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Psychoanalytic therapy takes time but effects last longer

(Vienna, 22nd October 2013) It has been proved that many mental disorders such as depression or anxiety disorders can be clearly improved with psychotherapy. With less serious and acute disorders short-term therapies are sufficient, but with severe disorders longer term therapy is needed, such as psychoanalysis. "The high effectiveness of psychoanalytic psychotherapy has been corroborated today by numerous studies," stresses Stephan Doering, head of the University Department of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy at the MedUni Vienna on the occasion of the World Congress of Psychiatry, which is taking place at the Austria Center Vienna from 27 to 30 October.

In current studies – also taking place at the MedUni Vienna – it has been proved, according to Doering, that psychoanalytical psychotherapy does indeed take more time than short-term therapies but that the effects last much longer: "Analyses take two to three years for their effect to unfold. In compensation, the positive effects of long-term psychoanalytical therapies go on increasing afterwards. Although psychoanalysis may appear expensive, it does however relatively speaking lead to a sustained reduction in healthcare costs. It pays for itself after approximately three years."

For years Doering has been promoting the complete financing of psychotherapeutic care of patients with psychological disorders in need of treatment throughout Austria by the health insurance schemes as happens in German and Switzerland for example. "In case of psychotherapy, costs are used as an argument straightaway, but with other, very cost-intensive diseases, such as high blood pressure or diabetes this does not happen. They are apparently more acceptable to society."

In Austria around 900,000 Austrians are undergoing treatment for mental illnesses. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, in 2030 depression will be the most frequent health restriction affecting humankind.

In a current study on the effectiveness of psychoanalysis, scientists at the Harlaching Clinic in Munich have proved that 83 percent of patients with depression were in remission, that is, their depressive symptoms had disappeared, three years after the end of their psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalytical treatment, in depression for example, does however also alter the function of the brain. This has been demonstrated recently in a study by Anna Buchheim at the University of Innsbruck. Says Doering: "The normalisation of brain functions through psychotherapy to a certain extent resembles that brought about by psychotropic drugs – but possibly lasts longer."
Whilst psychotherapies of shorter duration are well suited to reducing the symptoms of psychological disorders, psychoanalytical therapy also targets an alteration of the personality. Says Doering: "For instance, in borderline personality disorder psychotherapy demonstrably helps to alter the personality." The psychotherapy researcher sums up the effect: "Those with the disorder have an improved control of impulses and emotions. They have learned to live with the disorder and to handle themselves and their inter-personal relationships better".

Service: Congress of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) in Vienna
The WPA Congress is being held from 27th to 30th October 2013 at the Austria Center Vienna. Stephan Doering from the MedUni Vienna is one of the "plenary speakers" and will be speaking on 28th October (1.45 - 2.30 pm on the "Future of Psychotherapy"). Other MedUni Vienna researchers are also among the speakers in other symposia: Siegfried Kasper, Johannes Wancata, Gabriele Sachs, Rupert Lanzenberger, Henriette Löffler-Stastka, Bernd Saletu, Ingrid Sibitz, Michaela Amering, Nestor Kapusta, Johannes and Matthäus Fellinger as well as Nicole Praschak-Rieder and Matthäus Willeit. Detailed information and programme: www.wpaic2013.org.