Scientists Identify 5 Subtypes of Anxiety and Depression

How can researchers actually categorize 5 subtypes of anxiety and depression? This actually came from their quest to get a better understanding of autism because of the huge ranges in the behavior of sufferers. Journalist Steve Silberman mentions in his book, Neurotribes, just how different each single case can be by phrasing that community as “the spectrum”. The notion there is that 100 people could actually represent 100 different causes genetically. 

Unique Blends of Anxiety and Depression

This naturally begged the question; can the same thing be said of anxiety and depression? We have always known that degrees of those afflictions exist, but what about types? There is a huge disparity between feeling a few jitters and experiencing a full-blast panic attack, and between being a bit out of place at parties to never ever stepping foot in any kind of social event. To help in understanding these kinds of distinctions, a brand new study from scientists at Stanford is claiming that at least 5 varieties of anxiety actually exist, with each one connecting with to different brain networks. 

This research is being led by Katherine Grisanzio, who is a research lab manager in the Neuroscience Research Lab at Stanford Medicine’s Williams PanLab. This research group posted their results in the publication JAMA Psychiatry, could even help to find more specific treatments for sufferers of anxiety and depression—which are 2 distinct disorders that actually share many qualities. According to the research, at least 50% of those who suffer from one of these forms often have concurrent diagnoses that can be applied to other categories. 

As quoted in the report, “Heterogeneity within each disorder manifests not only at the symptom level but also in underlying behavior and physiology, and this limits the opportunity for health care professionals to understand disease mechanisms and to identify valid biomarkers for disease progression and intervention targets.”

Low Recovery in Some Sufferers

Unfortunately, only about one-third of all sufferers that reside within this spectrum of disorders will recover fully. This low percentage is one that the Stanford team is hoping to drastically increase. Data from some 420 participants (along with a second completely independent sample of 381) were gathered. The average age was 39.8; and 61% of them were female. The test they were given included brain maps, self-reporting, and also psychiatric diagnostic testing. In addition, the scientists were interested in the ways that social anxiety will affect daily life. 

The study’s participants were then classified based on the self-reporting of their negative mood, anxiety, and their stress symptoms. After they were assigned a subtype, independent samples were conducted. A symptom subtype was then expressed for each participant’s behavioral level and their psychological functioning. And then the research team sought out clinically differences that were meaningful in functional ability of each subtype. 

During the study, the research group defines the 5 subtypes as:

Tension: This subtype is characterized by irritability. People can be very sensitive, touchy, and even overwhelmed. Their anxiety will make their nervous system become hypersensitive.

Anxious arousal: This is where cognitive functioning is impaired in some way – like not being able to concentrate or control thoughts. The physical symptoms for this subtype could be a racing heart, feeling very stress and sweating. “People say things like ‘I feel like I’m losing my mind,” researchers reported.

Melancholia: People with this subtype having issues related to social functioning. And when they further restrict social interactions, it can cause additional distress.

Anhedonia: The main symptom here is not having the ability to feel any pleasure. This kind of depression can be damaging because it is often unrecognized. This is because sufferers are usually able to function fairly well even in a high level of distress. “We see it in how the brain functions in overdrive,” Leanne Williams (who runs the lab) claims. “People are able to power through but at some time become quite numb. These are some of the most distressed people.”

General anxiety: A generalized kind of anxiety with the major features that involve both worry and anxious arousal — it is a more physical kind of stress.

If the field of psychiatry and also the medical world at large want make some progress towards more effective treatments, this guide will be a huge step towards that end. Williams has stated, Currently, the treatments would be the same for anyone in these broad categories. By refining the diagnosis, better treatment options could be prescribed, specifically for that type of anxiety or depression.”