No More Talk Therapy – Just Take a Pill

March 7th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

I earnestly believe that there is not a single individual (sane, neurotic or insane) who could not benefit from regularly seeking treatment from a professional psychotherapist. Even the President of the United States, at whom we often look as perhaps the sanest, calmest, coolest and most collected person one can ever set eyes upon, can certainly profit from psychotherapy (especially the president  – the guy with the most important job in the world and all the stress that comes with it); after all therapy is merely sitting down (or lying down) and openly and honestly discussing one’s problems, doubts and troubles with an intelligent and understanding trained professional whose greatest strength is perhaps listening (a very rare and undervalued attribute). But, most of all talk therapy along with medication is a necessity for people who suffer from severe depression or clinical depression

Sadly, I read yesterday on the front page of the NY Times, that very few of the 48,000 psychiatrists in this country (U.S.) offer talk therapy and instead simply take out their prescription pads and write out scripts for an SSRI (a Paxil-like anti-depressant now universally prescribed for depression) and perhaps a benzodiazepine (Xanax or Klonopin) for that dreadful anxiety. Why is this the case? And why no more psychotherapy? The answer to this question and the reason for most problems we Americans and all people face is simply – MONEY!  

Allow me to elaborate; insurance companies don’t consider clinical depression to be a disease, though the American Medical Association does, and therefore won’t cover the expense. And as a result of this egregious and unjust system we now have millions of clinically depressed people walking around contemplating suicide and even perhaps harming others. (As William Styron pointed out in is amazingly short yet awe-inspiringly accurate book – ‘Darkness Visible – A Memoir of Madness’, clinical depression at its extreme is, make no mistake – madness.) Furthermore we now have an epidemic of depressed people who in addition to battling their depression are also addicted to Psycho-pharmaceuticals.  

Here is another Catch-22 – if you’re severely depressed, you can’t work, and you have no money and no insurance anyway. Those who are lucky enough to work through their dire situation will more than likely see a psychiatrist because only a psychiatrist (who is a Medical Dr.) can write out a prescription and honestly with real clinical depression, medication is more important but sadly not enough. And again we have the money situation – it’s cheaper to spend 15 minutes with a Psychiatrist every 3 months for $150 than see a psychologist at $75 for 45 minutes but in order for talk therapy to work, a patient should be seen at least once a week. So you see – talk ends up being more expensive than the pills. 

Now, as for the rich – of course there are no problems – Woody Allen and Howard Stern can have a psychiatrist/psychologist and pay anywhere from upwards of $600 – $2,000 an hour (another blog – one of the plethora of privileges for the rich). Also, trust me on this one; there are a lot of awful, inept psychologists who are “nuttier” than anyone out there. Bottom line is all the good talk therapists are taken (another blog). 

My Opt. –ed. Blog is an open forum and I am brutally honest, and furthermore I consider the people who comment, read, and support my (our) Opt. ed. blog as family. So I will reveal to my readers that I have suffered from clinical depression, addiction and a panic disorder (I’ve had it since high school). Fortunately, I have had help from amazing doctors and loved ones and haven’t suffered from the ‘Black Dog’ (Winston Churchill coined this –a great man who perhaps saved western civilization as we know it – see there is nothing to be ashamed of ! Life is hard – people get sick) in more than 5 years and though I do get anxiety attacks from time to time, I am a very happy man and consider myself cured.   

So now it’s your turn WHADAWETHINK ? Our country is in debt as it is and our health care system is just a mess. Does anyone have a panacea? Any solutions out there? Have you ever suffered from depression ? Please share ! 

Now the most awful part of the job – begging you to click on the Amazon widget and purchase something, Note, Amazon sells everything, I use it all the time, even before I started blogging I bought everything there. Note DON’T go straight to Amazon, I won’t get credit – click here and get whatever you want. And please if you don’t need anything from Amazon that’s fine too. We enjoy the comments more than money. We’re indeed starving artists but we’re lucky enough to do what we love –which is to write. I hope you enjoyed reading this, 1/2 as much as we enjoyed writing it! Please come back. Fresh, thought- provoking material everyday.


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2 Responses to “No More Talk Therapy – Just Take a Pill”

  1. Sal Paradise Says:

    I agree with your ‘bottom-line’ logic as regards the transformation the practice of psychiatry, but must contest your depiction of the state of psychotherapy, which is actually thriving. The fact is, the vast majority of talk therapy conducted today is done by licensed, Master’s level social workers and counselors, of which I am one. Psychiatry has completely gone the way of the medical model, for which the complex individualism and utter unpredictability of psychotherapy are anathema. In Pennsylvania, there frankly isn’t much left to the domain of psychiatry; with my Master’s degree and license I’m able to diagnose my clients just as any psychiatrist could, and I’m a hell of a lot cheaper. Healthcare Management Organizations love me, so do my clients who have co-pays. Of course, I can’t prescribe medications, but I guarantee you that today far more psychotropics are prescribed by family doctors (primary care physicians) than psychiatrists, and those same family care practices often seek my recommendations. The HMOs have progressively stripped psychiatry of everything which made it such a unique specialization. As a profession it is quickly becoming obsolete.

  2. Michael Tabor Says:

    Thank you for the input and I’m certainly glad to hear that talk is thriving in some areas of the country. Unfortunately , I personally just get my meds filled by a psychiatrist – it’s the old 15 minute session. If I wanted to get counseling from a trained professional as yourself, I would have to shell out an additional $75 for each visit, which I just can’t afford @ this time. (Incidentally, family Dr.’s are reluctant to prescrbe any controlled substances which unfortunately I need – xanax for my panic disorder – another blog)
    The thrust of the Ny times article was basically what you just said (I didn’t really touch on this) Most of the 48,000 practicing psychiatrists feel useless. They have have 12 yrs of graduate work, medical school and an internship and all they do is write out prescriptions. That’s really sad !
    What really saddens me is that MOST insurance companies won’t cover psychiatric or psychotherapeutic sessions. That sucks and is unfair. The working poor always get screwed. Great stuff Sal and I apprectiate this additional information.

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