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Anxiety is HEREDITARY: Brain scans reveal anxious parents are more likely to have nervous and depressed children

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Baku, July 9 AZERTAC

Official figures show that anxiety and depressive disorders are a leading source of disability affecting hundreds of millions of people.

And now researchers have found that anxious parents are more likely to have anxious children, after discovering temperament is hereditary.

In particular, the study found that an overactive brain circuit that is typically linked to anxiety disorders is passed from generation to generation.

Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and the Health Emotions Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied 600 rhesus monkeys from a multi-generational family.

'Over-activity of these three brain regions are inherited brain alterations that are directly linked to the later life risk to develop anxiety and depression,' said senior author Dr Kalin.

'This is a big step in understanding the neural underpinnings of inherited anxiety and begins to give us more selective targets for treatment.'

Monkeys, like humans, can be temperamentally anxious and pass their anxiety-related genes on to the next generation.

'Basically, we think that to a certain extent, anxiety can provide an evolutionary advantage because it helps an individual recognise and avoid danger, but when the circuits are over-active, it becomes a problem and can result in anxiety and depressive disorders,' Dr Kalin explained.

'Now that we know where to look, we can develop a better understanding of the molecular alterations that give rise to anxiety-related brain function.

'Our genes shape our brains to help make us who we are.'

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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