Understanding Depression: What We Know and What You Can Do About It

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From a leading medical expert at Johns Hopkins, here is an up-to-the-minute, definitive guide to what s known about depression and how it can be treated.

Around ten percent of North Americans suffer from depression at some point — and more than half haven t even sought help. Now, Dr. Raymond DePaulo, one of the world s foremost authorities on depression, provides a sensitive, thorough, and reassuring book for sufferers from depression and those who care about them. This ...

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From a leading medical expert at Johns Hopkins, here is an up-to-the-minute, definitive guide to what s known about depression and how it can be treated.

Around ten percent of North Americans suffer from depression at some point — and more than half haven t even sought help. Now, Dr. Raymond DePaulo, one of the world s foremost authorities on depression, provides a sensitive, thorough, and reassuring book for sufferers from depression and those who care about them. This practical guide for individuals with depression and their families — the only totally comprehensive book in the market — shows readers how to identify the problem, then directs them to the various forms of treatment, including medications, psychotherapy, support groups, and exercise. It is one of the few books to discuss in depth manic depression, the bipolar form of depression. Dr. DePaulo discusses both mainstream (the latest medications and talk therapies) and alternative paths and reveals the truth about the dangerous fallacies that abound about depression. Comprehensive, compassionate, and grounded in the very latest research into brain chemistry, psychology, and medications, this is a definitive, landmark roadmap to one of the most devastating — and common — mental illnesses.

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Editorial Reviews

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)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471430308
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/22/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 263,252
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

J. RAYMOND DePAULO Jr., M.D., is the Henry Phipps Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and founder of the Affective Disorders Clinic at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Internationally known as a clinician, teacher, and research expert on depression and manic-depressive illness, Dr. DePaulo has won many awards for research and teaching, and he has been selected as one of the "Best Doctors in America" in each of the three editions of the book.
LESLIE ALAN HORVITZ is a freelance writer based in New York.

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Table of Contents





1. The Experience of Depression.

2. The Experience of Mania: Bipolar Disorder.

3. Who Is at Risk for Depression?

4. Recognizing Depression in All Its Forms and Guises.

5. Stressful Events: When People Get Depressed.


6. What Do We Know About the Brain?

7. Genes and Depression: The Fateful Inheritance.

8. Hormones, Headaches, and Heart Attacks.


9. Depression, Manic Depression, and Relationships.

10. Destructive Behavior.

11. Facing up to Suicide.


12. Getting Help for Depression.

13. Making the Diagnosis Is the First Treatment.

14. Medical Treatment.

15. The Different Kinds of Drugs.

16. Psychotherapy: Treating the Person.

17. ECT, Light, and Other Medical Treatments.

18. Alternative Treatments.

19. Hospitalization: A Guide for Patients and Families.

20. Getting Back to Normal.

21. Going Forward.

Appendix A: Insurance.

Appendix B: Helpful Organizations.

Appendix C: Helpful Books.




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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2003

    Just what I needed to hear!

    After being diagnosed with Dysthymia Disorder a couple of months ago I wanted to read as much as I could about depression and what I can do for myself along with my therapist. This book is so great! It validated exactly what I've been feeling since I was about 13 years old. I highly reccomend it for anyone who thinks they might be suffering from any form of depression.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2003

    A good overview of depression

    This is one of the most thorough books on depression that I've read. The book covers so much territory that novices and experts alike will surely learn quite a bit. The quality of writing is quite high, though some sections could possibly have been shortened. The organization of the book is pretty straightforward and intuitive, and I found this to be a smooth and easy read. My biggest criticism is that I would have liked to see the author open up a little more with more insider tips and idiosyncratic findings, rather than tending a little more toward reserved generalities. Nonetheless, the book is still quite detailed and well worth reading if you're interested at all in the subject of depression.

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