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I was most disappointed in The Baltimore Sun's decision to print "Antidepressants: a deadly treatment?" (April 11). To take the horrible tragedy of Germanwings flight 9525 perpetrated by a tormented, complex individual and boil it down to it being caused by the taking of antidepressants is as simplistic as it is disrespectful.

While I am not qualified to comment on the causes of this terrible event, as a child and adolescent psychiatrist who has walked many a painful journey with patients and families in treatment, I can say that major depression can ravage lives, and yes, even kill the patients it afflicts.

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Medical treatments are complex, imperfect and can have side effects, some serious. Medications must be appropriately monitored, sometimes very closely.

However, these treatments can be extremely effective. Certainly when I hear the despair either in the office or at NAMI meetings about failed treatment attempts, both medical and non-medical, I absolutely wish we had better medical treatments to offer those with serious mental illness.

However, I have often seen the relief in a family's eyes after a loved one is treated successfully, and the healing that comes with lives reclaimed with successful antidepressant treatment.

There is no panacea in treating major depression. But please, the real villain in the antidepressant story is not the treatment but the illness.

Dr. Stuart R. Varon, Lutherville

The writer is an assistant professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

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