Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Original Article

The role of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy in improving attachment patterns, defense styles, and alexithymia in patients with depressive/anxiety disorders

O papel da psicoterapia psicodinâmica de longo prazo na melhora de padrões de apego, estilos de defesa e alexitimia em pacientes com transtornos depressivos e de ansiedade

Mojgan Khademi; Mahmoud Hajiahmadi; Mahbobeh Faramarzi

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Abstract Introduction Long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (LTPP) emphasizes the centrality of intrapsychic and unconscious conflicts and their relation to development. Although there is evidence supporting the efficacy of LTPP in mental disorders, little research has been published on the efficacy of LTPP for depressive and anxiety disorders. Objective To examine whether patients with anxiety and depressive disorders demonstrate improvement in their attachment styles, defense styles, psychiatric symptoms, anxiety/depressive symptoms, and alexithymia with LTPP. Methods In this retrospective, descriptive study, the psychological outcomes of patients who were treated at the psychoanalytic clinic of Babol University of Medical Sciences were assessed. Fourteen patients diagnosed with depressive or anxiety disorder participated in the study of LTPP using the self-psychology approach. The Beck Depression Inventory II, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Adult Attachment Scale, 40-item Defense Style Questionnaire, and the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale were administered at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 6-month follow-up. Generalized estimating equations were used to analyze changes in psychological outcomes after each of the three assessments. Results The mean scores of depression and anxiety and secure attachment improved significantly after LTPP with self-psychology approach from baseline to post-treatment and follow-up. Also, the mean scores of neurotic and immature defenses, difficulty in identifying feelings, difficulty in describing feelings, externally oriented thinking, and total alexithymia scores decreased significantly from baseline to post-treatment and follow-up. Conclusion Symptoms of anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, insecure attachment styles, alexithymia, and neurotic/immature defense styles improved after the LTPP with self-psychology approach. Moreover, the improvements persisted at the 6-month follow-up.


Long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy, self-psychology, depression, anxiety, attachment, defense styles, alexithymia


Resumo Introdução A psicoterapia psicodinâmica de longo prazo (PPLP) enfatiza a centralidade dos conflitos intrapsíquicos e inconscientes e sua relação com o desenvolvimento. Apesar da evidência em favor da eficácia da PPLP em transtornos mentais, há poucos dados sobre a eficácia da PPLP em transtornos de depressão/ansiedade. Objetivo Examinar se pacientes com transtornos de depressão/ansiedade demonstram melhora em seus estilos de apego, estilos defensivos, sintomas psiquiátricos, sintomas de ansiedade/depressão e alexitimia com PPLP. Métodos Neste estudo retrospectivo, descritivo, os desfechos psicológicos de pacientes tratados na clínica psicanalítica da Babol University of Medical Sciences foram avaliados. Quatorze pacientes com diagnóstico de transtorno de depressão ou ansiedade participaram do estudo sobre PPLP com abordagem de psicologia do self. O Inventário de Depressão de Beck II, o Inventário de Ansiedade de Beck, a Escala de Apego do Adulto, o Questionário de Estilo de Defesa-40 e a Escala de Alexitimia de Toronto-20 foram administrados antes e após o tratamento e no seguimento de 6 meses. Equações de estimação generalizadas foram usadas para analisar mudanças nos desfechos psicológicos após cada avaliação. Resultados Os escores médios de depressão/ansiedade e apego seguro melhoraram significativamente após PPLP com abordagem de psicologia do self do início do estudo ao pós-tratamento e seguimento. Além disso, os escores médios de defesas neuróticas e imaturas, dificuldade em identificar sentimentos, dificuldade em descrever sentimentos, pensamentos orientados externamente e escores totais de alexitimia diminuíram significativamente do início do estudo ao pós-tratamento e seguimento. Conclusão Sintomas de transtornos de ansiedade, transtornos depressivos, estilos de apego inseguro, alexitimia e estilos de defesa neuróticos/imaturos melhoraram após PPLP com abordagem de psicologia do self. Além disso, as melhoras persistiram no seguimento de 6 meses.


Psicoterapia psicodinâmica de longo prazo, psicologia do self, depressão, ansiedade, apego, estilos de defesa, alexitimia


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