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‘Safety signals’ could be the key to relieving feelings of anxiety

‘Safety signals’ could be the key to relieving feelings of anxiety

Anxiety – the most common of all mental health issues – currently affects about one in 13 people.

‘Safety signals’ could be the key to relieving feelings of anxiety

An anxiety disorder is a medical condition characterised by persistent, excessive worry. A person with an anxiety disorder will feel distressed a lot of the time, even if there seems to be no obvious reason.

In cases of anxiety and stress-related disorders, life events or situations that pose no real danger can spark a disabling fear, as well as other symptoms like compulsions and obsessions.

Cognitive behavioural therapy and antidepressants help many people suffering from anxiety, but not everyone.

Research from Yale University and Weill Cornell Medicine have shown how the use of a safety signal may help.

“A safety signal could be a musical piece, a person, or even an item like a stuffed animal that represents the absence of threat,” said Paola Odriozola, Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Yale and co-first author.

“A symbol or a sound that is never associated with adverse events can relieve anxiety through an entirely different brain network than that activated by existing behavioural therapy”, the researchers write in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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