Amygdala is an almond shaped limbic structure placed within the brain's temporal lobe. It is involved in the processing of emotions, fears, motivation, anger etc. The amygdala plays a major role in processing our memories, in particular those that have emotional impact. In fact, our response to a particular event is triggered by the neurons in the amygdala. All the social stimuli we get are assimilated by the amygdala thereby making us responsive to a gaze, face or voice. It is involved in some of our cognitive functions like perception and attention. For all this, the amygdala is closely associated with the hippocampus and the hypothalamus.
Since amygdala is the structure associated with the limbic system, its functions are predominantly associated with emotions pertaining to the survival of the individual. These emotions can be categorized into types such as anger, fear, pleasure, hormonal secretion etc. The amygdala is also responsible for the storage of information as memory. It also helps in organizing the type of memory stored and where it has to be stored.
Amygdala is associated with the fear factor that is generated in a person. This is because the amygdala provides an autonomic response when associated with fear. This condition is also called as operant conditioning. Amygdala is generally associated with panic attack response, a subconscious response. It enables a person to be anxious or worried or escape a particular type situation. Although there is an element of anxiousness in every person, the level of anxiety varies. The memory of the anxious event is retained in the brain and the neural synapses store the information of the anxious condition in which fear was the response created by the amygdala. This facilitates the release of stress hormones which in turn yield to the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.
Symptoms of overactive amygdala
The Amygdala in an over-activated condition responds to the physiological, environmental and chemical stress caused to an individual. The response may vary from small to big depending upon the situation and other physiological factors. The response of the amygdala facilitates into a condition called conditioned stress response, in which various conditions such as muscle fatigue, neurotransmitter and stress hormone release, sympathetic arousal, sleep deprivation, immune reactivation etc occurs. Along with these responses, sexual responses such as erection, copulation, ejaculation, ovulation, preterm labor etc. also occur.
The treatment includes medication which affects the amygdala. There is no proven result of the medication which influences the amygdala in response to anxiety. Most treatment methodologies include cognitive behavioral therapy.
Bibliography / Reference
Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: February 18, 2018