Talk therapy has proven time and again to be every bit as effective as drugs for conditions like depression--without the nasty side effects.

So why don't more people use it?

Some can't be bothered... but plenty of others can't get it even if they want it-- and a new report shows why: Many psychiatrists no longer offer it.

Thank your friendly neighborhood insurance company for that--because they've stacked the system in favor of meds.

A shrink can earn a $90 reimbursement for a 45-minute talk therapy session... or he can earn $150 for three 15-minute visits in which he gives meds to his patients, according to a recent report in the New York Times.

That difference adds up fast.

The Times doesn't mention why insurers like it this way, but it's not too hard to figure out: It's cheaper.

Once a shrink has you on meds, the insurance companies are only on the hook for a generic drug prescription and a 15-minute visit every few months to renew it.

Talk therapy, on the other hand, requires regular and frequent visits--several times a week for more serious problems, such as severe depression.

But since talk therapy works, insurers can't justify refusing it.

So they did the next best thing: When they slashed the reimbursement rate, they knew docs would start refusing it on their own.

Everyone wins, except the patient.

One shrink told the Times he used to see 50 or 60 patients for 45-minute sessions once or twice a week. He knew his patients, and he knew their problems.

Now, he no longer offers talk therapy at all. He has 1,200 patients who he sees for just 15 minutes at a time--and if one wants to talk about some of life's problems, he reminds the patient that he's only there to adjust their meds.

Then it's quickly on to the next patient. He says it's like being a Volkswagen mechanic.

The worst part of all? Many of his patients seem to like it that way--they don't want the chitchat.

They just want their drugs.

Don't fall into that trap... if you're seeking help from a psychiatrist and he's only interested in giving you meds, you're in the wrong office.

A skilled naturopathic physician can detect and treat the types of nutritional and hormonal deficiencies that are often behind psychological disorders such as depression.

And if you want talk therapy, you can still get it--just not from a psychiatrist. Try a psychologist, social worker or therapist instead.

The only question now is... will you make the time to work with one--or just opt for the quick convenience of a 15-minute visit to renew your prescription?