(NaturalNews) Recent research published by the journal Biological Psychiatry
has shown that psychotherapy techniques do much more than reduce the symptoms of certain psychological disorders.
Psychotherapeutic intervention also affects underlying biology, including the physical structure of the brain.
The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Psychiatry and Addictions and the University of Szeged in Hungary. Research involved 39 individual volunteers who had been diagnosed with PTSD.
For comparison, there were also 31 individuals who had lived through a traumatic experience without developing PTSD.
Before the study began, both groups underwent blood sampling to measure their levels of the gene FKBP5, which has been linked to a risk for developing PTSD. They also had an MRI done to map their brain regions.
Before undergoing therapy, patients with PTSD showed lower levels of FKBP5 gene expression, as well as smaller hippocampal and medial orbitofrontal cortex volumes.
These regions of the brain are particularly important to emotional regulation, memory, and learning.
After initial testing, the patients with PTSD underwent 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy. At a follow-up appointment, patients were retested. Researchers found that when compared to previous results, patients had increased FKBP5 expression and increased hippocampal volume.
Additionally, these changes were directly correlated to improved symptoms. The increased gene expression and hippocampal volume predicted the amount of improvement in their symptoms.
This is big news for returning soldiers and trauma victims.
Even bigger news...
According to Dr. Szabolcs Keri, leader of the research team, the study shows that biological and structural changes in the brain
that affect trauma victims are reversible.
Furthermore, the study helps to link the occurrence of PTSD symptoms with stress-related alterations in the brain. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help reverse these biological alterations and improve the PTSD symptoms. The FKBP5 gene also helps to balance levels of cortisol, a well-known stress hormone at the cellular level.
The study also increases our understanding of the human brain. The results suggest that brain structure, gene expression, and psychological behaviors are all closely interrelated.
When positive changes occur in one area, other areas are affected.
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