The imbalance between the release of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin play a role in developing Social anxiety disorder (SAD) among people. Earlier research was mainly focused on individual systems. Recently researchers at Uppsala University demonstrated the unknown link between these two neurotransmitters.
The findings of this research are published in Molecular Psychiatry.
The researcher Olof Hjorth at the Uppsala University said that there is comparatively a different balance between dopamine and serotonin transport among people suffering from social anxiety as compared to control subjects. The interaction between these two neurotransmitters transport elucidated more about the difference between groups than the individual carrier. This finding suggests that we should not focus only on one neurotransmitter at a time. The balance between different systems is more important.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a psychiatric disorder having negative impacts on relationships and work-life of affected people. It can be extremely debilitating. The study demonstrates that there may be an imbalance between dopamine and serotonin transporters in the affected individuals.
The imbalance between transporters occurs in the amygdala and other parts of the brain which are important for motivation, fear and social behavior. The functioning of these signal substances is majorly affected by the reuptake amount by the transmitter cells, controlled by different transporter proteins.
Social anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses, basically the fear of interactions with people and being uncomfortable in social situations. It is the anxiety and extreme fear of being judged and evaluated. It is a kind of pervasive disorder that causes anxiety and affects almost every part of an individual’s life.
The Social Anxiety Institute shared that SAD is the third largest mental health problem in the United States. Millions of people are suffering from this traumatic condition. About 7% of the current population is suffering from this condition at present. The prevalence rate for developing this condition during a lifetime is 14%
For sufferers, the stress of the social situation is unbearable. They avoid social contacts because things that are normal for other people make them so uncomfortable like eye contact or a small conversation. Not just the social but all aspects of their lives start falling apart.
Hjorth said that they have found an elevated production and modified reuptake amount of serotonin in people affected with a Social anxiety disorder (SAD). It can be demonstrated that the reuptake of dopamine is directly proportional to the severity of signs and symptoms of the social anxiety in the sufferers.
For this study, researchers used a method known as positron emission tomography (PET). In this radioactive agents are being injected into the bloodstream, get decay and release specific signal which helps the scientist to know the density of transporter proteins that are available in different parts of the brain.
The researchers are hopeful that these findings will lead to a further better understanding of the reasons for social anxiety and eventually to the latest effective treatments.
Hjorth said that most of the patients have symptoms that affect everyday life completely and suffered for a long time, so finding the actual cause and effective treatment is their highest priority now.