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JaymElaine's picture

Psychotherapy and the Brain

I found this week’s topic to be quite interesting, mostly because I was not aware that psychotherapy was as effective as it is. Understanding that some neurological medications are not nearly as effective as one would think they are, now knowing more about the use of pyschotherapy, it seems to be a more reasonable approach to treating some neurological disorders as over-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression. And although such psychotherapy treatments as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) do not work for everyone and are sometimes just as effective as pharmacological treatments, if I had to choose, I would rather take the talk therapy before treating with drugs. For as our guest speaker so eloquently stated, "the brain uses its own plasticity to heal itself," and in my opinion, this is the better treatment.

Because I was so intrigued by the use of CBT and its efficacy for treating OCD and depression, I wanted to know if this type of psychotherapy can be used to treat other disorders. So, I went on a hunt for other disorders that also use CBT as a treatment on one of my favorite websites, Google Scholar (the best for finding awesome journal articles on basically anything!), and my search came back with some interesting results. CBT is often times used to treat bulimia nervosa and even severe functional bowel disorders. CBT as a treatment for bulimia nervosa is not as effective as one would think. This psychotherapy only works about half the time, and in most cases patients relapse and/or end up taking antidepressant drugs (the link for the study is below; check it out!) However, surprisingly, CBT is really effective for functional bowel disorders (FBD)! A study was done to test the clinical efficacy and safety of CBT for FBD; such bowel disorders tested were irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional abdominal pain, painful constipation, and unspecified FBD. Results showed that the 70% of the randomized sample who received CBT improved in their various conditions of FBD; roughly 73% of the randomized sample who received antidepressants also improved. So this shows that although CBT is not more effective than drug use, it is just as effective as drug use, and in my book, makes it less invasive and a better option. Now why they would use antidepressants to treat FBD, I have no idea. The link for the study is located below. Perhaps one of you guys can answer that! Enjoy!


CBT and Bowel disorders website:


Treatment of bulimia nervosa with CBT


Jayme E. Hopkins, '08


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