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10/26/2022 | Pressemitteilung

Psychotherapy helps with anxiety disorders

A new study at the University of Kassel demonstrates that psychotherapy is the most effective form of treatment for anxiety disorders and depression in the long term.

The photo shows Prof. Dr. Christoph Flückiger
Prof. Dr. Christoph Flückiger (Photo: University of Kassel)

According to a recent study by the Robert Koch Institute, the mental health of many people has deteriorated significantly in the wake of the Corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine. If in the first wave of the pandemic, from March to September 2020, about 9 percent of the population suffered from depressive symptoms, their proportion rose to about 17 percent in the same period in 2022. Only 44 percent of respondents said their overall mental health was "very good" or "excellent."

Prof. Dr. Christoph Flückiger, who has held the professorship for clinical psychology at the Institute of Psychology in at the University of Kassel since August 2022, says: "The COVID pandemic showed in detail that anxiety disorders and pathological worries have not only increased, but also have a particular relevance for society." But how should this individual and equally socially relevant challenge be addressed?

In a new study, Flückiger demonstrates that psychotherapy proves particularly effective in treating anxiety disorders. "However, it was previously unclear which factors contribute to treatment success remaining effective in the long term after therapy ends," said Flückiger, who has been involved in more than 200 empirical and conceptual publications on the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

For the current study, 137 outpatient psychotherapy patients with generalized anxiety disorder from two clinical trials who suffered from excessive and highly unpleasant worry prior to therapy were examined. The research results show that during therapy, these worries normalized to usual levels in the majority of patients, and these improvements, experienced as substantial, persisted six months after therapy. However, success was said to depend on certain potential predictors (assumptions) in the area of personal and interpersonal aspects, about which little research has been done to date. These include sense of meaning and self-esteem or a positive self-image. In addition, coping with earlier crises plays a role in the longer-term success of therapy, as does social support or the quality, maintenance or preservation of current relationships.

The research results explicitly support the relevance of the current WHO definition, according to which mental health and well-being would not only be influenced by individual characteristics, but also by the societal and social circumstances in which people find themselves.

The study is open access published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorder:



Prof. Dr. Christoph Flückiger
Institute for Clinical Psychology
Tel.: 0561 804-3584
Mail: christoph.flückiger[at]uni-kassel[dot]de