Psychotherapy as an epigenetic ‘drug’: psychiatric therapeutics target symptoms linked to malfunctioning brain circuits with psychotherapy as well as with drugs

Psychotherapy may be just as effective as psychopharmacology in treating psychiatric disorders. Psychotherapy focuses on psychodynamic and psychoanalytic prinicples while psychopharmacology is based on neurobiology. In the past, more emphasis was placed on psychopharmacology to treat psychiatric disorders. This article suggest that a psychotherapy could change the brain chemistry, eliciting the same results as drug therapy. Circuits in the brain are affected by efficiency of information processing. Many different disorders, that have various symptoms, are marked by inefficiency to process information, this could be too high or too low. By stimulating brain activity, symptoms of the disorder should be alleviated.

Psychotherapy can now be defined by its psychodynamic aspects and its capability of inducing epigenetic changes in the brain. The best approach is to combine psychotherapy and drug therapy. A study found that using cognitive behavior therapy and SSRIs to treat SSRI resistant depression was more effective than just medication treatment. This combination of treatments was also found more effective in treating adults with depression. The article states the best therapies to use in this combined approach are cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy.

Psychotherapy can activate epigenetic changes in the brain, or change brain circuits. This is the effect that psychopathic medications can also elicit. Given the limitations of both psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals, a combination of the two is best for therapies.

Stahl, S.M. (2011). Psychotherapy as an epigenetic ‘drug’: Psychiatric therapeutics target symptoms linked to malfunctioning brain circuits with psychotherapy as well as with drugs. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2710.2011.01301.x

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