University of Illinois researchers identified differing patterns of brain activity associated with each of two types of anxiety: anxious apprehension, as expressed by verbal rumination and worry, and anxious arousal, as expressed by intense fear and panic.
"This study looks at two facets of anxiety that often are not distinguished," said psychology Professor Gregory Miller, co-principal investigator of the study with psychology Professor Wendy Heller. "We had reason to think there were different brain mechanisms, different parts of the brain active at different times, depending on what type of anxiety one is facing."
Anxiety disorders are the most commonly reported psychiatric disorders in the United States, with nearly a dozen different anxiety disorders recognized. But those who study and treat such patients do not always differentiate patients who worry, fret and ruminate from those who experience the panic, rapid heartbeat or bouts of sweating that characterize anxious arousal.
The new study's methodology and findings are detailed in the journal Psychophysiology.