Our current psychopharmacological treatments for anxiety disorders evince a number of shortcomings, including troublesome side effects and lack of primary effects. Whereas many new drugs have been developed in the past few decades, most are based on outmoded theories of the pathogenesis of these disorders (i.e., monoamine hypotheses), thus frustrating our ability to create more specific and effective interventions. Recently, however, the neurobiological literature has shown a convergence of findings focusing on the glutamatergic system in anxiety disorders, and the growth of pharmacological tools targeting these receptors has led to the development of novel treatments having anxiolytic effects in humans and animals alike. Additionally, as this system is showing promise as a final common pathway in the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders, we may be able to employ glutamate-specific neuroimaging techniques (e.g., N-acetyl-aspartate, GLX) to both guide treatment decisions and present reliable objective biomarkers for treatment efficacy.
- NMDA antagonist