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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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October 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 7)

Psychotherapy could work best in the morning
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Psychotherapy could work best in the morning image

Tried psychotherapy and it didn’t work? Then try it again, but this time make sure it’s a morning session. Our levels of cortisol, a hormone that helps us cope with fear, are at their highest before lunch, and this could make a therapy session for anxiety, fears and phobias more effective.

The theory has been tested on 24 people with panic disorder and agoraphobia, a fear of public spaces, who had three weekly therapy sessions which used ‘exposure therapy’, where a patient is put into a situation that can induce panic or fear.

Although all the patients improved over the three weeks, the greatest improvements were achieved in sessions that took place in the morning. Researchers from the Southern Methodist University reckon that the success was due to the patients’ higher levels of cortisol, although they accept that other factors could also be at play, such as having better attention following a good night’s sleep.


(Source: Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2016; 74: 197)

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