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The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic Hardcover – February 11, 2014
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Why is depression so prevalent and persistent? Why is the disorder so difficult to treat? Rottenberg, a professor of psychology who has suffered from depression, addresses those broad questions from a dual perspective as scientist and patient. Acknowledging that there is no single cause of the depression epidemic, he pushes for a new evolutionary model of mood and theorizes about the potential advantages of negative moods. For example, a low or sad mood might confer greater skepticism, deliberation, and caution in processing information. Mild depression could possibly function as an “emotional cocoon” that offers an opportunity for a time-out to ascertain what is going wrong. Rottenberg reminds readers that human beings “are not wired for bliss.” Evolution is fixated on survival and reproduction. Is it conceivable that mild forms of depression aid in achieving those evolutionary goals as crucially as happiness does? In this provocative presentation of the natural history and evolution of depression, the bottom line is, strangely, both deflating and hopeful: “Low mood is both inescapable and sometimes useful.” --Tony Miksanek
The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic has the potential to revolutionize the way scientists study depression and therapists treat depression. It can provide hope for people with depression and understanding for their families.”
A stimulating book ”
In this provocative presentation of the natural history and evolution of depression, the bottom line is, strangely, both deflating and hopeful: Low mood is both inescapable and sometimes useful.'”
An important contribution to [Rottenberg's] stated aim of promoting an adult national conversation about depression.'”
With tens of millions already on antidepressants, the expense will eventually force us to reevaluate our approach to care. The Depths is a first step.”
The personal experience of depression that Rottenberg details here lends authenticity to his mood science-focused consideration of both the origins of the depression epidemic and why it remains so tenacious and difficult to treat. As The Depths shows, our age requires innovative psychological approaches if we are to tackle the growing burden of depression and, further, to promote well-being.”
Times Higher Education
An ambitious, rigorously researched, and illuminating journey into the abyss of the soul and back out, emerging with insights both practical and conceptual, personal and universal, that shed light on one of the least understood, most pervasive, and most crippling pandemics humanity has ever grappled with.”
It's rare to come across new ideas on the nature of emotion. Drawing on his own groundbreaking research and the best science available, Rottenberg unravels some of the mysteries of depression. Why is it so common? Why is it so resistant to treatment? How does a normal bout of sadness transform into deep depression? This beautifully written book offers wisdom and hope.”
Todd B. Kashdan, Associate Professor of Psychology, George Mason University, and author of Curious?
The Depths brings meaning to moods with an informed clarity that is both personal and scholarly.”
Melvin McInnis, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School
The Depths achieves a rare level of integration of a deeply personal narrative with the best of scientific thinking. Rottenberg draws from a rich array of scientific disciplines to build the case for an evolutionary model of depression. An insightful exploration of a complex and prevalent problem, this book will appeal to anyone interested in depression.”
Sheri L. Johnson, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
A compelling inversion of conventional wisdom, arguing that depression is not only a natural response to certain conditions, it's a state that often promotes our very survival.... Rottenberg's search for the fundamental sources of depression is strangely consoling, even inspiring at points. By accounting for depression in evolutionary terms, he decisively discredits any lingering explanations of depression as a character flaw. He also achieves something equally powerful: a nuanced assessment of the ever-shifting advantages and costs of depression in various circumstances.”
Jonathan Rottenberg has written a brave, insightful book. The Depths challenges us to rethink our current conceptions of depression and to find new ways to help people experience, as Rottenberg so aptly puts it, the glory of recovery.'”
Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic
Rottenberg's practical style and talent for using real-world examples by real-world people to illustrate states of low and high mood is refreshing...the book is a wonderful first step for those who wish to better understand the illness from a scientific viewpoint. And it gives the reader hope by suggesting that depression is a common, albeit painful, human experience: that a low mood does not mean we have failed.”
The Depths presents a paradigm-changing approach to depression by clearly and comprehensively explaining the way depression really works, describing its origins, the importance of low mood, its persistence and slide into deep depression, and most encouragingly, the climb up and out from the depths. Along the way, Jon Rottenberg dispels many myths about depression, refutes beliefs that perpetuate stigma, and shines a light on recent advances in mood science that can transform the way we think about and approach depression. Scholarly and comprehensive, yet immediately accessible and relevant, The Depths will be enormously helpful to people with depression, health care providers, and anyone who wants to understand why so many of us experience depression.”
Ann Kring, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
Depression is more common than it should be, and we still don't know how to treat it. In The Depths, Jonathan Rottenberg points us in the right direction. Combining solid empirical research with individual stories, including his own struggles, Rottenberg situates depression in a broader and more logical context. In doing so, he provides compelling and important new insights about the phenomenon.”
George A. Bonanno, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University, and author of The Other Side of Sadness
Top customer reviews
If that sounds simplistic and like it misses a lot, that's because it's just one of many elements of depression Rottenberg touches on. I don't want to recap the whole book here; suffice to say that it's an illuminating read, particularly if you or someone you know has depression -- there are a lot of "oh, now it makes sense why [I/he/she] do/es that."
However, I was hoping to learn about new breakthroughs in treatment. What struck me as odd was that the Minnesota Starvation Experiment was discussed, but the author didn't make the connection between malnutrition and depression outside of that study. Just because someone has food available doesn't mean they are properly nourished. I can speak from my own experience with depression during much of my life that dissipated when I stopped eating wheat flour and sugar.
I do agree with the author that we owe it to the younger generation to face this epidemic. However, I would start with the animal evidence and extrapolate to people. Perhaps we should look at our food supply and compare it to what our species evolved to eat before we became civilized. And look at our modern lifestyle in that light as well.. Maybe our bodies are sending us a message that we are doing something wrong but we look to pills and behavioral therapy instead of addressing the real problem.
Congratulations and thanks to Dr. Rottenberg for this book.
I was beginning to think, there was nothing else I could do or say to help, prior to reading, "The Depths".