Guess what I finished reading recently? Managing the Depression Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together by Ashley L. Peterson!! What a great book! You can find it here. It’s all about different aspects of depression, different causes, different manifestations, different treatments based on those factors, and different illnesses or conditions that can include depression (such as bipolar disorder). It’s mind-blowing to me how much info is packed in this seemingly tiny book. My paperback (I love paperbacks!) is 124 pages, but there’s so much content crammed in here that it’s unbelievable.
This book has a lot to offer anyone who’s studying numerous fields: psychology, pharmacology, psychiatry/medicine, counseling, et al. I would also highly recommend it for anyone with depression or, more specifically, if they’ve tried different treatment options and are still depressed. There are so many ideas in here that if I were depressed, I’d feel hopeful just from reading this.
Ashley has a very scientific mind, and she discusses studies that show efficacy of given treatments (including, but not limited to, medications) and how those studies are used by healthcare providers to take a solid stab at first-line treatment. She explains that it’s not a shot in the dark, like, “Oh, hey, let’s try this treatment,” but rather, it’s based on evidence and other important factors, like type of depression. Did you know that it’s more common for depressed people to sleep less and eat less, than it is for them to sleep more and eat more? I sure the heck didn’t, and that surprised me. But anyway, it might sound like I’m pointing out obvious commonsense stuff, but you have to read this to get the picture that all these factors come into play.
And the whole section on therapy–wow! I thought all therapy was just random talk-based, like, “Tell me about your childhood,” or whatever. Nope. There are focused therapies that I’ve never experienced personally, and they have scientific evidence of being helpful. She goes into enough depth about those therapies that you can get a primer and consider if it could be a good fit for you.
She also discusses mindfulness and self-care, and she outlines some ways you can track your symptoms and/or emotions in a regular way, like with a day-to-day journal. She lists affirmations and their unrealistic (rainbows and unicorns) counterparts. I found that section to be really funny. I mean, why not tell myself, “I’m the sexiest woman alive, and most men can’t handle it, and that’s okay,”? But I digress. She makes a good point that it’s silly to tell yourself that you’re surrounded by love everywhere you go, for example, because let’s face it–if your car breaks down in a bad part of town, that affirmation won’t help you at all. You may as well be at war with reality (and a scary street gang).
She brings it all together with how you should have a depression plan, should things get worse or relapse. There are references and strategies out the wazoo. The author speaks from experience, because she has treatment-resistant depression herself, which she discusses in the book. Her attitude is very positive and hardworking in her search for answers and solutions. I’ve known her a long time and I admire her quite a bit!!
So for anyone out there who’s wondering, “Do I need to be taking this antidepressant?” or, “Why isn’t my medication helping all the way?” you might find answers–or, at the very least, insight–from this book. Not all medications or treatments have the same effect, because no two people experience depression the same way. She emphasizes how treatment needs to be tailored to the individual, and how what works for one person won’t automatically work for the next person. Her scientific know-how is quite evident, which is useful for me, ’cause I’m just horrible at science. She took a topic which I saw quite broadly and made it specific in a million ways. So check this book out!!