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Arlin Cuncic

Magic Pills Replacing Psychotherapy

By October 29, 2008

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I came across this interesting blog post about a study from the Archives of General Psychology that found psychiatrists were being forced to limit their time with patients to 15-minute medication checkups, rather than provide psychotherapy. The reason? Insurance reimbursements favor three short sessions instead of one hour-long meeting with a client.

The blog author notes several other reasons for the shift toward medication: the public's desire for a magic pill instead of time-intensive therapy, the huge marketing power behind medication companies, and the fact that most patients who receive psychotherapy pay out-of-pocket, and few can afford to do so. Catastrophically, he notes, psychiatrists are gradually losing their psychotherapeutic skills and becoming little more than medication dispensers.

Do I agree with this blogger's take on a shift toward medication? The facts cannot be denied - the study reports that the percentage of patients receiving both psychotherapy and medication fell by around 15% between 1996-97 and 2004-05. In the end, however, is it not up to psychiatrists to offer treatment that they feel best suits their client, regardless of insurance reimbursement or marketing campaigns? I would hope that the next time I visit a health professional, the treatment that I receive is based on sound professional judgement, not how much the doctor will be reimbursed or who gave him some free samples the day before. I don't think that I'm alone.

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November 3, 2008 at 2:53 am
(1) alaska girl says:

I’m worried,Will i be over looked because its much cheaper to give me pills then give me the time needed? I dont think pills are all that we can do,theres more then just take two of theses and call me in the morning.I want to feel like i’m taking a step forward instead of popping two pills.I do believe pills can help but that cant be everything we can do.

November 3, 2008 at 10:12 am
(2) bill says:

this has been my experience for years, and now that i am applying for disability for bipolar, migraines, etc

the reports from my psychs are dismally terse and totally uninformative of any of the problems i ever mentioned, just that i was taking this and that…

November 10, 2008 at 1:06 pm
(3) Margaret Nahmias says:

That’s why you should go to separate therapist. Studies show that mecidine and psychotherapy together are more effective. I am not a big fan of just taking pills since anxiety is more of a behavioral problem that brain defect.

January 4, 2009 at 12:11 pm
(4) mike says:

I was prescribed Paxil for SAD. It’s 10 years later; I’ve tried to get off this drug many times. I’ve been off for three months now but am going through the most hellish and prolonged withdrawal experience you could ever imagine: insomnia, migraine headaches, depression, panic attacks, suicidal idealization. Theses symptoms are 10 times worse than the original SAD condition I had. Please do your research, these pills are not a solution.

More Info Here: paxilprogress.org

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