Anxiety research for fiction

Here is my list of articles, with links, for researching anxiety. Perhaps you’ll find it useful.


Computerized Anxiety Therapy Found Helpful in Small Trial. 2011.09.15th


  • Cognitive bias modification (CBM) uses computer software to re-interpret anxiety-producing situations. CBM has been studied since 2002; however, only since 2009 has there been published research on CBM for anxiety patients.
  • The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale with standard questions was used as one measure.


  • Subjects received two techniques of CBM social anxiety disorder therapy, which focused on helping the patient control their attention to thoughts and change their anxious interpretation of situations. Over four weeks subjects did two CBM exercises twice weekly.
  • Trial subjects viewed a disgusted face and a neutral face. The disgusted face was replaced with an alphabet letter which the subjects had to report. Control group subjects viewed the same faces, but either the neutral or the disgusted face was replaced with a letter.
  • Trial subjects viewed a screen that contained a word and a following sentence describing a social situation. The word before the sentence was either an anxious descriptive or a benign descriptive of the situation. They had to say whether the word was related to the sentence. When they indicated benign descriptives were positively related, they were told they were correct; if they indicated anxious descriptives were positively related, they were told they were incorrect. Control group subjects viewed a screen having a word that did not correspond to the social situation sentence.
  • Subjects were given an impromptu five-minute public speech task at the beginning and and at the end of the study. Their anxiety during these situations was assessed by an evaluator.
  • During the study subjects self-reported using the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale a total of five times.


  • Trial subjects self-reported improved scores on the social anxiety scale as the study progressed. Control group subjects self-reported very little improvement on the social anxiety scale during the study.
  • Trial subjects demonstrated less behavior signs of public speaking anxiety at the conclusion of the study. Control group subjects demonstrated worse public speaking anxiety at the conclusion of the study.

Future: Continue to investigate CBM as an option to assist people with anxiety as a substitute for cognitive behavioral therapy or medication.
Publication: Depression and Anxiety
: Brown University; University of California – San Diego.
National Institute of Mental Health. Amir is attempting to patent CBM technology and has part-ownership of the CBM software company.

Anxiety Interferes with Some Children’s Capacity to Form Friendships. 2011.09.01st

Foundation: Anxious-solitary withdrawn children are considered those who want to interact but have anxiety interacting, which prevents them from being successful. Unsociable withdrawn children have low interest about interacting and also have low anxiety about interacting.
Near the beginning and again near the end of the school year, fifth grade students and their teachers rated fellow students on criteria about behavior in the classroom, emotions and relationships with peers. The data was used classify students as anxious-solitary withdrawn, unsociable withdrawn or non-withdrawn.
Findings: Children who wanted to interact with their peers but who experienced anxiety about doing so had less friendships and less stability in maintaining friendships than other children. Even children who did not desire to interact with their peers yet had no anxiety about doing so were able to maintain more friendships which were more stable compared to the children with anxiety about interacting. The anxious children were considerably emotionally sensitive compared to their peers. They had more likelihood of being excluded or becoming victims. Friendships were found to protect children from being victimized by their peers.
The anxiety experienced by anxious-solitary withdrawn children may prevent them from forming and maintaining friendships. Because of the benefits of friendships, it may be beneficial for withdrawn children to make and keep friendships in activities with social aspects.
Publications: Child Development
Institutions: Arizona State University.
Funding: part of a longitudinal Pathways Project study supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Succeeding in School: Stress Boosts Performance for Confident Students, but Holds Back Those with More Anxiety. 2011.08.26th

Foundation: Researcher Sian Beilock also the 2010 book Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To. The way that people interpret their bodily stress reactions is a predictor of whether they will choke or thrive when stressed. People’s perspective about their likelihood of failing or succeeding can lead to the anticipated outcome.

  • Study 1: Researchers tested undergraduate student subjects for their working memory potential and their degree of math anxiety. The researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in the saliva of undergraduate students taking a very challenging math test.


  • Study 1: Subjects who used large working memories had distinct correlations of cortisol levels and test performance. From that group, those who had anxiety about math did increasingly poorly as their levels of cortisol increased; however, those who without math anxiety experienced better outcomes with increases of cortisol.
  • Study 2: For test taking situations, worry inhibits performance; the best remedies involved writing about the anxiety or other topics and test preparation. In the case of performing in front of others, over-thinking the performance causes problems; a distraction is helpful for preventing the tendency to mull over mistakes.

Publications Study 1: “Choking Under Pressure,” Emotion; Study 2: “Choke or Thrive?” Journal of Experimental Psychology.

  • Study 1: UChicago;Vanderbilt University; Miami University.
  • Study 2: UChicago; Pace University.

Funding: Support from National Science Foundation grants.

Sex Differences in Mental Illness: Men More Likely to Develop Substance Abuse, Antisocial Problems; Women More Likely to Develop Anxiety, Depression. 2011.08.19th



Gender skewed likelihood of certain mental disorders, based on 2001 and 2002 data of U. S. residents collected by the National Institutes of Health with respondents answering questions about lifetime and recent mental illness. The gender differences can be explained by gender-related tendencies in dealing with emotions. Women who experienced anxiety were likely to internalize emotions which has been found to lead to loneliness, withdrawal and depression. Men tended to externalize emotions which often results in actions that are aggressive, impulsive, coercive or non-compliant. The study was conducted by the American Psychological Association in its Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

2011.08.01st Self-Medication of Anxiety Symptoms with Drugs or Alcohol Associated with Increased Risk of Developing Substance Abuse Disorders.
Based on data collected in the U. S. on adults who participated in National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism surveys during 2001-2002 and 2004-2005, substance abuse was measured in participants who had on-going or new anxiety disorders were sorted in those who did not self-medicate, those who self-medicated with alcohol, and those who self-medicated with drugs regardless of alcohol use. The findings showed that a 9.9% more respondents self-medicated their anxiety with drugs than with with alcohol among those who had reported past substance, and 9.4% more respondents who had been diagnosed with substance abuse disorders self-medicated with drugs compared to alcohol; the 12.5% of respondents who had used substances and self-medicated with alcohol was nearly the same percentage as those who were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, self-medicated with alcohol and later developed an alcohol use disorder. In contrast, 7.9% less respondents with an anxiety disorder who did not self-medicate developed an alcohol use disorder. Among those with a diagnosed alcohol use disorder, there were a few percentage points higher incidences of anxiety disorders among those who self-medicated with drugs compared to those who self-medicated with alcohol; a startling 13.5% more respondents who self-medicated with drugs compared to alcohol developed new-onset social phobia. The research conducted at the University of Manitoba, Winnepeg, Canada appeared in the Archives of General Psychiatry, a JAMA/Archives journal.

2011.07.29th Out-of-the-Blue Panic Attacks Aren’t Without Warning: Body Sends Signals for Hour Before.
Research subjects were panic disorder patients whose physiological symptoms were monitored by electrodes, sensors a and carbon-dioxide breath measurement device that were attached to a waist pack for 24 hours of monitoring. Patients who marked an occurrence of a panic attack had specific physiological symptoms measured sixty minutes before they reported the attack. The symptoms did not occur at times outside of the panic attacks. The patients had low levels of carbon monoxide which indicated that they chronically hyperventilated. In the hour before panic attacks were reported, the levels of carbon monoxide increased. There were 14 other changes that were identified in the hour preceding a recognized attack; these were identified by eight measuring devices that recorded physiological symptoms such as respiration patterns, heart activity and sweat. The multi-disciplinary research reported in Biological Psychiatry was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Beth and Russell Siegelman Foundation.

2011.07.14th People at Risk for Panic Buffered From Stressor by High Levels of Physical Activity.
Subjects of the research published in Psychosomatic Medicine were adults with no history of panic attacks. They inhaled air with added carbon dioxide, that posed no harm to their health. Breathing the air with carbon dioxide commonly causes sensations associated with panic: nausea, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, stomach aches and shortness of breath. The participants who had regular high levels of physical activity reported less anxiety about the induced sensations. The research was aimed at studying the fear that panic-related symptoms are harmful, known as anxiety sensitivity. The study continued to explore past research results that found exercise to reduce anxiety sensitivity. The findings are helpful since there is a well-supported body of research showing that people with greater fear of experiencing the physical anxiety-related symptoms were more likely to develop panic and other anxiety disorders.

2011.07.13th Accentuating the Positive May Eliminate the Negative in Teenagers with Anxiety.
The research published in the Springer journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development focused on teenage students in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire who were trained to make either positive or negative resolutions to a story scenario of a familiar but emotionally ambiguous situation. Later the subjects were given new scenarios. Researchers found that those who had been trained toward the positive were more likely to see the new ambiguous scenarios with positive outcomes; those who had been trained for negative interpretations were likely to consider the new scenarios in a negative light. The research was based on the assumption that anxiety and bad moods are related to negative interpretations of situations. It was noted that anxiety is estimated at 10 to 15%  of teens but that research on teen anxiety lags behind adult anxiety research.

2011.07.01st Obese People Can Suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder Due to Weight Alone.
In a study published in Depression and Anxiety, subjects were patients who wished to have bariatric surgery and needed clearance. The study focused on a matter related to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), 4th edition , guidelines about the diagnosis of social anxiety disorder: the diagnosis should not be made when the anxiety is related to a medical condition. The research identified patients who had a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder and those who had anxiety recognized clinically as only relating to their weight. These groups were found to have similar social functioning over the previous five years; they also had less successful social functioning during their adolescence when compared to patients who did not have clinical anxiety. Those patients diagnosed with social anxiety disorder had reported more lost work time due to their emotional or psychological issues. In the month prior those who had clinical anxiety without a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder reported more distress and disruptions in their social lives than those with the diagnosis. The findings add to research about other medical issues and related anxiety and are offered for consideration of modifying the 5th edition of the DSM. Support for the research was provided by Lifespan Office of Research Administration; the patients were from a member hospital of Lifespan, Rhode Island Hospital.

2011.06.15th Anxious Searchers Miss Multiple Objects.
In research published in Psychological Science, university students searched for shapes on a computer screen, simulating the work of airport security professionals and radiologists. To induce anxiety, the researchers told students that they could receive an electric shock during the some of the trials, but that the shock was unpredictable and unrelated to their performance. The same students also had trials in which they heard a tone that was not harmful to them. Subjects were able to find single objects with a level of accuracy that did not change when they were anxious or not anxious. In the cases where two objects were presented on screen, the subjects were less likely to identify the second object when they were anxious. The amount of time spent looking for objects was the same with and without induced anxiety.Failure to identify a second object is known as “satisfaction of search”; it is a common error made by radiology professionals. The research was supported by the Army Research Office and the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions.

2011.05.21st Does Eating Give You Pleasure, or Make You Anxious?
In the study published on the web journal International Journal of Eating Disorders, subjects were administered a dose of amphetamine. The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) to obtain images of how the amphetamine was processed in the brain. The drug was administered to induce a release of dopamine which is associated with pleasure, such as eating. In healthy subjects, the dopamine stimulated the reward center part of the brain. In subjects who had recovered from anorexia nervosa for at least one year, the drug affected the part of the brain that is anxious about consequences, causing the subjects to experience anxiety instead of pleasure. The research was supported by the National Institute on Mental Health and the Prince Foundation.

2011.05.17th Anxiety and Depression Linked to Risk-Taking in Young Drivers, Australian Study Finds.
In research published in Injury Prevention, of the young drivers on their provisional license who reported risky driving behavior, it was found that 8.5% of the behavior was attributable to anxiety and depression. There was a higher incidence of this connection among female subjects compared to male subjects. The risky behaviors include speeding, driving without wearing a seat belt and use of a mobile phone while driving.

2011.04.10th Bullying Alters Brain Chemistry, Leads to Anxiety, Mouse Study Finds.
Individual young mice test subjects were placed in a cage and submitted to 10-minute territorial contests with a different single larger, older male mice for 10 consecutive days. After each battle, the mice were separated by a see-through partition as they shared the same cage. After the 10 days, the young mice could rest for one day. The following day the mice were placed with other mice that were the same age and that were not a threat to them. The test subjects avoided normal socialization with the other young mice. Mice who had lost territorial battles had tendencies to freeze up for longer periods of time and to display behaviors of assessing the risk of the new young mice mates. The freezing up and risk assessment behaviors are used to measure fear and anxiety in humans. When some of the test subjects received a drug that blocked vasopressin receptors, the mice could avoid some of their anxious behaviors. Examination of the test subjects’ brains showed that the mice had increased sensitivity to the vasopressin hormone, and was most noticeable in the subjects’ amygdalas. In humans vasopressin is associated with aggression, stress and anxiety disorders; the hormone is measured in high levels in rats born with high anxiety traits. Chronic social stress has been implicated in changes to neuroendocrine systems necessary for courtship, pair-bonding and parenting; changes to neuroendocrine systems in humans are related to social phobias, depression, schizophrenia and autism.  The research was published in Physiology & Behavior.

2011.03.21st Does Social Anxiety Disorder Respond To Psychotherapy? Brain Study Says Yes.
Social anxiety includes fears of interacting with others and the expectation of harsh judgments. In a study published by the Association of Psychological Science’s journal Psychological Science, adults with social anxiety disorder participated in 12 weekly group cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. Control groups of university students consisted of those who tested extremely high for social anxiety and another group who tested extremely low; neither control group participated in psychotherapy. The group therapy subjects were administered EEGs while at rest and during a stress-inducing scenario. Two EEGs were conducted before the group therapy sessions; one was conducted midway through the treatment and a final one was given two weeks after session of group therapy. Some test subjects were taking medication for their disorder. The study compared subjects’ delta-beta correlations to the control groups. Before group therapy, the results were similar to the high-anxiety control group’s delta-beta correlations; the low-anxiety control group’s correlations were far lower than than the test subjects’. Midway through the trial, the brain health improved along with subjects’ self-reporting and clinician reporting of symptom improvements. After the therapy ended, the subjects had brain health similar to those of the low-anxiety group.

2011.03.07th Depression and Anxiety Differentially Influence Physical Symptom Reporting.
Healthy undergraduate students were assessed for their level of depression and reported physical symptoms experienced in the past three weeks. Those who were more depressed reported more types of symptoms, even if the physical symptoms related to depression were removed from their self-reporting. Another group of healthy undergraduate students were given fifteen-minute writing assignments to induce one of five moods: angry, anxious, depressed, happy, neutral. Those in the induced anxiety group then reported that they currently experienced more symptoms than other groups out of a checklist of 24 possible symptoms. A third group of healthy undergraduate students participated in the mood-inducing exercise. The subjects whose anxiety had been induced reported an average of five current symptomscompared to one or two symptoms reported by the subjects induced into depressed and neutral emotions; however, those in the induced depression group reported an average of seven symptoms in the past three weeks while other groups averaged three past symptoms. The study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology was funded in part by the National Institute on Aging and a post-doctoral fellowship awarded by the VA.

2011.01.11th Possible Off-Switch For Anxiety Discovered.
A study published in Current Biology demonstrated that in zebrafish disrupting certain neurons in their habenula caused them to show signs of helplessness and were unable to learn to avoid a light electric shock by swimming away from a light. The fish showed anxious behavior and were startled by stimuli that was not harmful.

2010.12.22nd New Breathing Therapy Reduces Panic and Anxiety by Reversing Hyperventilation.
A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology showed that panic-disorder patients who received a type of breathing therapy had reduction of symptoms equal to patients who received cognitive therapy for panic disorder and agoraphobia; moreover, the breathing therapy did what cognitive therapy did not, which was to reverse hyperventilation which lowers blood levels of carbon dioxide and causes the frightening physical symptoms associate with panic. The breathing therapy was Capnometry-Assisted Respiratory Training (CART). A portable capnometer was used twice a day during breathing exercises to give patients feedback about their carbon dioxide levels. The exercises helped patients to breath slowly and shallowly to reduce chronic and acute hyperventilation.

Note: deep breathing worsens hyperventilation, despite contrary beliefs.

2010.11.16th Functional MRI Predicts Outcome To Talk Therapy in Children with an Anxiety Disorder.
Children and adolescents diagnosed with pediatric anxiety disorder were given fMRI scans of blood flowing through their amygdala while viewing faces expressing strong emotions. Then the subjects participated in an eight-week cognitive behavioral therapy. The results demonstrated that subjects whose scans showed fear while looking at happy faces had the least success with cognitive behavioral therapy; subjects whose scans showed fear while looking at faces expressing fear received benefit from the therapy. Previous studies have demonstrated that subjects who look at fearful faces experience fear; an important finding in this study showed that some anxiety disorder patients experience more anxiety looking at happy faces than at fearful ones. The study was presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

2010.09.14th How Our Brains Get Tripped Up When We’re Anxious.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was found that less neural inhibition in computerized neural network simulation affected the simulation’s performance making choices. They asked research subjects, who were not described in the Science Daily article, to think of the first verb in their mind when they are given the stimulus of a noun. Although there is no clear description of the methods in the article, research subjects were given a drug midoazolam to increase the inhibition; subjects were then better at “making hard choices.” Again, while the methods were not describe in the article, researchers identified subjects with anxiety and found that more anxiety was related to worse performance in making decisions. The word choice aspect of the test was based on an idea that neurons compete in the area of the brain responsible for choosing words. Past research has not been able to explain why people with anxiety can become paralyzed when making decisions with many options.

2010.08.18th Skin Condition Associated with Depression …

2010.04.19th Biological Link Between Stress, Anxiety and …

2010.04.06th Mental Health Providers Should Prescribe …

2010.03.19th Some Bullies Are Just the Shy Type: New …

2010.02.10th People With Anxiety Disorder Less Able to …

2010.02.03rd Functional Connection Between Hippocampus …

2009.12.30th Brain Scans Show Distinctive Patterns …


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