pathways, and this effect was only specific to boys. Demonstrating that these effects are present early in life, are not related to medication usage, and are sex specific. Building on these findings, future research has the potential to create a better understanding of the neural alterations in anxiety disorders and begin to develop better sex specific, early life treatment targets.
Related article: http://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.18040425
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