Monday, February 10, 2014

The Biopsychiatric Bluff

Dear Dr. Zev,
I'm a junior in college. I started seeing a psychologist about a year ago because I suddenly lost all of my confidence and began avoiding social situations. When this happened, I was too self-conscious to take my final exams, so I took "incompletes" in all my classes and moved back to the safety of my parent's house. It was then, that I started to see a psychologist. 
When I first met Dr. Jack, I saw that he was brilliant and very charismatic in a soft-spoken way. His office and waiting room were lined with books.  I was immediately drawn to Jack's confidence. Whenever he spoke, he had a little smile and a knowing twinkle in his eyes. I could see why so many people believed in him.  
In my second session, Dr. Jack gave me a blank piece of paper and a pencil and told me to draw a picture of a house, a tree, and a person. It took me about 10 minutes to complete. From these drawings, Jack diagnosed me as suffering from "endogenous depression." He contrasted endogenous depression to reactive or situational depression. He said that reactive depressive was a temporary depression that resulted from reacting to a trauma or other precipitating event and was not biological in origin. He told me that endogenous depression is a more complicated and serious type of depression which is biological in origin. This meant that I needed to take anti-depressant medication. Dr. Jack told me that talk therapy by itself would not be enough to help me. 
As Dr. Jack continued to explain the difference between the two types of depression I felt myself sinking deeper into hopelessness.  It was very painful to hear that the core of who I am is a damaged and defective person who was incapable of being happy like other people. In effect, the doctor told me that my whole identity was to be depressed. As I left his office, I never felt so bad about myself in my life. My whole existence had just been reduced to nothing - I felt like killing myself. He even dismissed whatever happiness I remembered as "isolated experiences." Due to my biological impairment, he was sure that I have always experienced an underlying depressive mood. 
I couldn't fight his logic. My doctor convinced me that I have endogenous depression. The problem now is what to do about it. Even with the medication and therapy that I'm receiving, I'm still not feeling any better. What's your advice? 
Sincerely Yours,

See my answer to Jonathan right here...

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Blessings for a great week!
Dr. Zev Ballen