Identifying the gene-brain mechanisms that contribute to anxiety


Anxiety disorder is a general term for frequent bouts of nervousness, fear, apprehension, or worrying, which appear without a reasonable cause. They can cause real, physical symptoms and affect how a person behaves. Anxiety can range from mild, which is vague and unsettling, to severe, which can be extremely debilitating and have a serious impact on daily life. Anxiety is considered a problem when the reaction that occurs is out of proportion to what my normally be expected.

Physical signs sometimes also include:

  • A pounding heart, tight chest or chest pain
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Dizzy, headache, sweaty, tingly, numb
  • Dry mouth, stomach pain


The No Worries Trial

Researchers: Associate Professor Sylvia Gustin, Nell-Norman-Nott, Dr Negin Hesam- Shariati, Dr. Chelsey Wilks (University of Washington).

Emerging evidence has shown that negative emotional states play a key role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. The No Worries Trial will evaluate the effectiveness of a four-week internet-delivered Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) skills training to help chronic pain sufferers cope with painful, fearful, worrisome, anxious, and negative thoughts and emotions. Moreover, by having the DBT skills training online it is more accessible to those in remote communities, to those with restricted mobility, and more broadly it adds to the knowledge of internet-delivered therapies at a time when online is increasingly necessary to deliver treatment due to COVID-19.

Unravelling the link between chronic pain and mental health disorders

Chronic pain is a significant problem worldwide that results in enormous suffering and costs to affected individuals, their loved ones, and society. The experience of chronic pain is so much more than a sensation. Chronic pain impacts our emotions, cognition and social life.

Role of genetics and stressful trauma in anxiety and depression in various participant groups from the BRID (Brain Resource International Database) (2006-)

Using various cognitive, psychological and neuroimaging measures, they have investigated the role of several genes known to be involved in brain disorders.

Heritability of brain functioning across resting, emotional and cognitive tasks in the TWIN-E Study (2009-)

The TWIN-E Emotional Wellbeing study is a large prospective study of over 1,600 monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) adult twins from Twins Research Australia (Gatt et al., 2012, Twin Res Hum Gen).

What else is happening in Anxiety research at NeuRA?