I’m writing several chapters about depression for the new book, and have been doing an informal survey of books about treating depression. Depression for Dummies (Smith & Elliott, Wiley Publishing, 2003) and How to Heal Depression (Bloomfield & McWilliams, Prelude Press, 1996) are consumer-friendly, step-by-step books for depressed people. They both give bulleted lists of symptoms, medications, and treatment possibilities. Both normalize depression and concurrent bad thoughts. Both are enamoured of CBT, above all and give a nod to "relationship therapy". Both give advice about changing thoughts to change your life. Both endorse exercise and eating well.
Depression for Dummies has at least twice as much information, and is more up to date. It follows the user-friendly "Dummies" format. It’s packed with data and exercises. It has pages and pages of ways to talk yourself into action: out of bed; into exercise; out of the house; out of a bad mood, and into therapy. It endorses Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Behavior Therapy, and Relationship Therapy. According to Smith & Elliott, nothing else works for depression. (Insert sigh here.) Of course, Bessel van der Kolk’s 2005 study wasn’t out (published in 2007). In that study 8 EMDR sessions beat out months of Prozac in almost every way, especially in longevity of treatment effects. (EMDR group kept getting better and better, months after treatment. When the Prozac people stopped taking the meds, they went back to very near their original baseline in nearly every measure. I hear that Lilly defunded the study, when they learned the results, but Bessel published it anyway.)
D for Ds mentions trauma as a cause for depression, but gives no good explanation of how it affects the brain and how to change that. It talks about relationship, some, but misses how poor attachment can fail to build the capacity for positive affect in people. And when I thought of my most horribly depressed people, I thought the book might overwhelm them with homework before they barely got into it. (It does say, "Go to therapy if this exercise is overwhelming." or words to that effect.)
I liked the book for what it is and was sorry that it adhered so religiously to CBT. I use CBT with depression. But my thinking about depression starts directly in the body and in attachment. I think about Porges’ Polyvagal theory and how we reflexively shut down and how social engagement shifts that shut down. I use EMDR to clear affect about depression (guilt, shame, hopelessness), trauma that triggers it, and to practice all the good CBT, exercise, taking meds/supplements, and socializing behavior that all the books talk about. I use resource installation to help "rebody" people of a time they weren’t depressed, and install the heck out of that. I also use EMDR with my "hunkered down folks", by clearing out the poor attachment experiences and bringing in the adult self to connect with with people. Expect chapters on all these topics in at about 18 months. In the mean time, have a great ’08!
Hi! Did you see, by the way, that *The Savages* has a great moment with *Eldercare for Dummies*? Anyway, writing to ask: What do you think of Kramer’s Against Depression?
Sorry for not answering quickly. I’m still recovering from surgery. I don’t think I’ve read Against Depression. What do you think of it? I did notice the “Dummies” book in the Savages. I really liked that movie. The people were real. They grew a little. They didn’t know what to do with their demented dad and they figured it out.
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