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A clear explanation for those who know the illness personally and for those who want to understand them
Depression has been a scourge
of mankind since the dawn of ages. Vivid images from historical and religious
texts describe sufferers of the illness we now know as depression.
An "equal opportunity" illness, it exempts no one based on race, sex, creed,
religion, social status, or nation of origin. It affects one in five
of us and its potentially lethal outcome--suicide--is the third leading
cause of death among American teenagers. What is this illness that
costs us $44 billion each year? What does it look like? Is
it moodiness? Is it the result of a character flaw? Can we
just "snap out of it"?
Understanding Depression explores the reality
of the illness from the author's twin perspectives as a psychiatrist and
as a family member who experienced the tragedy of depression first hand.
Using examples from her practice, the author discusses the different types
of depression, the kinds of people at risk, and the risk factors of suicide.
In understandable terms the book looks at the way the brain works and how
the body communicates with it, including recent discoveries about how the
process fails in depression.
The book mirrors the author's belief that
understanding depression is only half the battle. Taking personal responsibility
for fighting the beast is equally important. Treatment methods, discussed
here, include various forms of psychotherapy, different classes of antidepressant
medications, and the controversial subjects of "shock" treatment and involuntary
Understanding Depression also offers tips for
fighting depression day by day. Finally, the book takes a look at
the cutting-edge research that holds promise for better management of depression
and at new weapons to combat it.
Patricia Ainsworth is a psychiatrist in private practice and is an
assistant professor (part time) in the department of psychiatry and human
behavior at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.