Depression. A very short introduction
Author: Mary Jane Tacchi, Jan Scott
Publisher: Oxford University Press
„In sooth, I know not why I am so sad,” says Antonio in the Merchant of Venice. However, he was by no means the only depressed Shakespeare character: if Hamlet or Macbeth had seen a modern doctor, they would have been prescribed antidepressants. Dante begins the Divine Comedy: „Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost.” So, clinical depression seems to be as old as the human condition itself and it has a very fascinating history that spans the history of human knowledge and development.
Depression. A very short introduction offers exactly this: a brief account of the history of concepts such as depression, manic depression, and bipolar disorder and focusses on the descriptions and understanding of these disorders today. The book also considers some of the most controversial areas of the field, such as childhood diagnosis as well as antidepressants and suicide, and examines the symptoms and signs of both disorders and looks at the association between physical disorders and depression.
The authors, consultant psychiatrist Dr. Mary Jane Tacchi and professor of psychological medicine Jan Scott manage to capture a wide range of topics surrounding depression in 100 pages of clearly written style and scope, offering the right amount of scientific arguments and easy-to-understand information.
Just to point out a couple of interesting findings from the book:
- The first description of depression known at that time by the name of „melancholia” was written by Hippocrates, the Father of Medecine and he stated that melancholia is characterized by despondency, aversion to food, sleeplessness, irritability and restlessness. He suggested that this is an illness with a physical cause, an excess of black bile.
- In the Middle Ages, melancholia was explained as God’s punishment for people’s sins.
- The turn of 20th century saw huge changes in terms of the diagnosis of the condition and the classification of depression.
- Depression has a profound impact on society and No new antidepressant drugs have been developed in the last 25 years, forcing psychiatrists to look elsewhere for help.
- Countries are increasingly recognising the need to train more psychologists to replace or complement drug treatments. And perhaps most importantly, there is a cultural movement to make it easier for people to ask for help and speak out about their illness.
Depression. A very short introduction is a good read for anyone who wants to have a basic understanding of the condition. It is not a self-help book, but rather an academic review of the information on depression. Highly informative and interesting for all public.