Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan
Psikiyatrist

P300 and its Fundamental Components…

Under which symptoms does the P300 method help us in assessing psychiatric disorders? How is P300, a type of electro-physiological assessments, used if you have anxiety?

P300, a criterion of the method of distinguishing important and unimportant stimulants of our brain, is analyzed over two fundamental components. These two fundamental components can be described as amplitude and latency. While the P300 amplitude changes based on the impossibility of the targets, the latency changes based on the difficulty of separating the target stimulant from the standard stimulants. Latency is generally shortened while the P300 amplitude gets smaller in a great majority of the patients with a psychiatric disorder and diminished cognitive skills.

P300 in Anxiety…

Although anxiety is a factor that we need functionally in daily life, the level of anxiety in people suffering from anxiety disorders can be intense to the extent it goes beyond the necessities. Negative symptoms also show themselves in cognitive processes, although mainly the decision-making mechanism is at the forefront in people suffering from anxiety disorder. While amplitude, one of the P300 components we mentioned above, gets smaller in the state of anxiety, the latency is shortened.

P300 in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder…

Trauma, as a general definition of the events that shock people more than normal in terms of inner processes and physically, points out the continuity of many consecutive problems, and the impact caused by a trauma does not heal easily. P300 amplitude was observed to be low in many studies where patients diagnosed with PTSD and patients not having PTSD were compared. These decreases in the P300 results signify the decrease in accessing necessary and unnecessary information, and from a wider perspective, the decrease in attention.

P300 in Generalized Anxiety Disorder…

This is a disorder, in which anxiety is experienced excessively, intensely and exaggeratedly, that is the opposite of the situation one is in. People with general anxiety disorder usually consider the negative sides of the situations, and due to the fact that this situation causes negative effects on attention and learning mechanisms, the P300 amplitude and latencies of the people with this disorder are lower compared to people with normal anxiety levels.

As a Result…

The P300 amplitude and latency are observed to be decreasing in psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, where anxiety disorders are present. Under the light of many researches carried out, this situation supports the studies putting forward that having a high P300 value signifies a protective situation, while a low P300 value signifies a risk factor.

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