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Building optimism may be the key to fighting depression

Building optimism may be the key to fighting depression
20th October 2011

A new psychotherapy could help depression patients cultivate an optimistic outlook, according to a recent study.

Instead of focusing on negative thoughts about the past through cognitive behaviour therapy, psychotherapy researchers at Cedars-Sinai have claimed that patients respond better to creating a more positive outlook about the future through future directed therapy.

Anand Pandya, interim chair of Cedars-Sinai's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, stated: "Future-Directed Therapy is designed to reduce depression by teaching people the skills they need to think more positively about the future and take the action required to create positive future experiences."

Imaging studies have shown that depressed patients have reduced functioning in the regions of the brain responsible for optimism and thus struggle to set goals and problem solve.

Researchers at New York University used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain function while participants thought of possible future life events.

When participants thought about positive outcomes, enhanced activation was detected in the rostral anterior cingulated and amygdale, which are the same brain areas that malfunction in depression.

Future directed therapy is designed to help rebuild the brain's optimism capacity.

Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with mental health concerns.