Do you feel anxious and stressed out most of the time. Do you find it difficult to have a sense of calm and peace? If so you may be dealing with a genetic alteration in your COMT gene.
In this blog we will discuss COMT gene and anxiety. We will discuss what the COMT gene does and how different levels of the COMT gene activity can lead to Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue, Irritability and other nuerophsyciatric effects.
What Is COMT Gene?
So first off what is the COMT gene?
COMT is an acronym for catechol-o-methyl transferase. This is an enzyme in your body that plays a key role in the breakdown of catcholamines. If you don’t know what catecholamines are that probably don’t help and you want to know what the heck is a catecholamine, right?
Catecholamines are molecules that have strong neurophyshaitric (brain and mood) activity typically causing excitation and stimulation. These molecules are things like dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine.
When they are in balance in your body, catecholamines are great because help you to stay attentive, engaged, motivated, and interested. They give you higher self esteem and help with decision making. The stem and decisions making are specifically attributed to dopamine. Too little or too much can lead to dysphoria, anxiety, and other mental health issues since the molecules are either over stimulating or under stimulating the person.
So when we talk about COMT gene and anxiety typically it is the excess of these molecules that do this (but not always). From a genetic stand point The COMT gene variant that cause anxiety is typically the Met/Met version of rsid rs4680. The comt gene codes for the protein or enzyme that does the breakdown of the adrenaline.When your body has an alteration in it, at this specific spot (rs4680) the alteration slows the function. When you have two alterations MET/MET (or homozygous) it is greatly slowed. This leads to a build up of catecholamines like adrenaline and dopamine
COMT Gene and Anxiety Typical Response
So COMT gene and anxiety, typically plays out like the scenario below. This is assuming you have COMT gene alteration, you are taking a medication that alters the COMT enzyme, or you are deficient in the cofactors that help it work.
So here is a typical scenario; everything is fine, you have little to no stress, you are able to do your work and function just fine. Then a stressor comes on, and the catecholamines like adrenaline are released into your body. If the stressor goes away quickly you will be fine. However if the stressor lingers it will lead to a release of more adrenaline. Because the presence of the adrenaline makes you more likely to be triggered by the next thing (whatever that stressor might be), you get even more adrenalin released. In this feed forward way, many people with COMT gene have anxiety or a greater tendency toward it. Now it may come out as irritability or anger too depending on how you identify and deal with stress.
Longterm COMT gene alteration can lead to more than just increased stress. It may lead to insomnia or decreased sleep which will typically lead to fatigue and possibly depression too. The anxiety can lead to a hopelessness and worry about when these feeling and emotions might end.
Still just because you have this alteration does not mean you are going to be anxious, have bad sleep, or be depressed. There are alternative pathways to breakdown these molecules. However if there is also alteration in these alternative pathways, the likelihood of comt gene and anxiety goes up.
So what can you do? There are many things that people with COMT gene alteration can do to help this enzyme work more efficiently. One of the easiest ways to deal with it is to take a nutrigenomics approach (using specific nutrients for your genetics ). In this case it would be suggested to take magnesium. Almost everyone is deficient in magnesium too so very unlikely to cause problems. You also want to look at your cortisol levels and your adrenal function.
Hey I hope this information was useful in helping you better understand the COMT gene and anxiety. There are many other topics surrounding the COMT gene and anxiety that I did not cover. If you would like more information or details on how to balance your biochemistry through using genetics and nutrition, click on the link below for a free consultation or you can purchase my book MTHFR Gene Therapy on Amazon.