After my long absence (moving is SUCH a pain!) I was back in the radio taping saddle this morning. I interviewed Dr. Richard O’Neill about a report issued earlier this month touting psychotherapy (counseling) as the therapy that helped keep 74 percent of those women studied relieved from their depression. The report was found in the American Journal of Psychiatry. If you prefer reading the report in plain English, understandable to us mere patients, try this version from PsychCentral.com.
I don’t usually report on mental health issues. My hands and heart stay full with ideas and commentary about physical health — but in this case, I’ll make an exception, because the role of pharmaceutical drugs is so huge in this report and as we all know, those drugs are intended to alter the physiology of the body.
Here are the basics of the report: 74% of women who were depressed and chose psychotherapy only (NO DRUGS) for treatment, then continued on a monthly basis with their counseling (STILL NO DRUGS) kept their depression in remission. It seems that continuing to discuss their problems with their therapists on a monthly basis kept their depression at bay.
Women who were diagnosed with depression and were treated with antidepressants AND therapy did not have the same result. They continued to need the drugs.
Some thoughts to share:
In our quick fix society, it’s too easy to prescribe a drug that sends someone who may not really need it into a la-la land, where they won’t care. This study seems to say that prescribing the drug to begin with may also doom that person to needing the drugs for the rest of her life.
More and more studies are showing the mind-body connection; that is, that activities such as talking or exercising can affect brain chemistry and raise seratonin levels which elevates the mood. Yet, doctors continue to grab the prescription pad for their patients to supply the quick fix when their patients are depressed or anxious.
Why is it that doctors are not more insistent on providing their patients with different advice — such as referring them for therapy instead of writing a prescription? Three reasons I can think of: First, because they don’t have the training to recognize when a patient needs counseling instead of drugs. Second, because they can’t or won’t take the time to figure out the right avenue for their patients. And third — because insurance will cover the drug whereas it may not cover the therapy.
Sharp patients know that mind-altering drugs, no matter whether they are prescription or illegal or grown in the backyard, can only lead to more problems down the road when they aren’t absolutely necessary for maintaining their mental health. Sharp patients will ask their doctors about therapy when they need their mental status improved and will avoid mind-altering and mood elevating drugs whenever possible.
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