Mood disorders, PTSD and anxiety disorders share brain phenotypes that may serve as targets for interventions, according to results of a meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry.
“Negative mood states, such as depression and anxiety, are part of the normal range of emotions, especially when in the face of loss or challenges,” Sophia Frangou, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Healio Psychiatry. “In healthy individuals, the brain's control network is activated to regulate such emotions so they do not become pathological. However, in people with mood and anxiety disorders, such negative moods are unprovoked, pervasive and persistent. This study helps to explain why these mood states persist and may be linked to dysfunction in the brain's control network.”
Frangou and colleagues analyzed 226 task-related functional imaging studies, which included data on 4,507 patients and 4,755 healthy individuals. The studies focused on mood disorders, PTSD and anxiety disorder. The researchers identified three right-sided clusters of hypoactivation in the inferior prefrontal cortex/insula, the inferior parietal lobule and the putamen. The only diagnostic differences they noted were in the putamen, where hypoactivation was more likely in bipolar disorder.
“These regions are part of a right-dominant brain system that supports contextual shifting and stopping of mental operations and behavioral response,” the researchers wrote. Specifically, they observed consistent transdiagnostic abnormalities in task-related brain activity. These abnormalities converged in regions of the brain that are primarily associated with inhibitory control and salience processing, which serve as the most consistent neurobiological features in mood disorders, PTSD and anxiety disorders, according to Frangou and colleagues.
“The main complaint of patients with mood and anxiety disorders is that they cannot stop their negative moods despite wanting to,” Frangou said. “This study shows that this subjective complaint is linked to objective dysfunction in the brain’s control network. In addition, targeting these dysfunctional networks with treatments may improve and even prevent persistent negative mood states.” – by Joe Gramigna
Disclosures: Frangou reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.