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Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA): Its Crucial Role in Anxiety and Depression

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA): Its Crucial Role in Anxiety and Depression

The majority of people don't talk about it, but stress and anxiety are everyone's enemies these days. The high pace of modern life makes us feel under stress and unable to relax frequently. If you are looking for peace of mind, you might want a natural remedy with anxiolytic and anti-stress properties.

These remedies often contain various nutrients, and the ingredient list will often say GABA. GABA is an abbreviation for gamma-aminobutyric acid. Our article focuses on this substance and its role in alleviating anxiety and stress. Here is what the science has to say on that topic!

What You Should Know About GABA

It is interesting to note that scientists only understood the importance of gamma-aminobutyric acid for the functioning of the human brain several decades ago. Today, scientists pinpoint that approximately 540% of brain synaptic processing involves GABA.

GABA is a neurotransmitter, which is a substance responsible for transferring information between cells. The human body produces GABA on its own, but you can often find it in various health supplements.

You can't find GABA in food sources, which means that the diet doesn't affect the production of this aminobutyric acid. However, some foods are capable of affecting GABA production in the human body. These foods include veggies, fruits, red wine, and teas.

GABA comes with a wide range of potential benefits. The researchers explain that it stands on the opposite part of the scale to glutamate. Since glutamate is a neurotransmitter that’s considered excitatory, GABA helps to regulate relaxation and activation times.

That is why promoting an optimal sleep pattern is among the main benefits of gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA can also be helpful in lowering anxiety and depression symptoms and boosting cognitive performance. Let's take a look at the studies to support these claims with evidence.

Research Study 1 (GABA & Stress)


You can find comprehensive research on the participation of GABA in managing anxiety and depression symptoms. Scientists assume that the GABAergic system is behind major depressive disorders.

According to the explanation of this hypothesis, frequent stress decreases GABA in the brain.

That is what leads to increased emotions, which increases stress hormones. All that makes a loop that repeats itself and eventually leads to anxiety and depression disorders.

Research Study 2 (GABA & Calming)


Another interesting hypothesis presents the idea that GABA has the same effect as Librium or Valium. That is because these drugs interact with the same receptors as gamma-aminobutyric acid. The purpose of medications is nothing else than boosting GABA and its effectiveness in the brain.

Since this substance is an inhibitory transmitter, it has the task of decreasing neuron activity. That is how GABA manages to ensure the person feels calmer and more composed.

Research Study 3 (GABA & Anxiety)


An animal study conducted in 1989 focused on rats and the capability of GABA receptors to regulate experimental anxiety in these animals. The research involved training male rats with various punishment intensities to monitor their anxiety levels.

The conclusion is that GABA produced by their bodies interacts with GABA-receptors in the posterior hypothalamus.

That is how it is possible to alter experimental anxiety in these animals. Although it is an animal study, it is another proof of the capability of this amino acid to lower anxiety.

Research Study 4 (GABA & Anxiety)


A study on ten patients that had social anxiety disorder was published in 2017 in the United States. The idea of the study was to assess the role of glutamine, glutamate, and GABA in these disorders. The researchers established the baseline and then administered levetiracetam as a treatment for SAD.

The findings of the research include that the GABAergic system and its impairment plays a possible role in developing SAD.

The alterations of GABA and glutamate levels could deliver anxiolytic benefits for the user.

Research Study 5 (GABA & Anxiety)


Another research we found discusses the effectiveness of tiagabine. It is a GABA reuptake inhibitor used in patients dealing with a generalized anxiety disorder.

The study took eight weeks and involved a control group and the one administered with 4-16 milligrams of the medication daily. The total number of participants was 266, and the ratio was 134:132 in favor of the placebo group.

The results determine tiagabine was effective in treating GABA. It is worth noting that the benefit of this drug lies in altering GABA production and levels in the human brain.

That once again proved gamma-aminobutyric acid plays an important role in managing anxiety.

How Can You increase GABA Naturally?

Scientific evidence confirms GABA helps us to relax and decreases stress and anxiety symptoms. You might be wondering about the potential methods of boosting GABA production in your organism.

A method you could try is meditation. According to a study from 2012, meditation can increase a cortical silent period after a session. The researchers indicate that inhibition is achieved by affecting the GABAergic system. Thanks to that, you gain improved emotional regulation.


Boosting GABA production and achieving anxiety relief may be achieved by using a health supplement.



  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1760744/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3412149/
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