"The human brain responds to depression. Patients typically show hyperactivity particularly in the amygdala, the striatum and other limbic regions," Svenja Taubner (Department of Psychology) explains. Together with colleagues from the universities of Lübeck, Innsbruck, Heidelberg, Ulm, Bremen, Bochum and Delmenhorst, Taubner has been working on a study that investigates the changes that take place in brain functioning. She elaborates further: "Using psychodynamic therapy, we wanted to determine whether psychotherapy has an effect on these brain activities."
The researchers examined 18 unmedicated patients with recurring depressive disorders on two separate occasions. The control group comprised 17 healthy individuals. Individualized stimuli were used with all participants (sentences such as "You wish to be accepted by others." Or "Therefore you do a lot for them."). Before psychotherapeutic treatment commenced, individuals suffering from depressive disorders reacted to these stimuli with hyperactivity in certain regions of the brain.
The participants were re-examined after eight months of psychodynamic psychotherapy. Svenja Taubner summarizes the results as follows: "We were able to show that it is possible to normalize the changes in the limbic system, which had been triggered by individually tailored stimuli reflecting clinically relevant content, after eight months of treatment." A follow-up after 20 months of treatment will be reported soon.
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