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Sunday's letters: Counseling is a key to treatment

Not so sure when there's a pill, there's a way | Aug. 7

Counseling is a key to treatment

As a licensed mental health counselor, I found this piece to be both interesting and incomplete.

When the testing of antidepressants first began, the studies included two additional components overlooked in this article, and frequently omitted in practice today.

Antidepressants were studied in a time-limited manner — commonly six weeks to three months. Today, the prescription time frame is often indefinite. A slightly savvy consumer can move from physician to physician, from pharmacy to pharmacy, and maintain a dosage spanning years.

Furthermore, the original studies required interpersonal therapy (counseling) to accompany the medication. The basic idea was to help depressed individuals bring their mood up enough to facilitate exploring the problems that created the depression in the first place. When used in this manner (time-limited and with therapy), antidepressants can be quite effective in helping people begin to face their pain and solve their problems.

However, when no interpersonal therapy takes place, and when the use of antidepressants goes on and on, not only does efficacy vanish, but the medication itself can become the problem. Side effects can be debilitating, addiction can occur, and medication seeking can lead to a host of unhealthy behaviors, including criminality.

On a deeper level, relying on medication to improve one's life takes power away from that person making changes and growing within themselves. Many counselors note that most depression starts from loss and grief. These are a part of every person's life. Finding a path through grief and loss is essential to the human condition. The finding of the path (with the support of therapy and short-term medication) builds character. The finding of the path also creates a set of tools for managing future difficulties.

In much of our world, there are no available medications for depression. And still people grow and learn, work and form relationships, produce children and have satisfactory lives. Even when their lives contain grief and loss.

Antidepressants need to be the short-term tool they were designed to be — not a permanent way of life.

Juliana Menke, MS, LMHC, St. Petersburg

Don't delay civil rights restoration Aug. 10, editorial

There are bigger issues

I am confounded as to why the Times editorial staff appears so preoccupied with the issue of restoring civil rights to convicted felons. While the national economy is floundering and unemployment is rampant, the Times is arguing why released felons should have their right to vote, and to serve on a jury, restored as "a basic issue of fairness."

Regarding the Parole Commission study, two years of data are likely not enough to establish a change in trends established by the previous eight years of data. Granted, one can argue that once released from prison, a felon has adequately served his/her time. But can anyone argue that withholding their right to vote is preventing felons from holding down jobs? And please explain how allowing an felon to serve on a jury is going to save the taxpayer money.

The Times continues its misguided argument by implying that delaying restoration of released felon voting rights is some kind of Republican conspiracy, because felons are more likely to vote Democratic. The Times editorial staff cannot truly believe that felon Democratic voting tendencies are enough to make a difference in the next election.

Released felons should be returned to being productive members of society as soon as possible — and holding down a job should be Priority No. 1. But voting rights? Please, there are bigger issues to contend with.

Scott Browning, Riverview

Religion and politics

Don't listen to extremes

All Christians are not extreme right-wing Christian fanatics, just as all of the children of Islam are not linked to extremist terrorist groups such as al-Qaida.

In America, religious freedom is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. U.S. citizens have a right to follow any faith. Although Christianity provides moral support and comfort to many, I believe we must fight against the religious right in the United States.

Candidates such as Michele Bachmann are threatening to reverse 50 years of progress in the fight for civil rights, religious freedom, gay rights, prochoice rights and antidiscrimination. Potential GOP candidates for president such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is seeking to infuse religion into politics, need to be stopped before they get started.

Religious freedom is vital to the United States. America must start moving forward, not backward.

Darcelle I. Kimatian, Lutz

Gas prices

One-way economics

It seems that the price of a barrel of oil is the biggest factor in gasoline prices.

So why does it seem as though when the price of oil goes up, prices at the pump change overnight; but when the price goes down, like it has in the last several days, I always read that it takes several weeks before the price at the pump will go down.

I guess this is what they call one-way Economics 101, contrived by oil companies, politicians and businesses alike.

William Seyfried, Palm Harbor

Think big on economy | Aug. 11, commentary

Printing money won't help

The case for a "massive stimulus" is extremely flawed. We've tried this same approach in perpetuity, hoping for different results. The rationale put forth echoes assertions like, "The other stimulus wasn't large enough." It didn't work for Herbert Hoover or FDR, nor has it worked for George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

Recklessly printing money coupled with "serious tax hikes" will not increase economic output or create jobs. Accelerating the rate of growth of inflation is the only outcome of major stimulus.

The mechanism for creating jobs and increasing economic growth is to provide a level playing field, with certainty in the marketplace. If the federal government truly desires to tackle our economic woes, it can start by eliminating the income tax on individuals and corporations and replacing it with a consumption tax.

This simple measure will instantaneously create jobs and increase the rate of growth of investment and savings without eliminating the social safety net for those truly in need.

Craig D. Schlesinger, Miami

Sunday's letters: Counseling is a key to treatment 08/13/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 12, 2011 5:23pm]
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