Reviewer: Pamela Vergara- Rodriguez, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This pamphlet-like review book contains basic information and simple tables with key points on depression.
Purpose: The purpose is to review the basic elements of diagnosing depression in the general population. It also reviews the basic epidemiology, comorbidities and standard treatments for depression. The authors aim to educate primary care practitioners on the importance of diagnosis and treatment of depression. Although the authors try to maintain a simple approach, the material lacks evidence-based information as well as a practical guide to distinguishing the various antidepressants. The authors place little importance on the need for a full resolution of depressive symptoms.
Audience: This book appears to be written for primary care practitioners or other practitioners who take part in the care of depressed patients. However, given the nature of the basic information offered, any layman could easily follow and learn from this book. The language, layout, and content of this book feels more like an informational pamphlet that could be offered to the general public rather than a concise guide for physicians.
Features: It provides a fundamental, layman-like understanding of depression. The book reviews information that is typically learned at a medical student level including epidemiology, diagnostic criteria, suicide risk, distinction from anxiety disorders, and treatment guidelines. The writers do not add any significant information to the general knowledge of most primary care practitioners. The best aspect of this book is that it is short and easily reviewed in one sitting. A table of contents in the front of the book and a list of resources along with an index in the back of the book give some guidance.
Assessment: This book is more useful as a way to disseminate basic information on depression to the general population rather than to physicians. The general practitioner would better benefit from a review on the special uses of each antidepressant and their side effects. The general practitioner would also learn more about the nuances of diagnosing depression from a standard psychiatric textbook. The second edition of this book adds information on the treatment of children which is likely unnecessary for the family practitioner or pediatrician who should refer to a child psychiatrist. This second edition is improved with new resources at the end of each chapter.