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Understanding Depression: What We Know and What You Can Do About It Hardcover – February 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0471395522 ISBN-10: 0471395528 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471395528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471395522
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,030,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"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 ingredients." So explains DePaulo (How to Cope with Depression), psychiatry professor and director of the Affective Mental Disorders Clinic at the Johns 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.)40-year-old organization that supports brain research.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"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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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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This is an excellent book that I would highly recommend for anyone struggling with the depression.
LookingForHelp
The organization of the book is pretty straightforward and intuitive, and I found this to be a smooth and easy read.
Avery Z. Conner
This book helped me understand the science of how the brain works with the various chemicals and drugs.
S. Rasco

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is not a bad book, all in all. It covers a lot of useful territory, and for someone recently diagnosed who doesn't know a lot about depression, it might be a decent place to start. But, for those of us who are not starting from scratch, this book doesn't add much, if anything, to better books already out, and it falls short of the mark in some important ways.
My gripes with this book fall into two main categories. First, the book lacks detail in critical areas. For example, in the section on medications, there is only a passing reference to the sexual side effects of the SSRIs, and there is no discussion of how patients can deal with that problem -- i.e. reduce dosage, switch to another medication, augment the SSRI with another drug, etc. The author should know that sexual side effects like anorgasmia and reduced libido affect a huge percentage of people who take SSRIs, and that these side effects diminish the quality of many patients' lives and create serious compliance problems. I'm shocked that this important subject is given such cursory treatment. The section on meds also lacks details concerning dosages, augmentation, and withdrawal, important topics all. So much for the book jacket promise of a "cutting edge" discussion of medications! At the same time, the book is fairly long, and probably not an easy read for someone truly suffering from depression. If a reader is expected to plow through this much text, he or she should at least be rewarded with more detail and "state of the art" information, as promised.
Second, there are some pretty egregious errors in the medication sections. The charts covering various meds are a great idea, and they could be very useful, but they are replete with mistakes.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bohdan Kot on January 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Understanding Depression" is a clear and concise view of the illness through the eyes of "a psychiatrist who has seen in consultation, teaching, research, and treatment settings some 8,000 people with clinical depression and manic-depressive illness."

Dr. J. Raymond DePaulo Jr., M.D. is not only a psychiatrist, but also a psychiatry professor and the director of the Affective Mental Disorder Clinic at John Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. DePaulo has written a cogent book at what it means to suffer from depression and its possible causes. The psychiatrist also covers various aspects of manic-depression, but the lion's share of the book covers the illness of depression. Despite numerous advances in medical science, we are still not clear on what causes depression. Dr. DePaulo states, "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 ingredients."

Where the book becomes shortsighted is within the sections dealing with the treatment of depression. The doctor advocates the use of traditional and cutting-edge medication as the cure for the vast majority of people throughout the book. It is not surprising that a psychiatrist does not go in depth concerning alternatives to drug therapies, but Dr. DePaulo covers only an astonishing 9 pages regarding alternative treatments such as exercise, nutrition, or talk therapy. In fact, large portions of the text read like a long pharmaceutical advertisement.

In the end, "Understanding Depression" is an invaluable guide to just that, understanding depression.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Rasco on July 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have major depressive disorder. This book helped me understand the science of how the brain works with the various chemicals and drugs. As far as the experience or treatment, there wasn't much that I found personally relevant or didn't already know or that went into enough depth for me.

The book is a basic guide to understanding depression and does not offer any sort of cure or ideal treatment plan. That's not the point of it. The information is presented categorically and clearly with the resources cited, should you like to go further. The more common methods of treatment are presented with explanations of how they work and why.

However, this book was an excellent resource for the other people in my life who have been affected by my depression. They don't need or want to know all about the treatment options and experience in great depth. They do need to know some of the why's and how's and that it's not their fault. My parents found it to be quite helpful in understanding what was happening with me.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Avery Z. Conner on March 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most thorough books on depression that I've read. I don't agree with one of the other reviewers who stated that those who are very familiar with depression may not learn too much from this book- it 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. Avery Z. Conner, author of "Fevers of the Mind".
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