New Yorkers Quit Shrinks to Save Cash

Therapists see rise in "severe symptoms" and "suicidality" as patients ditch pricey therapy

It's just a tiny item, buried in the Intelligencer in this week's New York magazine (the one with the Wall Street guy with the devil horns on the cover), but the first line fills our hearts with dread:

"Strapped patients are starting to give up their shrink sessions."

Seriously? The analysis capital of the world is too broke to afford analysis? The city so obsessed with psychotherapy that one of its most famous chroniclers, Woody Allen, wrote approximately half of his entire career's worth of jokes about shrinks, people seeing shrinks, shrinks seeing shrinks, and so on?

It's hardly surprising, given that uninsured shrink sessions can run you from $200 to about five times that, given the degree level and specialties of the analyst in question, but it does leave us a bit concerned that the entire city -- which is already pretty angsty, what with massive layoffs, 401ks plummeting, and the NYC housing market no longer acting like the great impervious exception to the national downward trend -- is getting ready to blow a gasket.

One Chelsea psychiatrist says some of his patients are now "going to internists for their meds" and "doing their best to maintain some sense of calm," while a doc at Columbia who's lost 10 percent of his patients claims he's seeing "more severe symptoms, including suicidality."

Naturally, the analysts themselves are cautioning New Yorkers against stopping therapy out of financial worry, especially during the holiday season, when "depression is at a high." (And they can't shrink you for free: that "distorts the process," according to one analyst.) So it's official: Shrinks are scared of the recession, too!

Do we need couch time now more than ever? Maybe if Woody Allen can ditch his shrink (which he did back in 1999, when he hooked up with daughter-wife Soon-Yi), we can too.

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