Are psychiatrists simply highly educated bartenders or hairdressers, where for insurance subsidized fees people can safely pour out their hearts and get sympathetic nods and sage words of advice?
Hang in their Buddy, life’s tough, but you’ll make it.
Yeah, your husband’s a real jerk; you deserve better.
Plus, as an added bonus, the shrink will toss in a dozen tranquilizers or sleeping pills…
The answer is not complicated. It’s NO!
Most people who use the “paid friend” analogy are either ignorant of what psychiatrists do or are very defensive and fearful of what issues are lurking within themselves.
The symptoms of depression, such as sadness, loss of energy, negativity, and sleep disturbances, just to name a few, can be transient, chronic, mild or severe. There are numerous types of depression — Dysthymia, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorders, postpartum depression, cyclothymic disorder, psychotic and non-psychotic types, suicidal, non-suicidal, substance abuse induced depression, depression associated with medical disorders etc. etc. Each type and each individual requires a different form of treatment.
It’s true that Louie the bartender can try and cheer you up with a free drink (although alcohol makes depression worse). Jacques the hairdresser can flatter you with a new look and distract you from the negative feelings that are so haunting that sometimes life feels unbearable. But, it’s often only a psychiatrist or other mental health professional that can make a clear diagnosis and recommend a form of treatment that will address the underlying problem and personalize the treatment depending on each person’s needs.
Imagine the relief of finally knowing what you’re suffering from and getting the appropriate help.
On second thought, I think I’m being a little too rigid. Getting a new haircut is definitely not off the table… Maybe after treatment is successful, you’ll look in the mirror and decide you need to look more positive, or wild, or unique and give Jacques a call. Fine! See Jacques whenever you want. He is very charming, and it feels especially good to get your hair washed and your scalp massaged…
7 thoughts on “WHEN DEPRESSED, WHY WASTE YOUR MONEY ON A PSYCHIATRIST? ISN’T HE JUST A PAID FRIEND? by Art Smukler MD”
The relief you get from a friendly ear will always be a temporary fix. When you work on it with a psych professional, you are working on changing it for good! And it may get worse before it gets better – a lot of people won’t tolerate that!
You are absolutely right about the dangers of using a bartender or hairdresses as a quasi-therepist. The the huge basic difference is that their relationships are COMMERCIAL and talking to a qualifed Psychiatrist and/or Psychologist is THERAPEUTIC. On the surface, they look the same: talk is talk. On rare occasions, you might find a very talented, humanistic salesperson. But the real reason they are relating to you is their business. And the advise could be dead wrong and even detrimental but sound good under the influence of alcohol or the relaxation of a hairdryer.
As you pointed out, the opportunity to talk about personal issues, to a trusted confidant, can relieve situational depression, for a period of time. When the depression is debilitating, the consult of a qualified mental health professional is paramount!
So where did the term “shrink” come from?
Good post, Art. As always you are thinking clearly. Best, PP
Thanks Gill! I always appreciate your thoughtful and insightful comments.
Nicely put, I have fibromyalgia and sometimes get depressed, I also get down which isn’t the same thing at all (another thing people don’t understand)… but my best friend has bipolar which is a world away. ‘Cheer up, it might never happen’ is liable to evoke a rather rude response from me… with her it’s liable to send her even deeper into the ‘pit’.