Statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health show as many as 40 million adult Americans suffer from some form of anxiety disorder within any given year. An area of the brain called the amygdala plays a pivotal role in causing the symptoms experienced with these disorders. Treatment cures which affect this area of the brain are designed to treat the root causes of anxiety.
People who suffer from anxiety disorder can experience a pervasive feeling of fear regardless of what's taking place in their immediate environment. A small pair of organs inside the brain called the amygdala plays a prominent role in interpreting how "safe" or how "dangerous" a person's environment may be. The amygdala is situated at the heart of the brain's limbic system which is responsible for regulating the emotions. Most anxiety cures affect this area of the brain either indirectly through sedation or directly through reprogramming.
The Limbic System
The amygdala works like an emotional gage in the limbic system. Under normal conditions, when a person perceives a threat, the amygdala relays this information up to the cerebral cortex for processing. The cortex then assesses the threat and decides how to handle it. Once handled, the brain's system resets to normal. Individuals who have undergone prolonged periods of stress or distress have developed a highly sensitive amygdala, meaning the cortex plays a minimal role in determining when to shut off the "fear response." As a result, a person stays in a state of constant anxiety because the amygdala remains set on overdrive.
Traditional treatment cures for anxiety disorders lean towards medications such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and beta-blockers. These medications work to sedate the amydala and limbic system by altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain, resulting in a calming, relaxing effect. And while these medications are effective in terms of relieving symptoms, the root of anxiety remains intact. As a result, these medications---benzodiazepines in particular---can become highly addictive, requiring higher and higher doses to treat the same symptoms.
The amygdala plays a central role in maintaining feelings of anxiety. As such, treating the root of this condition requires the brain, and/or the amygdala, to be retrained in how it responds to perceived threats. Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy is a treatment approach that addresses the thought processes which trigger a person's emotional responses. Instead of perceiving a situation as threatening, individuals learn to use logical thinking processes to change how they perceive a situation. As long as what's perceived appears non-threatening, the amygdala has no reason to react.
Self-regulation therapy is a method that combines neurobiological and psychological approaches in the treatment of anxiety, panic and anger disorders. This approach addresses the bodily responses that occur in situations that are viewed as threatening. Individuals are walked through threatening situations during the therapy session and are encouraged to allow whatever "fight or flight" response to be experienced. In doing so, individuals experience a gradual release of anxiety associated with the threat. Eventually, a person is able to self-regulate these responses as everyday events present themselves. In effect, this method works to retrain how the amygdala reacts by gradually reassigning control over to the reasoning capacities of the cerebral cortex.