The drug companies are at it again, they and the medication enthusiasts. As far as they're concerned, all therapy is no more helpful than having a chat to an old friend. Doesn't benefit you one bit, except for the old saw; 'a problem shared is a problem halved.' |
It can't be denied that there's been a great increase in psychopharmacology over the past ten years and of course the marketing efforts have more than kept pace accordingly. So it's now becoming 'de rigeur' to look upon any form of therapy as costly, ineffective and a waste of time. The result of all this is that patients who formally would have tried therapy enthusiastically, are now turning away from it in preference to medications.
But the leading therapists haven't been idle, either, especially those specializing in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT. Growing evidence from brain imaging research suggests strongly that C.B.T. shows changes in the brain which are very similar to those produced by medications, ('when they even work,' one researcher couldn't help slip in!).
But what is cognitive behavioural therapy? It emphasizes the role our thoughts play in how we feel. The interesting part is that even if we continue to suffer the same, stressful thoughts without any external change on their part, the idea is to change the way we think about them. By exercising this ability, a highly negative condition such as depression, can be prevented from taking over a patient.
It's the old story, really. The therapists role is to help the patient look at life generally in a far more rational and balanced way, not in the depressive worst case scenario, all-or-nothing thinking pattern.
However, researchers are particularly excited by the success C.B.T. has shown in treating patients suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This condition involves thoughts of continual anxiety that spin around in your head, but in your mind may be mitigated by some form of 'ritual.' Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, O.C.D., patients respond to Prozac, or C.B.T., or both.
It still isn't understood what causes O.C.D., but hyperactivity in the brain cells is consistently noticed in those suffering from O.C.D. They have a way of measuring this with increased levels of glucose, which is seen on O.C.D. patients on brain imaging, most particularly in a part of the brain called the caudate nucleus.
Intriguingly, treatment with either Prozac or C.B.T. seems to reverse it. They carried out a study comparing Prozac to C.B.T., and used the brain scanning technique known as positron emission tomography. The idea was to measure the rate of glucose metabolism in the O.C.D. brain after Prozac alone and after therapy alone.
Not only were the results identical, but with C.B.T. there are no side effects.
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