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DepressionLaw and Ethics$
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Charles Foster and Jonathan Herring

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198801900

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198801900.001.0001

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Is Treating Depression Like Treating Appendicitis?

Is Treating Depression Like Treating Appendicitis?

(p.159) 15 Is Treating Depression Like Treating Appendicitis?

Paul Biegler

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes an ethically defensible approach to treatment that does not remove depression as one would an inflamed appendix. Treatment should instead, it is argued, transform depression by discerning its value as an insight into various threats to the sufferer’s interests. Psychotherapy elucidates the stressors that trigger depression, equips people to deal with unrealistic pessimism, and promotes personal autonomy. The value of autonomy as an instrument to well-being is a primary moral driver of the case for psychotherapy in depression. It is concluded that doctors must recommend psychotherapy, either stand-alone or as an adjunct to antidepressants, in all cases of major depression.

Keywords:   treatment, depression, pessimism, autonomy, psychotherapy, negative emotion, appendicitis, antidepressants, negative affect

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