Review - Understanding Depression What We Know and What You Can Do About It by J. Raymond DePaulo Jr., M.D. and Leslie Alan Horvitz John Wiley & Sons, 2002 Review by Diana Pederson Dec 27th 2002 (Volume 6, Issue 52)
Millions of people suffer from the
devastating effects of depression.Far
too many are undiagnosed or are diagnosed but receiving little or no
treatment.Some people are choosing not
to receive treatment because they simply dont know what is available to mental
health professionals today.Understanding Depression provides
family physicians, depression sufferers, and their families with an outstanding
summary of what is known about depression and its treatment today.
DePaulo and Horvitz wrote this book for several
reasons.1. To provide basic
information for people who may be suffering from depression. 2. Provide an
in-depth understanding of depression and its treatment options for those
already diagnosed with it. 3. Provide an explanation of depression and the
treatment options for family members of depressed people.4. To educate everyone with an interest in
Summary of Chapter Contents
Part 1:Understanding Depression.
Understanding Depression contains 5
chapters.These chapters describe what
depression is like for the sufferer, what manic-depression is like, who is most
at risk for developing some form of depression, how to recognize depression,
and a discussion of when people develop depression.This information is presented in a way that some victims of this
disorder may be able to self-diagnosis and then seek appropriate help.Unfortunately, most depressed people will
fail to recognize themselves but family members will greatly benefit from
reading this section of the book.
Scientists are making almost daily
discoveries about how our brain functions.There is still much to learn.The authors sum up what we do know about the brain and how it
functions.A discussion of the influence
of genes on depression follows.If more
than one or two people in your family suffer this mental disorder, genes may be
involved.Scientists also know that
hormones, headaches, and even heart attacks can contribute to depression.It was particularly interesting to learn
that some pain medication has turned out to be good for depression too.Scientists are still learning how one part
of our body affects the functioning of another part such as our brain.
and Mania and Destructive Effects on the Whole Person
Either depression or manic
depression is destructive of relationships.It is extremely hard to live daily with someone who is exceptionally
moody. All too often that person becomes isolated from family and friends
because of their moodiness.Some
depressed people act out during depressive episodes.Addictions to alcohol or cigarettes and other drugs, eating
disorders, gambling, and even shoplifting frequently occurs during these
episodes.Others resort to self-injury
during these episodes.Health care
professionals, family members, and friends need to know that failed attempts at
suicide or self mutilation type behaviors is actually a serious cry for help
even if the victim doesnt recognize it themselves.Unfortunately, a severely depressed person may commit suicide if
they have received no treatment or if the attempted treatment has failed to
alleviate their symptoms.People with
depression simply choose to give up because of the devastation it causes in
Each chapter in this part covers a
different treatment for depression.The
first chapter emphasizes the need for the depressed individual to get
help.There is no set treatment that
will work for all depressed people.It
is essential to find a doctor that is prepared to help the individual over the
long term since it may take some trial and error to figure out what will help
each individual.The next chapter
emphasizes that getting a diagnosis of depression is the most important first
step towards helping the depressed individual recover and resume a normal
life.The next two chapters discuss the
use of medications in treating depression and carefully explain how each type
works.A thorough discussion of
psychotherapy, sometimes called talk therapy, the use of electric shocks,
light, and even magnets is then discussed.The chapter on alternative treatments is essential reading for those
considering treating themselves or a loved one with herbal medicine.The remaining chapters provide a thorough
discussion of hospitalization, returning the patient to normal living, and
helping them get on with life.
Who Should Read This Book?
Ive read many books about
depression because this problem runs in my family.In my opinion, this is the best book Ive ever read on this
subject.The writing style throughout
the book is easy to understand.Ample
illustrations are used to make sure the reader understands the information
being presented.The book is well
organized and clearly meets the goals set by the authors.
If you have a family member with
depression, it is essential to have this on your bookshelf.It will provide guidance as you help that
person towards recovering from this mental disease.After observing how some mental health professionals treat patients
both in outpatient and inpatient treatment facilities, I believe it should be
required reading for anyone working in such a facility.
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