According to recent research, childhood temperament and a neural process may predict the risk of developing anxiety and depression later in life. This new information from The University of Texas at Dallas could help shape how mental health is handled in adolescence and early adulthood.
The study analyzed information from 165 individuals from 4 months old through the age of 26. The subjects were followed for decades because full symptoms don’t usually emerge until young adulthood.
The participants were categorized as either inhibited or uninhibited as young children. As adolescents, they had functional MRIs while completing tasks to measure the brain’s reaction in anticipation of a reward or trying to win money.
“We looked at the ventral striatum, a brain region well studied in terms of understanding depression in adults, to see if it’s tied to maladaptive processing in the reward centers of the brain,” said lead scientist Dr. Alva Tang.
It was found that the association between inhibition at 14 to 24 months of age and depression symptoms in those from ages 15 to 26 was present only in those participants who showed blunted activity in the ventral striatum as adolescents. There was no association found with anxiety.
“We found that behavioral inhibition was related to worsening depressive symptoms into adulthood. This supports the assertion that this temperament shows a stronger relation to developing anxiety in adolescence, but in adulthood, it is tied more strongly to depression.” Tang said.
Tang’s previous work has related anxiety to neural networks and processes that affect attention and executive functions. However, this new research highlights the rewards and motivational centers in the brain and relates them to depression.
Supporting Mental Health
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