To answer this question right upfront, yes, anxiety is a chemical imbalance in the brain.
There are multiple neurotransmitters that are responsible for creating anxiety. Firstly, Serotonin helps regulate anxiety, happiness, and moods. High levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety. Secondly, Dopamine also regulates moods and anxiety. High dopamine levels can cause anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and mania. Thirdly, Norepinephrine is responsible for how you react to stress and anxiety, and is associated with the fight-or-flight response. High levels of norepinephrine are also associated with anxiety.
An increase in excitatory glutamate, plus a decrease in calming GABA, have all been implicated in the experience of anxiety disorders.
Your emotional processing brain structures are called the limbic system, which includes the hippocampus, part of the cortex, and communication with the hypothalamus and the amygdala. Your amygdala is your fear center, and will activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to activate your fight or flight response. The anti-anxiety properties of certain drugs tell us that these neuro chemicals are implicated in anxiety disorders.
Your genetics influence the production, metabolism, detoxification, and receptor site activity for all of these neurotransmitters.
And there is new research that suggests that anxiety may be triggered in the gut. As a result, it will trigger the brain. For instance, the hormone cholecystokinin, which triggers the release of bile, is a natural neuropeptide that creates a sense of anxiety. So the gut-brain connection is very important in understanding anxiety.
What’s interesting about anxiety is that it can be controlled by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that’s produced by the parasympathetic nervous system. And you can induce GABA by taking deep breaths. That’s why meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness have been very helpful in helping people control their anxiety.
In short, anxiety is a biochemical imbalance in the brain, and if you have any questions regarding anxiety, please join me in our Hormone Support Group. You can access it through my free Hormone Reboot Training.