Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness, yet at the same time also one of the most poorly understood. Most people have felt emotionally depressed at some point in their life. We all might experience a great deal of sadness with the loss of a loved one, a job, or some other disappointment. However, this is different from clinical depression.
In Depression: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, Lee H. Coleman, PhD seeks to explain the signs and symptoms of depression as well as some of the ways that people who have been diagnosed can obtain help.
At a little over 150 pages, this book is not meant to be an extensive compendium regarding depression treatment. As the title suggests, it is sort of a beginner’s guide to dealing with depression. For those who have already been in treatment for a significant amount of time, this book probably will not offer much new information. For individuals who have just been diagnosed (or who feel that they may be suffering from depression), however, this book offers a wealth of information. Also, for anyone who may suspect that they are suffering from depression, this book will serve as a guide on how to go about finding treatment.
The book’s first two chapters explain the definition of depression as well as how to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Dr. Coleman provides information about depression symptoms and also answers questions the reader may have such as “how do you know you’re not just sad?” For the uninitiated, this can be important information, as many people dismiss some of depression’s symptoms for a long time before trying to obtain treatment. The author makes sure to explain the seriousness of depression and the impact it can have on one’s life if treatment is not sought.
The second chapter gives specific instructions about how to find treatment for depression. The author does a good job of explaining the difference between general practitioners, psychiatrists, and other therapists and the roles that different professionals can have in a person’s treatment. I think the reader is provided good information regarding what to expect when they go to seek help.
In chapters 3 and 4, Dr. Coleman gives the reader a glimpse at the various types of depression treatment. As he explains, his goal is to give people “realistic expectations” of what occurs when a person enters treatment. Though the sections are brief, the book does touch on most of the major methods of treatment, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, and of course, medication. There is by no means an exhaustive explanation of all the different treatments, but as an introduction, the book serves its purpose.
Perhaps more importantly, the author includes information about how to tell if treatment is working. He answers questions such as “When should you expect to see some changes?” and “What if you’re not getting any better?” He makes it clear that there is no miracle cure for depression and that effective treatment can only be achieved through collaboration between an individual and their mental health professionals.
The second half of the book focuses on providing tips to manage symptoms of depression. Again, this is not meant to be an in-depth self-help book, but the author does give a number of good starting points for dealing with depression.
It’s especially good to see that Dr. Coleman dedicated an entire chapter to “Managing Suicidal Thoughts.” Not only is this one of the most difficult symptoms of depression to manage, it is also perhaps the most serious. In my experience, I have seen even well qualified professionals have difficulty when dealing with people with suicidal thoughts, so I am sure that the advice the author provides in this section will be helpful for its intended audience.
The chapter about caring for yourself after a depressive episode is also a plus. All too often people relapse because they do not make healthy choices once they start to feel better.
Depression: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed serves its purpose. Mental health professionals would serve first-time clients with depression well by recommending this book. And it’s worth the read if you or someone you know has recently started experiencing depressive symptoms.
Depression: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed
By Lee H. Coleman, PhD, ABPP
New Harbinger Publications: May 3, 2012
Paperback, 160 pages