I have mixed feelings about my expensive treatment for depression

/RI/The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 50s. I have an anxiety disorder and sometimes develop symptoms of depression. I feel like my life is difficult because I’ve lived with this issue for so many years.

Desperately wanting to be cured of depression, several years ago I paid for a course of treatment at a hospital that specializes in psychosomatic illnesses. The hospital boasted that 90% of its patients became free from depression in 90 days.

I visited the hospital regularly for nearly 18 months and spent about ¥400,000, including travel expenses. However, I eventually quit because I didn’t feel that my mental health really improved. I was very disappointed, because I had had high hopes for the treatment. My condition subsequently deteriorated, and I became very ill.

Several years have passed since that time, and I now live a peaceful life.

Even though the treatment is a thing of the past, I can’t help wondering why I didn’t get better, despite pouring so much time and money into it.

I realize that treatments affect people in different ways, and I did learn a few things from my hospital experiences. I’m also very grateful to my husband, who helped me with my hospital visits.

But even though I’ve turned the page, I can’t shake off how I feel about the situation.

C, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. C:

It’s certainly suspicious to claim that 90% of patients are cured of depression in 90 days. But let’s focus on how you can deal with your feelings.

First of all, when you refer to “being cured,” are you imagining that your mind becomes clear and free, like a cloudless sky on a sunny day? The human mind is like the weather: Yes, there are fine days, but there are cloudy days, too, as well as periods of rain and sudden gales.

If you feel like it’s raining 24/7, then you’re likely unwell. But if you can control your feelings just as the rain stops, you’re likely OK. Having read your letter, you seem to have changed your way of thinking, even though you still harbor frustrations about your treatment. And even though you still suffer from depression, you are now leading a more peaceful life.

It’s not easy to look at an issue from various perspectives. You say you don’t feel you got better as a result of your treatment, but I think the change in your thinking is a result of your efforts to regularly visit the hospital.

You can appreciate your husband more because you now feel calmer. Right now, I think you should feel more confident because even though you still have negative feelings, you have the ability to move forward.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist