Understanding Disorders at the Cellular Level
Doctor Daniel Pine discusses the different approaches to understanding disorders and explains that we have a long way to go to understand them on the cellular level.
I think the important thing to say when we are trying to understand mental disorders relates to something that you just said which is that there are many levels at which we can look. We can take any one level and we can look at it very deeply, so we can look at brain structure very deeply or brain function very deeply or cognition and thinking very deeply or the behavior that we see in our office or out in our childrenâ€™s environments. We can look at each one of those very deeply or we can kind of look broadly across those areas. It can be very confusing even for the scientist to try to both simultaneously look broadly across these levels but also look very deeply. The same is true when we tend to look cellularly. Right now, in terms of trying to understand the relationship between cellular function and mental disorders, we are really not at a place where we can do that. Where we are is that we can look at how cellular function relates to behavior in animals and we are making really a huge amount of progress in that area. So for example, we have been talking about fear-learning. We are learning quite a lot about what kind of changes go on in cells when relatively simple organisms even some mammals learn about fear and learn about danger, and that is kind of state-of-the-art right now and it is very exciting because again since we know that there are some important similarities between what happens in relatively simple animals and what happens in people when they learn about danger. Understanding cellular functions in simple animals could be very, very helpful, but again we are not at the place where we can use that information to understand anything very precise about people. We are definitely not at the place where we can use that information to do anything clinically, to predict what is going to happen to somebody or to choose a treatment for them.
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Doctor Daniel Pine introduces the diathesis-stress model for anxiety and depression. The model posits that stress combines with inherited factors to produce disorder.
Doctor Daniel Pine explains that hormones are a contributing factor to the development of anxiety and depression. They interact with a number of other factors to cause to these disorders.
Doctor Daniel Pine explains that the environment is particularly important to determining how we understand, treat, and respond to anxiety.
Doctor Daniel Pine estimates that approximately 30-50% of the risk for anxiety and depression is genetic. Genetic treatments are an exciting area of research currently.
Doctor Daniel Pine explains that it can be normal and healthy to feel anxiety. Anxiety disorders, however, interfere with people’s ability to function normally.
Doctor Daniel Pine explains that the amygdala is involved in learning to respond to a fearful experience fear-learning. There is evidence that the same response can lead to PTSD.
Doctor Daniel Pine makes the important point that the idea of a 'chemical imbalance' as a cause of disorders has pretty much rightfully been given up.
Doctor Thomas Insel makes the case for model animals with the power to see how candidate genes for human disorders could affect other systems.
Doctor Daniel Pine explains that although a lot of work remains to be done, noerpinephrine (noradrenalin) and serotonin are important to understanding the biochemistry of anxiety.
Doctor Daniel Pine discusses explains that anxiety is more common in girls and women. Depression is also more common in women, but only after puberty. Anxiety may predict depression.