Posts tagged ‘psychotherapy’

August 10, 2010

in therapy

by Laurie Simmons for the NY Times

It’s only been about six months since I first started seeing Dr. L, but I feel like she’s the first therapist I feel I can open up and really say what I’m thinking. But where is this all going, I ask myself as I walk to my car after a session. Her hugs at the end of each session are so comforting, but am I paying $100+ to get a comfy hug? Therapy, while it leads to closures to various issues, seems to open up new questions, not only about the process, but also about yourself.Dr. L tells me I’ve grown and changed, but how have I changed? How have I grown? Can those changes be seen by anyone besides a mental health professional? I am a student of qualitative measures, but why is it that I need some tangible, quantitative data, in order for me to be satisfied with the progress?

As I was pondering about therapy and its implications, I came across a NYTimes magazine article by Daphne Merkin titled “My Life in Therapy.”It’s an interesting read. She talks about her years of therapy. The pics posted above and below accompanied the article. They do depict that strange sense of intimidation that I feel regardless of how comfortable I feel I’m becoming in that room.

My appointment is coming up this Friday, and I’ve begun to wonder what I should talk about in my upcoming session. I know that it’s probably better to be more spontaneous with the topics that come up, but I can’t help but mull over a list of possible events in my life that could be analyzed. To the inexperienced eye, therapy just looks like you chat for an hour, but in reality, it really is work. But right now, I’m not quite sure I can put in words just what ‘work’ I’ve accomplished in the time I’ve been in therapy. Is it enough to be able to say that I’ve been doing okay, or should I be seeking for more than that? I think I’m going to address this issue at another time (I really, really need to be working something else and not on this journal….).

August 24, 2009

Study: online chatting is good for depression

Who knew that what sometimes seems like a waste of time could actually be a cure for depression?

A study conducted in England used instant messaging to chat one-to-one with a trained therapist. During the study, about 4 in 10 people who had online therapy improved to the point where they were no longer depressed. Only 2 in 10 people recovered with the usual care from a GP. The benefits of therapy lasted at least eight months.

One reason for the effectiveness may be that some people find it easier to write about their problems than talk about them. Also, unlike talk therapy, online chats can be saved on the computer, so patients can go back and reread their discussion with their therapist if they need to do so.

People seemed to get more benefit from chatting online with a therapist if they were more severely depressed to start with.

August 3, 2009

Study: Americans get more antidepressants, less therapy

USAToday.com had this article: Number of Americans taking antidepressants doubles. (It’s mainly a summary of a study that’s in the Archives of General Psychiatry.) There are a lot of interesting numbers documented in this piece:

  • By 2005, 10%, or 27 million Americans were taking antidepressants.
  • About 80% of the patients were treated by doctors other than psychiatrists.
  • Half of those taking antidepressants were not being treated for depression.
  • During the study(1995-2005), spending on direct-to-consumer antidepressant ads increased from $32 million to $122 million.

The most concerning data to me was that “among users of antidepressants, the percentage receiving psychotherapy fell from 31.5% to less than 20%.” I can’t tell from the article if this has happened because more people are using antidepressants for issues unrelated to depression, but the article does state that the main reason why people aren’t seeking therapy is because of insurance issues.  In any case, other research has suggested that therapy is an integral part of a long-term treatment plan (This article in NYTimes, for instance, is about the effectiveness of long-term therapy in bipolar depression).  It’s sad to think that many aren’t getting the treatment that they know they need because of issues related to cost.

May 14, 2009

Good Grief

The sky was tinged with gray hues, and the sound of the leaves rustling from the wind predicted the imminent shower. It’s Thursday morning, which meant I had my weekly session with Dr. A, my Dr. Melfi. We first start the hour by checking in on how the meds are working for me and how I’ve been functioning physically.

Then, usually comes the harder part of actually having to ‘talk.’ I can’t remember exactly what she asked me that prompted me to talk about my standstill. As I started to recount my thoughts from the past week, I also stared out the window since I could see the weather changes out of her window. Minutes passed, and the gray tones turned to coal and soon the rain and a flash of lightening . Whatever gray thoughts I harbored in myself also saw this time as the chance to break open in that moment. Just as the clouds are a slow accumulation of moisture, I guess I had more emotions collected than I could hold anymore.  I spoke about as openly as I ever have  about just what it feels like to be me in this moment, at this juncture as the tears poured out of me. It felt like I cried and bawled during much of the hour.

She listened as she kept handing me one sheet of tissue paper after another. But unlike the times before when we had to deal with the tears in a more medical manner (e.g. medication), she gave me a simple answer: “This is grief. It’s the process of grieving.” I had read in books about how it is okay to revisit past traumas and reprocess those moments, but it was comforting to have her tell me that what I was doing isn’t harmful or a relapse of something terrible. It is okay to feel this way.

After each session, I always say Thank you as I head to the door. It may seem like a hollow, routine greeting, but I always mean it when I say it as I leave her office.

April 23, 2009

The first attempt

I didn’t think I would be talking about this today. It’s certainly not the greatest way to kick off the morning, but I guess I’m not as uncomfortable about bringing this topic up now.

My thursday morning starts with an hour-long visit to Dr. A. She has been my Dr. Melfi for almost six years now. We talked mostly about the events and thoughts that happened over the last week, much of which are already committed to this journal. She wrote me some refill prescriptions at some point.  Near the end, we began to discuss my parents (lots to say, but always hard to write out, something I’ll do when I feel like it). In this discussion, we talked about my father’s CEA numbers (the tumor marker) that are coming up quite high. Though my mother had hinted at this result a few months ago, I haven’t been told yet exactly why that may be or if my father’s been checked for any cancer. The thing is that my father is a physician and my mother, a former midwife, so you’d think we would be a bit more upfront about our health conditions. Maybe it’s the culture, but I think my family’s moved beyond that cultural boundary, too.

Dr. A said she’s come to understand why I had such a hard time telling my parents anything, especially when it came to be about my health. As the time wound down, I mentioned how I will probably never tell them about my second suicide attempt simply because at this point, it just adds to their self-blame for my own illness. Then,  I began to speak for a minute about the very first suicide attempt, the one I told them about over a fax – a week after the fact.

When I bring up a story about my suicide attempt now, it is usually about the one that happened in August 2004. That attempt in 2003 hasn’t been on my mind lately, so it actually caught me by surprise.  I really don’t remember much of what happened because I was ‘caught’ in the middle of it by my college suitemates. I must have taken some pills and cannot recall making that trip to the ER. What I do remember is being told that I had to go straight from the ER to the psychiatric hospital. The stay at the hospital wasn’t very long, but I was pretty determined to not act like a ‘typical’ patient. I convinced my attending psychiatrist that I wasn’t trying to die. After the psych stay, I remember my therapist at the university counseling center telling me that she was mad at me for not telling her about how I felt. I remember that conversation making me feel like I wanted to die more than before the first attempt. It wasn’t like no one knew that I had suicidal ideations prior to the fact. For a good month, she and other therapists at the counseling center knew. To this day, I don’t think they thought I really meant it.

It’s odd to be remembering the night I “crossed the line” from just thinking about suicide to actually trying it. It’s a time I cannot take back; something in you just changes. I suppose I can write more about February 16, 2003, and the time surrounding it, but I stop here for now because I don’t need to be consumed by it for the rest of the day. In small doses, I can take this story. Maybe this is why I don’t think about this day that often.

I need to go to Target and buy conditioner.

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