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October 2015

Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 as a New Approach to Fighting Fear

Author Affiliations
  • 1School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(10):959-960. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1187

The burden of mental illness is increasing at a rate that is outpacing progress in its prevention and treatment. In stark contrast to declining mortality rates associated with medical disability (eg, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer), a meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry revealed that mortality associated with mental illness is increasing, accounting for 8 million deaths worldwide per year.1 In 2015, at the inaugural annual science meeting of the mental health charity MQ (http://www.joinmq.org), it was suggested that psychiatry needs “quick wins”—easily implementable, evidenced-based interventions to curb and even reverse these statistics. While such an outcome is unlikely to occur rapidly, we argue that treatments for anxiety disorders could be fundamentally enhanced by taking a novel approach that combines the best advances from psychiatry and neuroscience with those of clinical psychology. Anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental illness, accounting for one-third of the United States’ annual mental health bill, and up to 70% of people who attempt or commit suicide are diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder. If treatment outcomes for anxiety were substantially improved, the overall burden of mental illness could be significantly reduced.

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