Plasticity-augmented psychotherapy for refractory depressive and anxiety disorders

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Psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy have been the mainstays of treatment for depression and anxiety disorders during the last century. However, treatment response has not improved in the last few decades, with only half of all patients responding satisfactorily to typical antidepressants. To fulfill the needs of the remaining patients, new treatments with better efficacy are in demand. The addition of psychotherapy to antidepressant treatment has been shown to be superior to pharmacotherapy alone. However, the time costs of psychotherapy limit its use for clinicians and patients. Advancements in neuroscience have contributed to an improved understanding of the pathogenesis of depressive and anxiety disorders. In particular, recent advances in the field of fear conditioning have provided valuable insight into the treatment of refractory depressive and anxiety disorders. In this review, we studied the reconsolidation-updating paradigm and the concept of epigenetic modification, which has been shown to permanently attenuate remote fear memory. This has implications for drug-augmented, e.g. antidepressant and valproic acid, psychotherapy. Future research on more sophisticated psychotherapy techniques will increase the desirability of this treatment modality for both clinicians and patients.

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