Anxiety disorders range among the most prevalent psychiatric disorders and belong to the leading disorders in the study of the total global burden of disease. Anxiety disorders are complex conditions, with not fully understood etiological mechanisms. Numerous factors, including psychological, genetic, biological, and chemical factors, are thought to be involved in their etiology. Although the diagnosis of anxiety disorders is constantly evolving, diagnostic manuals rely on symptom lists, not on objective biomarkers and treatment effects are small to moderate. The underlying biological factors that drive anxiety disorders may be better suited to serve as biomarkers for guiding personalized medicine, as they are objective and can be measured externally. Therefore, the incorporation of novel biomarkers into current clinical methods might help to generate a classification system for anxiety disorders that can be linked to the underlying dysfunctional pathways. The study of metabolites (metabolomics) in a large-scale manner shows potential for disease diagnosis, for stratification of patients in a heterogeneous patient population, for monitoring therapeutic efficacy and disease progression, and for defining therapeutic targets. All of these are important properties for anxiety disorders, which is a multifactorial condition not involving a single-gene mutation. This review summarizes recent investigations on metabolomics studies in anxiety disorders.
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