June 1982

Neurotransmitters in Anxiety

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, The Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1982;39(6):735-742. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1982.04290060075015

• The most predictable anxiolytic effects of neurotransmitters are linked to the activation of a β-aminobutytic acid (GABA)—ergic subsystem associated with specific benzodiazepine receptors. Recent studies have indicated that subtypes of benzodiazepine receptors may be associated specifically with anxiolytic actions. Animal studies suggest that some forms of anxiety are mediated through the noradrenergic system, but a recent study testing this hypothesis confirmed it only partially. Other data implicate the serotonergic system in at least some types of anxiety. Currently the role of other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, histamine, acetylcholine, and peptides, appears to be minimal. Clinical responses to drugs suggest the existence of at least two types of anxiety disorders representing perhaps different psychobiologic mechanisms.