Anxiety-Mood Spectrum Syndromes: Anxiety, Panic, Phobias, ASD, PTSD, Borderline Syndrome, Dependent and Avoidant Personalities, Social Phobia, Bipolarity and Mania, Depression – Neurotic and Syndromic, Adjustment Disorders



Anxiety is ubiquitous and is a natural function of the brain structure, conserved and evolved over time in animals to be aware of danger situations. The limbic system, particularly the amygdala, hippocampus, and the cingulate gyrus, is involved in anxiety and depression. Sad expression and withdrawal behavior in depression draw attention and support from others and thus may confer survival value. Repeated and unabated activation of the anxiety–fear circuit, contributed by both early stress causing epigenetic vulnerability and continuing memetic stress eventually result in depression. Phobias represent severe anxiety and fear associated with memes and memetic stimuli. Panic syndrome represents a severe and episodic dysregulation of the fear–anxiety apparatus, probably determined by an unstable regulatory mechanism. Memetic stimulus such as being in an unfamiliar place might provide the initial ignition of anxiety that results in a full blown panic attack. PTSD and ASD represent the effects of overwhelming stress on the brain, i.e., overwhelming infusion or activation of stress memes that take over the function of the brain. The stress reaction involves the activation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical axis and massive production of glucocorticoids which are neurotoxic to the hippocampus and may result in a smaller volume and difficulty in processing memory. Borderline syndrome overlaps considerably with the symptoms and neurophysiology of PTSD and depression and may indeed represent the sequelae of childhood traumas interacting with genetic vulnerability. Contradictory selfplexes may alternate or shift unpredictably instigated by otherwise insignificant stress memes.

Early memetic environment that discouraged independence and fostered dependence would strongly contribute to the development of dependent personality. Repeated exposure in childhood to critical memes in social situations, or the stress of having to repeatedly adapt to new and strange environments in an anxiety-prone person, would set the stage for social phobia and avoidant personality. In the manic syndrome, there is proliferation of euphoric, high self-esteem, and grandiose memes, at times to the point of delusions and hallucinations when a psychotic process is activated. In depression, there is unchecked proliferation of depressive memes. In both mania and depression, there is gene × meme interaction leading to a neurophysiologic cascade. Major depressive syndrome is a final common pathway brain dysfunction requiring coordinated psychiatric treatment. In adjustment disorders, the symptoms, while distressing, are usually within the boundaries of normality. Gene and meme-oriented prevention and treatments for mild symptoms, neurosis, and major syndromes are discussed.


Social Phobia Medial Prefrontal Cortex Depressive Syndrome Adjustment Disorder Acute Stress Disorder 
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© Springer-Verlag New York 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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