The biochemical changes that occur to cause depression and anxiety are of interest to researchers because an understanding of these factors can allow treatments to be found. It is known that mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are triggered by exposure to environmental stress that results in the release of the stress hormones cortisol in humans and corticosterone in animals. Cortisol and corticosterone can trigger inflammatory pathways within the brain that results in the generation if free radicals, and chronic exposure to stress results in the development of considerable amounts of inflammation and oxidative stress in the tissues of the brain. This oxidative stress causes damage to tissues and this can lead to disruption of normal neurotransmission mainly within the hippocampus. It is this disruption that ultimately leads to the symptoms of depression or anxiety, depending on the genetic predisposition of the individual, the type of stress they are exposed to and the nature of the disruption.
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