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Dr. Abboud Assaf, one of the most notable psychiatrists in Lebanon, said in his website that:

Common Misconceptions: Psychiatric Disorders are incurable

Are psychiatric disorders (e.g. depression) curable?

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    I didn't see a definition of "curable" on that site. The dictionary definition isn't exactly what I thought it would be: it's, "(of a disease or condition) able to be cured. "most skin cancers are completely curable" synonyms: remediable, treatable, medicable, operable, responsive to treatment "most skin cancers are curable"" ... and cure is defined as, "relieve (a person or animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition" – ChrisW May 8 '15 at 9:41
  • I thought this was the definition of treatment, in other words cure means you end the mental illness. – Shougo Makishima May 8 '15 at 9:45
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    Well, mere "treatment" doesn't necessarily have any effect at all. IMO medication can relieve (i.e. end) symptoms of mental illness e.g. psychosis. Maybe for some people that (ending) is enough, they can then recover from the experience or situation and wean off the medication and remain symptom-free, i.e. the medication is only for emergency/as-needed use if the symptoms ever return. Other people might need to have a permanent prescription, to stay symptom-free ... but even "permanently symptom free, with medication" might (and perhaps should) count as a cure. – ChrisW May 8 '15 at 9:56
  • The above is not-a-referenced-answer and should maybe be deleted if we stop discussing "what is the question asking?" – ChrisW May 8 '15 at 9:58
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    I think the question would be improved if it would focus on a specific disorder like depression. – Christian May 8 '15 at 10:40
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Yes, some psychiatric disorders are curable.

I was chatting to a research psychologist once about treatability of mental disorders. She told me specific phobias are easily treated with a high success rate with a single session with a therapist.

Here is one example study that looked at arachnophobes, and agrees that a single session with a therapist is effective.

The proportion of clinically significant improved patients at follow-up was 80% in the therapist-directed group

For completeness, yes, "specific phobia" is recognised by the DSM, so it can be safely considered a mental/psychiatric disorder.

Unreferenced Aside: I was very surprised, and asked if phobias are so easy to treat, why are there people still suffering from them? Apparently, people convince themselves that, while they have a phobia, they aren't suffering from it, and don't seek treatment. I offer no evidence of this; it is an appeal to an unnamed authority, but I found it interesting, nonetheless.

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  • The fact that there are psychologists out there you can treat a phobia in an single session doesn't mean that every psychologist can. If you end up with a Freudian psychologist you might end up speaking about traumatic experiences for months without the phobia being solved. – Christian May 8 '15 at 11:32
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    @Christian: I'm not sure of your point. That some people can't cure it doesn't mean it is incurable. (Side note: Does anyone describe themselves as a Freudian psychologist?) – Oddthinking May 8 '15 at 13:09
  • I think this all is missing a proper definition of "curable". Basically if we e.g. are talking about phobias, then it is still there, just driven down to a level that doesn't differ much from everyone else, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there are possible situations out there that can make it resurface. – PlasmaHH May 8 '15 at 13:47
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    @PlasmaHH if a person can overcome the phobia to the extent it no longer interferes with their life, then its cured. they may still have the fear, in the back of their mind like you said, but the actual disorder is that the fear is causing an over response, if you can control this to the point there no longer is an over-response its no longer a disorder. Fear is not a disorder. – Himarm May 8 '15 at 14:36
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    @Oddthinking - nothing better unless the question gets meaningfully clarified, sorry. – user5341 May 9 '15 at 0:17

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