New research has shown peoples’ moods are affected by immune system cells that are called to the brain.
Scientists at Ohio State University found that when subjects are put under prolonged stress, this sends signals up our spine that tells certain proteins to react in a way that increases inflammation inside our skulls.
While this doesn’t lead to any permanent damage, it does cause stress and anxiety.
In experiments conducted on mice, it was demonstrated that when monocytes migrate to the brain, the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala are all enlarged and this causes some of the secondary symptoms of panic attacks – including poor balance and an inability to think properly.
John Sheridan, professor of oral biology and lead author, said: “In this case, the cells are recruited to the brain by signals generated by the animal’s interpretation of social defeat as stressful.”
It is likely that this research could be used to change treatment models for those who suffer from panic attacks. Reducing the migration of monocytes could potentially reduce their symptoms.