Long-Term Psychotherapy Changes Prefrontal-Limbic Function

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In the first neuroimaging study of changes in the limbic system and prefrontal cortex caused by long-term psychotherapy, researchers in Germany and the United States compared 16 recurrently depressed, unmedicated outpatients and 17 matched controls. Patients’ left anterior hippocampus/amygdala, subgenual cingulate, and medial prefrontal cortex showed higher activation before treatment. After 15 months, a reduction of activation was associated with improvement in depressiveness specifically, and in the medial prefrontal cortex with symptom improvement more generally. Results were published in PLoS One.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

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