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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michael Joel Schrift, DO, MA (University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: This is an important and timely book, written for both clinicians and laymen, on a serious life-threatening disorder that is all too frequently misdiagnosed and undertreated, psychotic depression. (I must disclose that my assessment of this book cannot be totally unbiased, since I have been trained by, and was subsequently a colleague of, Dr. Swartz. Dr. Swartz has been an extremely productive investigator of the neurobiology of convulsive therapy and is highly influential in this field.) With this caveat in mind, this book is written and edited by a nationally recognized clinician-researcher and psychiatric historian and is a welcome addition to the medical and psychiatric literature.
Purpose: According to the authors, "this book aims to help the clinicians and trainees describe their observations of psychotic depression, formulate treatment, and express expectations of recovery from illness." It is highly informative for clinicians, patients, and their families about the kinds of experiences patients suffer and as a guide to successful treatment outcomes. The book helps readers to view psychotic depression as a distinct clinical entity with specific treatment implications.
Audience: The intended audience includes psychiatric residents, practicing psychiatrists, and nonphysician readers. It should be required reading for any clinician involved in the care of seriously ill patients with psychiatric disorders.
Features: The book is a mixture of scientific evidence, clinical opinion (albeit with some idiosyncrasy) based on many years of experience, and historical facts. The history of the concepts regarding psychotic depression as well as the differential presentation and diagnosis of the illness are thoroughly covered. Empathic understanding of patients' psychopathological experiences that is integral to the doctor-patient relationship is detailed in a very readable fashion. It is one of the factors that make this book invaluable. ECT and psychopharmacological treatment algorithms, which are quite helpful to clinicians, are covered as well. The two appendixes covering general psychiatric concepts and psychopharmacologic classes are informative.
Assessment: This is an excellent and enlightening book, written for clinicians and the public, on a "mortally dangerous" disorder. All psychiatrists need to be able to recognize and properly treat this serious condition and need to be thoroughly versed in the information contained in this outstanding book.