Anxiety and stress disorders are among the most prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders. In recent years, multiple studies have examined brain regions and networks involved in anxiety symptomatology in an effort to better understand the mechanisms involved and to develop more effective treatments. However, much remains unknown regarding the specific abnormalities and interactions between networks of regions underlying anxiety disorder presentations. We examined recent neuroimaging literature that aims to identify neural mechanisms underlying anxiety, searching for patterns of neural dysfunction that might be specific to different anxiety disorder categories. Across different anxiety and stress disorders, patterns of hyperactivation in emotion-generating regions and hypoactivation in prefrontal/regulatory regions are common in the literature. Interestingly, evidence of differential patterns is also emerging, such that within a spectrum of disorders ranging from more fear-based to more anxiety-based, greater involvement of emotion-generating regions is reported in panic disorder and specific phobia, and greater involvement of prefrontal regions is reported in generalized anxiety disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. We summarize the pertinent literature and suggest areas for continued investigation.
Duval, E. R., Javanbakht, A., & Liberzon, I. (2015, January 23). Neural circuits in anxiety and stress disorders: A focused review. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. Dove Medical Press Ltd. https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S48528