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From the Publisher"No one system, organ, or other factor is responsible for depression-not one steroid, not one gene, not one neurotransmitter, and not a lesion on one side of the brain or the other. What we seem to have is a stew with lots of different and exotic." So explains DePaulo (How to Cope with Depression), psychiatry professor and director of the Affective Mental Disorder Clinic at John Hopkins School of Medicine, in this thoughtful, exhaustive reference on depression for general readers. DePaulo covers all aspects of the illness-what it feels like; who tends to have it (women are two or three times more likely to be diagnosed than men, not necessarily the same thing); the biology of depression; possible courses of therapy; and psychopharmacology. DePaulo also discusses bipolar disorder (manic depression), and he covers both mainstream and alternative treatments. He believes doctors should involve family and friends of the patient (which, though ideal, is probably impractical for doctors on most health-care plans), and explains how the children and other family members of those with depression are affected by the disease. The chapters on finding the right treatment and how doctors make diagnoses will be extremely useful for those suffering from the disease. Though some of the writing is a touch sloppy and clunky, readers will find this an invaluable resource. (Mar.) (Publishers Weekly, March 4, 2002)
There are three audiences for this authoritative book: people who think they may be depressed, those whose condition has already been diagnosed and are in treatment, and those who are concerned about someone who is either in treatment or probably needs to be.
Dr. DePaulo, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Affective Disorders Clinic at the Johns Hopkins medical school, not only tells what the experts know, he also reveals the gap in knowledge about the causes, precipitants and treatments. Medical science, he says, is still unclear about the fundamental brain and genetic mechanisms underlying depression.
One of the most disabling aspects of the disease is that sufferers often don't even know they have it. Dr. DePaulo examines traditional and alternative therapies and provides other sources that can help.
His bottom line is that depression is worse than mere sadness or being in a "bad mood." The hallmark of severe depression, he says, is "an inclination to despair" and the inability of many people to feel anything whatsoever.
What Dr. DePaulo calls the "soul of depression" is "a sense of being anesthetized or deadened." He elaborates with an anecdote about Dick Cavett, the talk show host and writer, who suffered from depression. A psychiatrist, comparing depression to the "awful grief" he experienced over the death of his own parents, told Mr. Cavett he understood his problem based on that experience.
According to the writers, Mr. Cavett replied: "Do you think grief is anything like depression? Go with grief. It's better. In grief you're at least feeling a rich, deep feeling. In depression you don't even have that, it's just that awful feeling of nullity." (The New York Times Science Times/Health & Fitness Section, Tuesday, May 28, 2002)