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The Myth of Depression as Disease: Limitations and Alternatives to Drug Treatment (Contemporary Psychology) Hardcover – December 30, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Any college-level health collection, especially those strong in mental health concerns, must have The Myth of Depression as Disease: Limitations and Alternatives to Drug Treatment: it goes where few books so clearly have gone before, arguing that there's little actual scientific evidence for treating depression as a biological disorder to be treated with drugs. Indeed, the authors say, there is very little known about the role of biology in depression; but marketing by pharmaceutical companies has perpetuated the myth of chemical imbalance and treatments to benefit their bottom lines. Therapy is under-explored in contrast, and should be one of many alternatives to drug therapies: that's the hard-hitting contention of The Myth of Depression as Disease, which should earn much classroom discussion as well."

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California Bookwatch



"[A] brief, tightly reasoned argument about the limitations of the medical model applied to the explanation and treatment of depression….This seems to be a crucial time for mental health care, one in which critical evaluation of our assumptions and models is much overdue, and psychologists have an obligation as scientist practitioners to shape understanding of depression. This volume is a good reminder of the value of our science."

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PsycCRITQUES



"Is there a biological foundation to depression? The pharmaceutical industry's direct-to-consumer advertising would have one believe that not only is depression a biological phenomenon, but that the specific medications they are advertising can remedy the disorder. Just take a pill and the sun begins to shine! However, this slim volume by Leventhal and Martell indicates that the answer may not be so straightforward. In the tradition of Thomas Szasz (The Myth of Mental Illness, rev. ed., 1974), the authors take a very controversial position by questioning the biological basis for depression. They regard the scientific research supporting the biological view as weak. This view, however, is quite profitable for drug companies. After questioning the scientific validity of the biological research and calling into question the motives of the pharmaceutical industry, the authors proclaim an alternative treatment for depression--behavior therapy. This is not surprising, given their training and background. Perhaps most important is the authors' daring to put forward an argument that counters big pharma and the biotech industry. They raise questions about the extent of market influence on scientific theory and research. This clearly written volume contains several instructive appendixes. Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and up."

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Choice



"[T]wo prominent and prestigious clinical psychologists, dissociate themselves from the nation's mainstream mental health establishment, and in harsh, no-holds-barred rhetoric, accuse the medical and psychiatric professions of scandalous, irresponsible, and duplicitious collusion with the drug industry to promote a biological disease model of despression, anxiety, and related disorders requiring costly unnecessary medication validated by dubious research studies. This book should be required reading for all potential prescribers of antidepressants and also for all potential consumers of antidepressants."

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The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease



"Leventhal and Martell take a contrarian position in their contention that pharmaceutical companies and mental health professionals have, with little scientific proof, promoted the notion that depression is a biological disorder best treated with antidepressant medications. The authors argue that marketing by drug producers has encouraged the public to accept dubious claims about antidepressants and has led doctors to prescribe them excessively. Leventhal and Martell conclude that psychological therapy is a more effective and safer treatment for anxiety and depression."

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SciTech Book News



"The title of Allan Leventhal and Christopher Martell's book might give readers the impression they are simply trying to challenge the current dominance of the medical model of depression. While that most certainly is one of Leventhal and Martell's top priorities, the issues that they take on are far broader, ranging from the undue and inappropriate influences that the pharmaceutical industry can exert on clinical research, limitations in government agencies' oversight of the pharmaceutical industry, and bias in the education of customers and health providers about mental health treatment options and their effectiveness. The authors' style is an interesting mix of scholarship and investigative reporting….I strongly recommend this book to clinicians and to individuals who are experiencing symptoms of depression and who want to have a broader understanding of mental disorders and treatment options."

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The Behavior Therapist

Review

"Eye opening. Should give people contemplating options for depression food for thought." (Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., F.A.C.P., Director, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Ctr, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)
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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary Psychology
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger; 1 edition (December 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275989763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275989767
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,320,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Here are some recent journal publications relevant to the book:
1. Leventhal, A.,(2008), Sadness, Depression, and Avoidance Behavior, Behavior Modification, 32, 759-779.
2.Leventhal, A. and Antonuccio, D., (2009), On Chemical Imbalances, Antidepressants, and the Diagnosis of Depression, Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 11, 199-214.

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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By John J. Boren on March 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an impressive book. It will open a lot of eyes, especially eyes that watch ads for antidepressive medication on television. The authors wrote the book for people who feel depressed and need more information and for professional caretakers who want a better understanding of treatments for depression.

The authors argue that there is little reason to go along with the theory that defects in brain chemistry cause depression. When a person is locked in depression, it may well be that his brain chemicals change. However, the authors can't find evidence for the widespread belief, fostered by pharmaceutical companies and biological psychiatrists, that depression is a disease caused by defects in the brain. Some people may indeed inherit a susceptibility, possibly via brain chemistry, to develop depression, but without an interaction with life experiences the predisposition would be unlikely to affect them.

Antidepressant drugs, obviously needed say the pharmaceutical companies if depression is a disease of brain chemistry, can be shown to have a moderate therapeutic effect. However, the authors, based on reviews of a large number of placebo-controlled research trials, found that most of the positive effect could be attributed to a placebo reaction-another eye opener.

The authors view depression, not as a brain disease, but rather as a mood and behavioral disorder resulting from adverse life situations. "It's Not Your Brain; It's Your Life" is their title for a section of Chapter 3. Depression might result from the death of a spouse or the loss of a vocation where the person fails to find a replacement, or, more commonly, from the long-term avoidance of risks of pursuing deeply-held life goals or intimate relationships.
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11 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Evans on December 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
While presenting a useful approach to its treatment, this book misses some of the larger truths of depression. The authors of "The Myth of Depression as a Disease" espouse the belief that depression is a cognitive disorder that can be treated solely through methods that focus on personal control over the behavioral underpinnings of the disorder. In essence, the book centers on the thesis that patients can "behave their way out of depression." While this sort of approach is useful and certainly powerful when applied effectively, the authors miss the point that depressed patients often lack any semblance of the personal autonomy or motivation that the effective implementation of cognitive behavioral therapy requires.

The authors go to nearly hysterical lengths to paint pharmacological treatment of depression as both misguided and destructive. Despite the fact that SSRIs and other drugs have helped millions of people to cope with depression, the authors are given to sweeping dismissals of these compounds. They assert that the research backing the use of pharmacological agents in treating depression is dubious at best, then go on to make their own dubious claim that roughly 80% of the reported effects of SSRIs can be attributed to placebo effect. This pattern repeats itself throughout the book in manner reminiscent of the worst investigative journalism: broad claims levied against a malefactor (in this case, psychiatric medicine) supported by questionable evidence.

This argument is both unhelpful and truly baleful to people suffering with depression. I've often heard those opposed to the practice of psychiatry describe anti-depressant drugs as a "crutch," this being intended as a denigration of these drugs.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By abp on July 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book disturbed me so greatly that I'm going to spare myself the torment of also reviewing it. Next time you're wondering if depression is as "made up" as these authors claim it to be, why don't you ask some of the 14 million people (in the US alone) who deal with it on a daily basis.

The false equivalency here is that just because medicine doesn't have as clear a picture of brain function as it does, say, heart function, that all its ailments are therefore imaginary. If we can't explain it, it's not real. If you're interested in something along these lines that bashes the field of psychiatry, might I suggest Scientology. At least they have Tom Cruise.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Any college-level health collection, especially those strong in mental health concerns, must have THE MYTH OF DEPRESSION AS DISEASE: LIMITATIONS AND ALTERNATIVES TO DRUG TREATMENT: it goes where few books so clearly have gone before, arguing that there's little actual scientific evidence for treating depression as a biological disorder to be treated with drugs. Indeed, the authors say, there is very little known about the role of biology in depression; but marketing by pharmaceutical companies has perpetuated the myth of chemical imbalance and treatments to benefit their bottom lines. Therapy is under-explored in contrast, and should be one of many alternatives to drug therapies: that's the hard-hitting contention of THE MYTH OF DEPRESSION AS DISEASE, which should earn much classroom discussion as well.

Diane C. Donovan, Editor

California Bookwatch
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