Woman in distress

Un tratamiento efectivo para la ansiedad

NUEVA YORK – El método tradicional de los investigadores para evaluar la eficacia de nuevos tratamientos contra la ansiedad es estudiar la conducta de ratas o ratones en situaciones incómodas o estresantes. Los roedores evitan los espacios abiertos e iluminados, que en la naturaleza son lugares donde serían presa fácil. Por eso su tendencia natural en una disposición experimental es buscar áreas mal iluminadas o cerca de las paredes. Cuanto más tiempo pase un animal medicado en áreas donde está desprotegido, más eficaz se considera el fármaco para tratar la ansiedad.

Pero los fármacos que se han obtenido con esta metodología no son muy buenos en lograr que las personas se sientan menos ansiosas. Ni los pacientes ni sus terapeutas consideran que las opciones disponibles (entre ellas, benzodiazepinas como el Valium e inhibidores selectivos de la recaptación de la serotonina como el Prozac o el Zoloft) sean tratamientos adecuados para la ansiedad. Tras décadas de investigaciones, algunas de las grandes empresas farmacéuticas tiraron la toalla y están reduciendo los programas de desarrollo de nuevos ansiolíticos.

Pero no podemos darnos el lujo de rendirnos en la búsqueda de tratamientos para lo que se conoce como trastornos de ansiedad, una categoría que abarca a la vez problemas relacionados con el miedo y la ansiedad. El miedo es un sentimiento que se produce ante la cercanía o la expectativa inminente de una posible fuente de daño, mientras que la ansiedad suele relacionarse con la posibilidad de un daño futuro. En todo el mundo, la incidencia de trastornos de ansiedad a lo largo de la vida es alrededor de 15%, y el costo social es enorme. A fines de los noventa, se estimó que la carga económica de los trastornos de ansiedad superaba los 40 000 millones de dólares. Pero es casi seguro que el costo total sea considerablemente mayor, porque muchos casos no llegan a diagnosticarse.

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