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Talk Therapy May Have Saved His Life

August 25, 1996

Times Health Writer Shari Roan's Aug. 14 story, "Talking Up Talk as Therapy of Choice," questions whether talk therapy is becoming less relevant in the treatment of mental health disorders:

In the mid-'80s, I was diagnosed as suffering from major depression. Since then, I have been on a constant "diet" of drug therapy as well as talk therapy. Even while being on strong doses of antidepressants, I have slipped into severe, suicidal depressions.

All I will say about talk therapy is that if it wasn't for the constant support of my psychotherapists--two in particular--I would not be alive today.

Depression and other mental disorders are complex. In many, if not all of them, biochemical imbalances and other physical problems are part of the problem and medication may be part of the solution. But mental disorders and illnesses must be looked at as a jigsaw puzzle with a million pieces. Drugs are only a few of the pieces needed to complete the whole picture. Others include talk therapy, diet, exercise, socialization, rehabilitation, stress-management, change in lifestyle and, greatest of all, love and understanding.




In response to "Talking Up Talk as Therapy of Choice," I would like to add that this split between talk and medication has affected the entire mental health profession. It reflects both the deepening split between the mind and body in modern medicine, as well as the demand for a quick fix that is endemic to our society. Using the the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is like looking through my car owner's manual--what's the name of the part that needs to be fixed or replaced.

Medication is necessary for some, and helpful for others. For many it provides short-term relief, but doesn't address the long-term issues that will continue to resurface in the person's life. Unlike cars, humans have a psyche and a soul, which sadly are being neglected.


Culver City

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