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Robin Williams’ recent battle with depression has helped open everyone’s eyes to the seriousness of mental health issues. While antidepressant drugs are the first-line treatment used to combat this mental health disease, only 22-40% of patients actually respond to treatment. However, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is rapidly emerging as one of the best treatments available for depression and anxiety, reinforced by both clinical results and personal success stories

So what is CBT exactly?

It’s a form of therapy that uses tailored speaking sessions between psychologist and patient, counseling patients to ‘become their own therapists’. It stems from the idea that people with depression have certain neurological differences. The prefrontal cortex, involved in completing complex mental tasks, is less active in patients with depression while the amygdala, involved in emotional processing, is more active. So CBT hopes to get patients to monitor their thoughts and keep their prefrontal cortex more active. This helps decrease activity in the amygdala, allowing emotions to be managed more effectively. Another advantage of CBT is that the therapy allows patients to identify negative thoughts and take measures to repress them, which means benefits are seen even after the treatment has finished, in contrast to antidepressants.

How does genetics play into CBT?

Studies have shown that CBT must be personalized as external factors like a patient’s marital status or brain activity can impact how they will respond. It’s believed that certain genetic sequences present in some make them more likely to respond to CBT than others. Pharmacogenomics can already provide insights to what antidepressants are most effective for an individual, so it’s not surprising that it can help out with CBT too. While there’s hope that CBT is a big step forward in the fight against depression, there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered for this mental health disease. However, it is reassuring to know depression has become a topic of discussion, as opposed to one that should be overlooked.

What’s next?

Learn more about the importance of genetic testing by checking out our other articles focusing on Mental Health. You can also check out our article on “How to choose the best antidepressant”, and as always, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get all our latest blog updates!

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