Psychotherapy works best early in the morning

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Psychotherapy works best early in the morning

Posted on : Monday 10th of October 2016

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If you have been trying to get over your fear of crowds or public spaces through exposure to them, try wading in early in the morning because that is when the level of cortisol, the stress hormone which helps the mind develop new reactions to fear triggers, is highest.

To test this idea, researchers recruited 24 people with fear of crowds or public spaces. The participants met with therapists for 'exposure therapy' once a week for three weeks, in sessions staggered by time. In each session, they spent at least half an hour in a new setting -- public transportation, crowded supermarket or movie theatre -- and remained there until it began to feel less threatening. Before and after each meeting, the researchers gave patients surveys to assess their symptoms, and also took saliva samples to measure cortisol levels.

Sure enough, the morning sessions were the ones where patients made the biggest gains. When they met with their therapists in the morning, patients reported feeling less panic and more control over their anxiety at the following meeting, compared with when they had their therapy in the afternoon. It seems a simple scheduling tweak could make mental health treatment more effective.

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