Common and distinct brain networks underlying panic and social anxiety disorders

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Although panic disorder (PD) and phobic disorders are independent anxiety disorders with distinct sets of diagnostic criteria, there is a high level of overlap between them in terms of pathogenesis and neural underpinnings. Functional connectivity research using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) shows great potential in identifying the similarities and differences between PD and phobias. Understanding common and distinct networks between PD and phobic disorders is critical for identifying both specific and general neural characteristics of these disorders. We review recent rsfMRI studies and explore the clinical relevance of resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) in PD and phobias. Although findings differ between studies, there are some meaningful, consistent findings. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) and PD share common default mode network alterations. Alterations within the sensorimotor network are observed primarily in PD. Increased connectivity in the salience network is consistently reported in SAD. This review supports hypotheses that PD and phobic disorders share common rsFC abnormalities and that the different clinical phenotypes between the disorders come from distinct brain functional network alterations.

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