Dr Bronwyn Graham
University of New South Wales
One quarter of Australians will experience a debilitating anxiety disorder, like social anxiety or posttraumatic stress, sometime in their life. Current treatments for anxiety have developed from research mainly focused on men, but women are twice as likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, although the reasons for this are unclear.
Using arachnophobia (fear of spiders) Dr Graham’s research looks at how changes in estrogen levels affect women’s ability to control their fear. She has found that women are less able to reduce fear during periods of low estrogen, and that anxiety treatments may be less effective for women when administered during times of low estrogen. The outcomes of this research may help us reduce both the time spent in treatment and the number of women suffering from anxiety.
Bronwyn has engaged closely with the media since her PhD, including articles in The Sydney Morning Herald, The New Zealand Herald and interviews on ABC radio. In 2013 Bronwyn was part of the ‘Australian Academy of Science/Theo Murphy High Flyers Think Tank’; generating novel ideas to increase inter-disciplinary research in Australia, with the objective of enhancing the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of brain disorders.