Long-Term Psychotherapy Effective For Chronic Mental Disorders

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Patients with chronic, complex mental disorders who do not benefit from short-term psychotherapy benefit from long-term therapy.

A team of researchers from University of Giessen in Germany analysed data of 1000 patients who took part in 23 studies. The patients were suffering complex mental disorders and personality disorders. Researchers found that patients who underwent long-term (at least one year long) psychotherapy scored better than 96% of those who underwent short-term therapy. The study also reported that the effect of long-term therapy lasted long even after finishing the treatment cycle.

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"Long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy showed significant, large and stable treatment effects, which even significantly increased between end of treatment and follow-up assessment," said Dr. Falk Leichsenring of the University of Giessen.

Overall, there is a significant decline in psychotherapy use. In 1996 and 1997 44% of mental disorder patients were receiving psychotherapy, which the number of such patients decreased to 29% in 2004 and 2005. This is mostly due to higher costs associated with long-term psychotherapy: insurers do not agree to pay for a long-term therapy, they prefer drugs instead, which cost less.

However, this research urges that drugs give only short-term results, while long-term psychotherapy educates patients with complex mental disorders to cope with the disease they suffer from. Researchers urge that the costs should not be the criteria to measure treatment success and it is important to recognize psychotherapy as an effective treatment, despite of its costs.

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