-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- As a component of depression
treatment, psychotherapy not only reduces anxiety, but also
improves patients' stress hormone levels, new research shows.
The study, published in the current issue of
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found that when pharmacotherapy is combined with psychotherapy in treating depressed patients, there is an improvement in their levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Researchers examined 63 people diagnosed with major depressive
disorder. Participants were divided into two groups: 29 received
combined therapy, which included psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy,
and 34 had monotherapy, which included only pharmacotherapy. The
patients' depressive symptoms were tested at regular daily
intervals over the course of eight months.
The study found that although decreases in symptoms were similar
between both groups, by the eighth month, reductions in anxiety
were greater among those in the combined therapy than in the
patients who underwent monotherapy. Moreover, a steeper daytime
cortisol pattern was more likely among those who had the combined
therapy, compared to those who were treated with drugs alone.
Researchers concluded that the improved outcomes of the combined
therapy group suggests the addition of psychotherapy helped reduce
anxiety and produced long-term positive effects on stress hormone
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more information on
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