but in contradistinction to the previous post,

there’s this from the NYTimes magazine.

Please read the whole thing (if you haven’t already), but here’s a blip:

The point is the woman was depressed for a reason; her pain was about something. While the drugs made her feel better, no real progress was ever made. Thomson’s skepticism about antidepressants is bolstered by recent studies questioning their benefits, at least for patients with moderate depression. Consider a 2005 paper led by Steven Hollon, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University: he found that people on antidepressants had a 76 percent chance of relapse within a year when the drugs were discontinued. In contrast, patients given a form of cognitive talk therapy had a relapse rate of 31 percent. And Hollon’s data aren’t unusual: several studies found that patients treated with medication were approximately twice as likely to relapse as patients treated with cognitive behavior therapy. “The high relapse rate suggests that the drugs aren’t really solving anything,” Thomson says. “In fact, they seem to be interfering with the solution, so that patients are discouraged from dealing with their problems. We end up having to keep people on the drugs forever. It was as if these people have a bodily infection, and modern psychiatry is just treating their fever.”

Thomson describes a college student who was referred to his practice. “It was clear that this patient was in a lot of pain,” Thomson says. “He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t study. He had some family issues” — his parents were recently divorced — “and his father was exerting a tremendous amount of pressure on him to go to graduate school. Because he’s got a family history of depression, the standard of care would be to put him on drugs right away. And a few years ago, that’s what I would have done.”

Instead, Thomson was determined to help the student solve his problem. “What you’re trying to do is speed along the rumination process,” Thomson says. “Once you show people the dilemma they need to solve, they almost always start feeling better.” He cites as evidence a recent study that found “expressive writing” — asking depressed subjects to write essays about their feelings — led to significantly shorter depressive episodes. The reason, Thomson suggests, is that writing is a form of thinking, which enhances our natural problem-solving abilities. “This doesn’t mean there’s some miracle cure,” he says. “In most cases, the recovery period is going to be long and difficult. And that’s what I told this young student. I said: ‘I know you’re hurting. I know these problems seem impossible. But they’re not. And I can help you solve them.’ ”

Thomson describes a college student who was referred to his practice. “It
was clear that this patient was in a lot of pain,” Thomson says. “He
couldn’t sleep, couldn’t study. He had some family issues” – his parents
were recently divorced – “and his father was exerting a tremendous amount of
pressure on him to go to graduate school. Because he’s got a family history
of depression, the standard of care would be to put him on drugs right away.
And a few years ago, that’s what I would have done.”

Instead, Thomson was determined to help the student solve his problem. “What
you’re trying to do is speed along the rumination process,” Thomson says.
“Once you show people the dilemma they need to solve, they almost always
start feeling better.” He cites as evidence a recent study that found
“expressive writing” – asking depressed subjects to write essays about their
feelings – led to significantly shorter depressive episodes. The reason,
Thomson suggests, is that writing is a form of thinking, which enhances our
natural problem-solving abilities. “This doesn’t mean there’s some miracle
cure,” he says. “In most cases, the recovery period is going to be long and
difficult. And that’s what I told this young student. I said: ‘I know you’re
hurting. I know these problems seem impossible. But they’re not. And I can
help you solve them.’ ”

IT’S TOO SOON to judge the analytic-rumination hypothesis. Nobody knows if
depression is an adaptation or if Andrews and Thomson have merely spun
another “Just So” story, a clever evolutionary tale that lacks direct
evidence. Nevertheless, their speculation is part of a larger scientific
re-evaluation of negative moods, which have long been seen as emotional
states to avoid. The dismissal of sadness and its synonyms is perhaps best
exemplified by the rise of positive psychology, a scientific field devoted
to the pursuit of happiness. In recent years, a number of positive
psychologists have written popular self-help books, like “The How of
Happiness” and “Authentic Happiness,” that try to outline the scientific
principles behind “lasting fulfillment” and “getting the life we want.”

The new research on negative moods, however, suggests that sadness comes
with its own set of benefits and that even our most unpleasant feelings
serve an important purpose. Joe Forgas, a social psychologist at the
University of South Wales in Australia, has repeatedly demonstrated in
experiments that negative moods lead to better decisions in complex
situations. The reason, Forgas suggests, is rooted in the intertwined nature
of mood and cognition: sadness promotes “information-

processing strategies
best suited to dealing with more-demanding situations.” This helps explain
why test subjects who are melancholy – Forgas induces the mood with a short
film about death and cancer – are better at judging the accuracy of rumors
and recalling past events; they’re also much less likely to stereotype
strangers.
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