How Does Psychotherapy or “Talk Therapy” Work?
One of the ways that psychotherapy or talk therapy works is the same way that medications and antidepressant drugs work: by changing the chemistry in the brain.
Evidence is mounting from brain imaging studies that talk therapy can actually favorably influence both our brains and physiology. For example, studies have demonstrated that psychotherapy decreases activity in limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain, which are effects similar to those observed after a successful intervention with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other studies have demonstrated improvement in the uptake of the nerve transmitter serotonin in the brain from abnormally low to normal, functional changes in the orbital frontal cortex and striatum – which are overactive in obsessive compulsive disorder – and changes in the frontal and temporal brain regions of people with panic disorder.
There are many types of psychotherapy. That’s a good thing, because there are many types of people. One size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to therapy. Three of the most common forms of psychotherapy are psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive and behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy.
But what’s most important is finding a licensed mental health professional who you feel comfortable sitting with and talking to about your concerns. And research shows that is more important than the type of psychotherapy a psychotherapist practices.
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