Depression: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. By Lee H. Coleman, PhD, ABPP. New Harbinger Publications Inc. 2012. 166 pages.
Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book by New Harbinger Publications and asked to write a review on my blog if I felt comfortable doing so. The opinions in this post are my own.
Depression: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed is a well-written, engaging book that would not only be of help to the newly diagnosed, but to those who have long been diagnosed with depression.
While I am not newly diagnosed, I found it helpful to review what depression is and what treatments are available. I found good information in the sections on how people can help themselves and how they can ask for help from others.
Lee H. Coleman, PhD, ABPP, writes in a straightforward manner without a lot of jargon. It’s a book that would be accessible to most readers picking up the book to get help with their own depression and for family members and friends of depressed persons.
It is truly a guidebook, because it details the journey from experiencing the first symptoms of depression to lifestyle choices that help in the aftermath of a depressive episode.
Coleman stressed the importance of treatment for depression. In fact, it’s his main point: “If there’s just one message you take away from this book, it should be that depression can and should be treated” (p. 10).
He notes that most people who get treated for their depression get better and do so more quickly than people who don’t get treatment.
He advocates getting the treatment that works best for the depressed person as an individual, stating that less than half of depressed people get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
His rallying cry is to keep on seeking a treatment that works: “If you were diagnosed and treated properly but your depression still didn’t remit, don’t despair! Depression can be tenacious, and what works for one person might not work for another. You’ve got options, and there are different kinds of treatment you can pursue . . . (p. 11).
He doesn’t advocate any one treatment, but he speaks of his own experience in using different treatments with patients and also refers to scientific studies that have been done on the treatments.
Those he discusses include psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, psychodynamic therapy, mindfulness-based treatments and medication.
The book also discusses what depressed people can do to help manage their symptoms while they are in the midst of treatment. I found this chapter to be particularly unique and helpful. The author makes it clear that “these strategies are ideas for symptom management, not symptom removal” (p. 71).
He provides ideas on how to manage low energy and fatigue, the loss of interest and social isolation, sad moods, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, guilt and problems with concentrating and making decisions.
This commonsense approach to symptom management would be helpful to the depressed person who is not yet seeing results in therapy and/or from medication.
He does an excellent job in describing what a new patient should expect from therapy. This would be particularly helpful for those who have never experienced therapy and for those who may have had a bad experience with therapy and still have some concerns about it.
Coleman underscores the seriousness of depression by devoting a chapter to managing suicidal thoughts, with a section for the depressed person and a section for the depressed person’s family and friends. He includes sections on decreasing the risk of suicide, increasing protective factors, and how to let others know help is needed.
He includes an amazing chapter on resources. It’s one of the most detailed resource lists that I’ve seen in such a book, and I plan to keep it handy for my own research and guidance.
The book includes the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) for readers to take and show their physicians to have the number and pattern of symptoms checked.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book for the newly diagnosed. And I also recommend it to those who have been diagnosed but want to read more deeply about what treatments are available and things they can do for themselves to manage their symptoms and decrease the chances of a relapse or recurrence.