Your daily hormone cycle plays an important role.

Huffington Post sleep writer Sarah DiGiulio covered the latest research of SMU clinical psychologist Alicia Meuret for the online news hub.

The article, “The Science-Backed Reason To See Your Therapist In The Morning,” published Oct. 25.

Meuret is director of the Anxiety and Depression Research Center at SMU, with expertise in discussing the differences between fear and anxiety and when each is helpful and adaptive and when they are harmful and interfere with our lives.

An associate professor in the Clinical Psychology Division at the SMU Department of Psychology, Meuret received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Hamburg based on her doctoral work conducted at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University and the Affective Neuroscience Laboratory in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.

Her research program focuses on novel treatment approaches for anxiety and mood disorders, biomarkers in anxiety disorders and chronic disease, fear extinction mechanisms of exposure therapy, and mediators and moderators in individuals with affective dysregulations, including non-suicidal self-injury.

The article “The Science-Backed Reason To See Your Therapist In The Morning,” cites new findings from Meuret’s research, which found patients undergoing exposure therapy for anxiety fared better when sessions were held in the morning when levels of the helpful natural hormone cortisone are higher in the brain.

Read the full story.

EXCERPT:

By Sarah DiGiulio
Huffington Post

Not a morning person? There still might be a good reason to get up and at it when it comes to booking time with your therapist.

A new study found that patients actually made more progress in overcoming anxiety, fears and phobias when they went to psychotherapy in the morning versus the afternoon. In fact, a test of panic symptoms revealed that patients had nearly 30 percent more improvement after an a.m. appointment than an afternoon session.

It’s not about whether or not you’re a morning person or a night owl, study author Alicia E. Meuret, a clinical psychologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told The Huffington Post. The new data suggests morning therapy sessions are aided by higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that our bodies naturally release throughout the day.

The regular release of cortisol plays a role in ramping up metabolism and your immune system to get your body ready to go for the day, she explained. But more cortisol is released in the morning.

“There is already good evidence that learning is facilitated in the morning. There is also good evidence that cortisol facilitates learning,” she said. But this study is the first to suggest that your morning cortisol boost may also help you better face ― and deal with ― your fears and anxieties.

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