ALPHEN AAN DEN RIJN, Netherlands, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Medical professionals may soon be able to use brain scans to determine how patients with depression or anxiety will react to psychotherapy.
In a study published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, a research team examined how specific "neuroimaging markers" can indicate treatment responses. The authors say this information can help people with major depressive disorder or other related ailments decide whether psychotherapy or medications are a more appropriate treatment.
The team reviewed 40 prior studies on patients with MDD, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other neurological diseases. While they were unable to find a single area of the brain associated with psychotherapy, they did identify several "candidate markers."
"While some brain areas have emerged as potential candidate markers, there are still many barriers that preclude their clinical use," lead author Trisha Chakrabarty said in a press release.
During the review on MDD studies, patients with higher amygdala activity were found to be more responsive to psychotherapy. However, studies on anxiety disorders revealed lower activity in the amygdala corresponded with more effective psychotherapy. Researchers say further work is needed to close in on more specific indicators.
"Future studies of psychotherapy response may focus further on these individual regions as predictive markers," Chakrabarty added. "Additionally, future biomarker studies may focus on pretreatment functional connectivity between these regions, as affective experience is modulated via reciprocal connections between brain areas such as the ACC and amygdala."