Then, two hours after receiving the medication or placebo, the volunteers underwent a laboratory task that was designed to prompt anticipatory anxiety. More specifically, the team administered mild electric shocks to each volunteer’s wrist.
The test consisted of three conditions: the anticipation of no shock, unpredictable shock, and predictable shock. The volunteers were able to view which condition to expect; meanwhile, the researchers recorded the magnitude of their eyeblinks. This is because blinking is a strong indicator of anxiety levels in animals and humans alike.
In addition to the shock test, volunteers also filled out questionnaires in order to report the drug’s subject effects and their mood during the study before the researchers analyzed the results.
“Our findings suggest that a single dose of an orexin system antagonist dampens anticipatory anxiety,” revealed Dr. K. Laun Phan, the study’s principal investigator and chair of Ohio State’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.
And now, Dr. Phan believes this finding is critical to the development of new targeted medications– a goal he and his team are already eager to begin working on.
“This could be a promising strategy for treating anxiety disorders and possibly stress-related alcohol use. Further research is warranted, and our lab plans to continue this important line of work,” Dr. Phan added.
To read the study’s complete findings, which have since been published in Translational Psychiatry, visit the link here.
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