Psychodynamic Therapy

How does this therapy effect the brain from depression?

What is Psychodynamic Therapy?


  • Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in the client's present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are client self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior.

What part of the brain does this most focus on?

This therapy helps cure the frontal lobe and also the temporal lobe. The frontal lobe is where it mostly focused on the capacity to recognize and understand their own emotions, motivations and actions. The temporal lobe focusses mainly on perception and hearing. The neurotransmitter Dopamine which regulates learning, effects emotional arousal, and affects movement. This neurotransmitter Dopamine was the area that was affected the most from depression.
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Why does depression effect the brain?

  • One study tested patients with varying levels of depression and compared them to patients with no instances of depression. The study found a 19 percent reduction in the size of the left hippocampus in patients with recurring severe depression. There was no difference in other sections of the brain.
  • Another study compared major depressive patients in remission to those who had never suffered from the condition and found reduction in size of both the left and right hippocampal regions. The study noted that reduction in size of the hippocampus

corresponded to the number of days a subject spent depressed, concluding that depression was associated with reduction in size of the hippocampus. The study also concluded, as did the previous study mentioned, that this reduction could lead to further depressive episodes .

How scientists predicted the Psychodynamic Therapy would turn out.

The ability of several process variables to predict therapy outcome was tested with 30 depressed clients who received cognitive therapy with or without medication. Two types of process variables were studied: 1 variable that is unique to cognitive therapy and 2 variables that this approach is assumed to share with other forms of treatment. The client's improvement was found to be predicted by the 2 common factors measured: the therapeutic alliance and the client's emotional involvement (experiencing) . The results also indicated, however, that a unique aspect of cognitive therapy (i.e., therapist's focus on the impact of distorted cognitions on depressive symptoms) correlated negatively with outcome at the end of treatment. Descriptive analyses that were conducted to understand this negative correlation suggest that therapists sometimes increased their adherence to cognitive rationales and techniques to correct problems in the therapeutic alliance. Such increased focus, however, seems to worsen alliance strains, thereby interfering with therapeutic change.

Why is this so important?

Like some other forms of psychotherapy, psychodynamic therapy allows a patient to speak freely, with the therapist only interrupting to ask questions or redirect the discussion. The therapist does not provide any affirmation or opinion, in hopes that neutrality will further strengthen the therapeutic relationship.