Background: Epigenetic modifications appear to be dynamic and they might be affected
by environmental factors. The possibility of influencing these processes through psychotherapy has
Objective: To analyse the impact of psychotherapy on epigenetics when applied to mental disorders.
The main hypothesis is that psychological treatments will produce epigenetic modifications related
to the improvement of treated symptoms.
Methods: A computerised and systematic search was completed throughout the time period from
1990 to 2019 on the PubMed, ScienceDirect and Scopus databases.
Results: In total, 11 studies were selected. The studies were evaluated for the theoretical framework,
genes involved, type of psychotherapy and clinical challenges and perspectives. All studies showed
detectable changes at the epigenetic level, like DNA methylation changes, associated with symptom
improvement after psychotherapy.
Conclusion: Methylation profiles could be moderating treatment effects of psychotherapy. Beyond
the detected epigenetic changes after psychotherapy, the epigenetic status before the implementation
could act as an effective predictor of response.
Keywords: Epigenetics, DNA methylation, psychotherapy, psychopathology, gene-environment, mental disorders.
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