Neural substrates of emotional conflict with anxiety in major depressive disorder: Findings from the Establishing Moderators and biosignatures of Antidepressant Response in Clinical Care (EMBARC) randomized controlled trial

Joseph M. Trombello, Crystal M. Cooper, Cherise Chin Fatt, Bruce D. Grannemann, Thomas J. Carmody, Manish K. Jha, Taryn L. Mayes, Tracy L. Greer, Uma Yezhuvath, Sina Aslan, Diego A. Pizzagalli, Myrna M. Weissman, Christian A. Webb, Daniel G. Dillon, Patrick J. McGrath, Maurizio Fava, Ramin V. Parsey, Melvin G. McInnis, Amit Etkin, Madhukar H. Trivedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The brain circuitry of depression and anxiety/fear is well-established, involving regions such as the limbic system and prefrontal cortex. We expand prior literature by examining the extent to which four discrete factors of anxiety (immediate state anxiety, physiological/panic, neuroticism/worry, and agitation/restlessness) among depressed outpatients are associated with differential responses during reactivity to and regulation of emotional conflict. Methods: A total of 172 subjects diagnosed with major depressive disorder underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing an Emotional Stroop Task. Two main contrasts were examined using whole brain voxel wise analyses: emotional reactivity and emotion regulation. We also evaluated the association of these contrasts with the four aforementioned anxiety factors. Results: During emotional reactivity, participants with higher immediate state anxiety showed potentiated activation in the rolandic operculum and insula, while individuals with higher levels of physiological/panic demonstrated decreased activation in the posterior cingulate. No significant results emerged for any of the four factors on emotion regulation. When re-analyzing these statistically-significant brain regions through analyses of a subsample with (n = 92) and without (n = 80) a current anxiety disorder, no significant associations occurred among those without an anxiety disorder. Among those with an anxiety disorder, results were similar to the full sample, except the posterior cingulate was associated with the neuroticism/worry factor. Conclusions: Divergent patterns of task-related brain activation across four discrete anxiety factors could be used to inform treatment decisions and target specific aspects of anxiety that involve intrinsic processing to attenuate overactive responses to emotional stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume149
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • EMBARC
  • Emotion
  • Stroop
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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