Prolonged Stress, Anxiety Can Alter Part of Kids’ Brain

Prolonged Stress, Anxiety Can Alter Part of Kids’ Brain
By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 21, 2013

A new study published online in the journal Biological Psychiatry finds the brain structure associated with processing emotion– the amygdala– grows larger among children who have experienced extended stress and anxiety. Measuring the enlargement and connectivity of the amygdala can thus help to predict the degree of anxiety a young child is experiencing in daily life, claim Stanford University School of Medicine researchers. The researchers compared the results of the Childhood Behavior Checklist assessment with the size and connectivity data of each child’s brain to draw their conclusions, since none evidenced any neurological or psychiatric disorders, nor were any considered clinically anxious.

According to Dr Levinson and others, anxiety is a common, adaptive emotional reaction to stress. It normally helps us cope with difficult situations. However, when severe and/or sustained anxiety can lead to phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. These convictions are supported by both human and animal studies: Adults suffering from anxiety disorders have enlarged, highly connected amygdalae. Similar findings were reported in laboratory animals exposed to chronic stress. Since Levinson also correlated phobias and some mood disorders with cerebellar dysfunction, highlighted in Phobia Free, he considers it vital to expand the above studies accordingly in order to evaluate neurophysiological interactions between these two important structures.

About Harold Levinson, M.D.

Formerly Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, Dr. Harold Levinson is currently Director of the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities in Great Neck, Long Island, New York. He is a well known neuropsychiatrist, clinical researcher and author. His “highly original” research into the cerebellar-vestibular (inner-ear) origins and treatment of dyslexia and related learning, attention-deficit/hyperactivity and anxiety or phobic disorders has evolved over the past four decades. Initially supported by Nobel Laureate Sir John Eccles and other outstanding cerebellar neurophysiologists and inner-ear scientists, Levinson’s research has more recently been independently validated worldwide by highly sophisticated neuroimaging brain studies.

For more information, call 1(800) 334-7323 or visit www.dyslexiaonline.com.

Source: Psych Central News

Photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Dr. Harold Levinson
About Harold Levinson, M.D. Formerly Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, Dr. Harold Levinson is currently Director of the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities in Long Island, New York. He is a well-known neuropsychiatrist, clinical researcher and author. For more information, call 1(800) 334-7323 or visit: http://www.dyslexiaonline.com

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