From Publishers Weekly
Psychiatrist Sharp, professor at Harvard and UCLA medical school, combines insights from clinical and social psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, and medicine to explore how seasonal factors affect our psychological lives. He successfully describes such phenomena as seasonable adjustment disorder and offers many intriguing facts--for example, he notes that summer is the season when people feel most free, yet also the time of the most suicides. Unfortunately, Sharp attempts to cover too many topics, which often leads to meandering digressions--as in a section on "seasonal creep" in sports. Other times he states the obvious: regarding Valentine's Day, he writes, "for those in relationships, it can be a time of heightened expectations... while people without significant others face feelings of loneliness." Sharp also skimps on describing coping strategies, often offering little more than a paragraph on each of his recommendations. Sharp's book concludes with sections on medications and natural remedies for anxiety and depression, and a cheery chapter on "seasonal embrace." Readers may glean something helpful from the scientific and anecdotal material, but too much of this book is psych lite. (Jan.)
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For years, doctors have treated patients for seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—depression that occurs at the same time each year but usually in the sun-deprived fall and winter, and that affects four to ten percent of Americans. In this conversational, case-study-filled guide, Sharp, a medical doctor, elaborates on how time of year, weather, holidays, and even sports seasons influence mood. The book is surprisingly easy to read, given that it is heavy on obvious information and light on hard-core medicine, a surprise since Sharp is a neuropsychiatrist at Harvard and UCLA. Sharp credits his “team of researchers and editors,” whom one suspects played a very big role in this title. Readers who dislike anonymous sources will be displeased. As Sharp notes, he and his team change the names and identifying details about the patients and “most of the other interviewees.” Still, this book would be a helpful resource for people who want to know more about why the calendar affects mood. --Karen Springen