Questions & Answers on Psychiatric Medications

Tadao Ogura, M.D.


Are Psychiatric Medications Always Necessary?

Not always. In fact, I have treated many patients without the use of any medication at all. However, since I am a psychiatric specialist, most of the patients I see have moderate to severe psychiatric conditions, and I generally treat many of my patients with medication or a combination of medication and other treatment modalities. Nevertheless, I have treated 62 commercial airline pilots, who were suffering from severe anxiety and/or major depressive disorders, without using any psychiatric medications whatsoever.

To give you some background, commercial airline pilots are not allowed to take any "psychotropic medications" under the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration. If they take any psychiatric medication, they must be grounded while on medication and must remain "symptom-free" at least three more months without medication before they can be re-certified to fly again. Therefore, these pilots were highly motivated to attempt non-medication techniques and I was willing to work with them.

I had developed what I called a "Trans-Dimensional Approach"-a combination of special Controlled Breathing techniques combined with imagery techniques, various physical stimulation techniques, nutritional modifications, and psychological techniques such as "Paradoxical Intention Technique." All but four out of the sixty-two pilots I treated returned to work within three to six months. Out of the four who did not return to their jobs, two recovered, but decided to retire, one had to be hospitalized for his suicidal tendencies and the fourth had decided to go to another doctor.

I have used these same techniques with other patients who have shown an interest in non-medication techniques in the past, but strangely, I have had only limited success with them. I have attributed this to the fact that the airline pilots were unusually motivated (because they could not go back to work without overcoming their psychiatric conditions without medication). Also, they had all day and night to practice the techniques of my Trans Dimensional Approach, since they had been grounded, whereas most people have "too much going on" in their daily lives to focus on the daily practice sessions.

Thus, if you have great Motivation, and if you have plenty of free Time, you can probably do without medication in most non-life threatening situations. But, whether or not medication is or is not necessary or appropriate for you must be determined on a case-by-case basis.


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