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Recent studies have found that one woman in five, and one man in ten, will suffer from depression or manic depression sometime during the course of their lives. This is a disturbing statistic, but there is hope, because more and more evidence has surfaced to indicate that many psychiatric disorders are biological diseases that can be successfully treated with medication. Most people, however, know little about these recent findings. They don't know how to tell if the depression they are suffering from is biological or not, nor what they can do to recover from it if it is.
In Understanding Depression, Donald Klein and Paul Wender offer a definitive guide to depressive illness--its causes, course, and symptoms. They clarify the difference between depression (which is a normal emotion) and biological depression (which is an illness), and include several self-rating tests with which readers can determine whether or not they should seek psychiatric evaluation to determine if they have a biological depressive illness. They describe the symptoms of biological depression, among them loss of energy, changes in eating habits, sleep disturbances, decreased sex drive, restlessness, poor concentration and indecisiveness, and increased use of intoxicants and drugs. And they paint a clear picture of how depressive illness can affect people's lives, using excerpts from patient histories to show the progress of each patient from the onset of depression to treatment and recovery. The authors also discuss the different types of treatment available, including antidepressant drugs, electroconvulsive therapy, and psychotherapy, and they examine the benefits and side effects of psychopharmacological drugs (including the new antidepressants, lithium, and the controversial Prozac), related disorders (such as panic attacks, atypical depression, seasonal affective disorder, and PMS), and how to get the right kind of help.
Most victims of biological depression often fail to seek help, whether out of guilt or ignorance, and many are often misdiagnosed by physicians or psychotherapists who fail to recognize the symptoms of the illness. Understanding Depression seeks to make the public (both lay and medical) aware of the issues of biological depression, providing a highly informed and readable guide to this much misunderstood disease.
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