PET scans reveal how psychodynamic therapy for depression may change brain function

A study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has identified for the first time changes in the metabolic activity of a key brain region in patients successfully treated for depression with psychodynamic psychotherapy, suggesting a mechanism of action behind one of the most historically important and widely practiced forms of therapy. They also found evidence that pretreatment metabolism in a different brain structure might predict which patients are likely to respond to that form of therapy. Their report will appear in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics and has been issued online.

Considered to be a successor of Freudian analysis, psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on how a patient’s prior life experiences, particularly important relationships, influence their character and how they relate to others. Through exploration of a patient’s past and current relationships — including the relationship with the therapist — therapy focuses on helping the patient gain insights that can change both mood and behavior.

Full story of psychodynamic therapy for depression at Science Daily