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Unformatted text preview: receptors, or perhaps their GABA receptors do not readily capture the
This explanation continues to have many supporters, but it is also problematic. First, according to recent biological discoveries, other neurotransmitters may also play important roles in anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder,
either acting alone or in conjunction with GABA (Garrett, 2009; Burijon,
2007). Second, biological theorists are faced with the problem of establishing a
causal relationship. The abnormal GABA responses of anxious persons may be
the result, rather than the cause, of their anxiety disorders. Perhaps long-term
anxiety eventually leads to poorer GABA reception, for example. 12/10/09 11:16:11 AM Anxiety Disorders ANTIANXIETY DRUG THERAPY In the late 1950s benzodiazepines were originally marketed
as sedative-hypnotic drugs—drugs that calm people in low doses and help them fall
asleep in higher doses. These new antianxiety drugs seemed less addictive than previous sedative-hypnotic medications, such as barbiturates, and they appeared to produce
less tiredness (Meyer & Quenzer, 2005). Thus, they were quickly embraced by both
doctors and patients.
Only years later did investigators come to understand the reasons for the effectiveness of benzodiazepines. As you have read, researchers eventually learned that there
are specific neuron sites in the brain that receive benzodiazepines and that these same
receptor sites ordinarily receive the neurotransmitter GABA. Apparently, when benzodiazepines bind to these neuron receptor sites, particularly those receptors known as
GABA-A receptors, they increase the ability of GABA to bind to them as well, and so improve GABA’s ability to stop neuron firing and reduce anxiety (Dawson et al., 2005).
Studies indicate that benzodiazepines often provide temporary relief for people with
generalized anxiety disorder (Burijon, 2007). However, clinicians have come to realize
the potential dangers of these drugs. First, when the medications are stopped, many
persons’ anxieties return as strong as ever. Second, we now know that people who take
benzodiazepines in large doses for an extended time can become physically dependent
on them. Third, the drugs can produce undesirable effects such as drowsiness, lack of
coordination, memory loss, depression, and aggressive behavior. Finally, the drugs mix
badly with certain other drugs or substances, such as alcohol.
In recent decades, still other kinds of drugs have become available for people with
generalized anxiety disorder ( Julien, 2008). In particular, it has been discovered that a
number of antidepressant medications, drugs that are usually used to lift the moods of
depressed persons, are also helpful to many people with generalized anxiety disorder. In
fact, a number of today’s clinicians are more inclined to prescribe such antidepressants to
treat generalized anxiety disorder than the GABA-enhancing benzodiazepines (Burijon,
2007; Liebowitz et al., 2005).
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