Is Treating Depression Like Treating Appendicitis? Depression: Law and Ethics

Paul Biegler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDepression
Subtitle of host publicationLaw and Ethics
EditorsCharles Foster, Jonathan Herring
Place of PublicationOxford UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)97801988019 0
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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