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The chances that anxiety disorder medication will help a patient is about as good as calling heads on a coin toss–and there is no way to determine who will benefit from medication and who will not.

K. Luan Phan, MD, University of Chicago, and colleagues, gave volunteers either a placebo or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)–the active ingredient in marijuana. While a participant’s brain was being scanned they were shown pictures of faces displaying a variety of emotions.

The subjects who received the placebo showed a response in the region of the brain called the amygdala, THC recipients had measurably less activity in the same region of the brain.

Researchers next study will involve a generic form of the Zoloft, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Using the same approach of brain scans and pictures of emotional expressions will help determine the SSRI’s effectiveness in the treatment of anxiety disorder.

If you are interested in participating in the upcoming study please visit their website, email:  socialphobia@umich.edu, or phone: (734) 232-0199.

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