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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Getting at the Roots of Teens' Depression

June 15, 2004

Although "Pills for Depression Send the Wrong Signal" (Commentary, June 11) made valid points, it neglected to address the issues at the root of teen depression and the difficulty in treating it. Our society creates virtual orphans. We need two incomes (sometimes more) to raise children. So who takes care of them? They often come from single-parent families where the parent is unable to cope financially or emotionally. When adolescents require sophisticated coping skills they haven't been taught, the parent or parents -- who didn't have the time or means to teach them these skills -- are expected to provide expensive medication, therapy and take time off work (this can jeopardize employment) to take their children to the therapist (which requires health insurance that many can't afford).

Until society treats children as more than just consumers in training, there will be no solution to this problem. As with any disease, prevention is much more effective than treatment.

Jan Martin

Winnetka

The commentary misses the point, at least as far as my situation was concerned: You have to be alive to attend those helpful shrink sessions. A year ago I terrified my wife with frequent, spontaneous bouts of weeping. I had planned and rehearsed my suicide. I lived in a black depression that no amount of love or sunshine could penetrate. Death was imminent.

My wife and I recognized the urgency and I got emergency medical and psychiatric help. The medication I am on I credit with saving my life. I am also attending regular therapy sessions and am functioning extremely well, personally and professionally. For me, lengthy therapy would have been a fatal luxury.

M. Ross Thomas

Malibu

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