press release
Published: 19 March 2024

Is the secret to anxiety in young women hidden in our brain chemistry?

The development of anxiety in girls and young women may stem from an imbalance between two crucial brain chemicals, Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) and Glutamate, according to a new study from the University of Surrey. This discovery offers promising insights into potential treatment avenues for girls and women dealing with anxiety.  

The study revealed that as young women mature, the levels of GABA (a calming brain chemical) increase, while those of glutamate, known for its role in boosting brain activity, decrease. 

These revelations not only shed light on the underlying mechanisms of anxiety but also pave the way for targeted interventions that address the delicate balance of GABA and glutamate in the brain.  

By unravelling the mysteries of brain chemistry, the researchers aim to offer more effective treatments for anxiety, ultimately empowering girls and young women to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.  

The research used 81 participants from two age groups:  

  • 49 participants aged 10-12 years  
  • 32 participants aged 18-25 years 

The team used a brain imaging technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure the levels of the brain chemicals in different areas of the brain.  

The research has been published in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience


Notes to editors 
  • Dr Cohen Kadosh and Johnstone are available for interview upon request.  
  • For more information, please contact the University of Surrey's press office via

Media Contacts

External Communications and PR team
Phone: +44 (0)1483 684380 / 688914 / 684378
Out of hours: +44 (0)7773 479911