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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Brett C. Plyler, M.D.(Northwestern Memorial Hospital)
Description: This book explores the idea that our current concept of depression is flawed because it does not include the context or circumstances in which the depression occurred.
Purpose: The purpose is to demonstrate that human sadness has been misclassified as depression.
Audience: The book is written for both mental health practitioners and lay people.
Features: In their discussion of the flaws in our definition of depression, the authors detail a number of reasons why normal, human sadness has been wrongly included as a depressive illness. They begin with a historical examination of depression versus sadness and proceed forward in time to consider the modern contributors to the misunderstanding of sadness. The authors consider a number of reasons for this, but a few stand out: the DSM and its definition of depression that needs more qualification to distinguish it from sadness more readily; scientific publication on depression that has become an industry unto itself; and the widespread availability of antidepressant medications.
Assessment: This is an interesting and thought provoking book that underscores the need to examine more fully each patient's psychological illness and the factors contributing to it. Though a well trained mental health practitioner should be able to distinguish sadness from depression, the authors do an excellent job of breaking down the flaws in the mental health field, particularly the problems with the DSM, that have led to the sudden explosion of depressive diagnoses over the past 25 years. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding depression more fully and the place normal sadness has in our society.