A Psychiatric Diagnosis is Not a Disease

“Here is the circular logic: How do we know a patient has depression? Because they have certain symptoms. Why are they having these symptoms? Because they have depression.”

This article by Dr. Jonathan Shedler has been published in Psychology Today. It begins:

“In my first week as a psychiatry faculty member, an advanced psychiatry resident—I’ll call her Dr. G—staffed a case with me. That’s medical speak for discussing a patient with a teacher. Dr. G gave me some demographic information and then began listing medications she was prescribing.

‘Hold on,’ I said. ‘What are we treating her for?’


‘How do you understand her anxiety?’

Dr. G cocked her head to the side with a blank, non-comprehending look. I rephrased. ‘What do you think is making your patient anxious?’

She cocked her head to the other side.

‘What is causing her anxiety?’

Dr. G pondered, then brightened. ‘She has generalized anxiety disorder.’

‘Generalized anxiety disorder is not the cause of anxiety,’ I explained. ‘That is just the label we use to describe it.’

Another blank look. I tried a different tack …”

You can read more from here.

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