Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy

Medicine is rapidly changing in the United States from a cottage industry to one dominated by large hospital groups and corporations, but the new efficiencies can be accompanied by a telling loss of intimacy between doctors and patients. And no specialty has suffered this loss more profoundly than psychiatry.

New York Times 3/5/11 Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy,  Gardiner Harris gets into some of the reasons for this sea shift from talk therapy to drugs. While studies reveal that those suffering from depression may be better treated with talk therapy than drugs, far fewer patients receive talk therapy than did 20 years ago. Part of the change has to do with psychologists and social workers who do not attend medical school and can charge less than a psychiatrist. The result is more and more psychiatrist see their patients less often and when they do, it is for adjustment to their medication. This became clear recently when a colleague told of a therapist who suggested he was suffering from adult attention deficit disorder ADD. While there are drugs available that can help this disorder, the therapist needed to refer him to a psychiatrist to prescribe one. When asked the cost, the therapist asked if my friend was sitting? $600 was the price she told him. I don’t know if he chose that route, but this tells volumes of where things have changed.

 

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