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October 2021

Med Hypotheses. 1998 Jun; 50(6): 473-4.

The role of the endogenous opioid system in the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders.

Sher L.

Hillside Hospital of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, The Long Island Campus for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Glen Oaks, NY 11004, USA.

The author suggests that anxiety disorders are related to a deficiency in the endogenous opioid system. The author classifies deficiencies of the endogenous opioid system as congenital or acquired, and also as real or relative. Individuals with 'real deficiency' cannot function adequately in any situations, including situations which are natural for human beings. Persons with 'relative deficiency' are unable to function adequately under circumstances which are unnatural for humans: their 'adaptational reserve' is insufficient. The use of opioid substances and alcohol is a form of self-medication to reduce anxiety. Acupuncture and its variations, psychotherapy, and the administration of placebo can decrease anxiety because these therapeutic maneuvers activate the endogenous opioid system.


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