Summary and book reviews of Against Depression by Peter Kramer

Against Depression

by Peter D. Kramer

Against Depression by Peter D. Kramer X
Against Depression by Peter D. Kramer
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2006, 368 pages

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Book Summary

A revolutionary exploration of mood disorders by the author of the landmark bestseller Listening to Prozac.

A decade ago, with his breakaway bestseller, Listening to Prozac, Peter Kramer revolutionized the way we think about antidepressants and the culture in which they are so widely used. Now, he returns with a profound and original look at the condition those medications treat—depression. He asks: If we could eradicate depression so that no human being ever suffered it again, would we?

Depression, linked in our culture to a long tradition of “heroic melancholy,” is often understood as ennobling—a source of soulfulness and creativity. Tracing this belief from Aristotle to the Romantics to Picasso, and to present-day memoirs of mood disorder, Kramer suggests that the pervasiveness of the illness has distorted our sense of what it is to be human. There is nothing heroic about depression, Kramer argues, and he presents the latest scientific findings to support the fact that depression is a disease—one that can have far-reaching health effects on its sufferers.

Frank and unflinching, Against Depression is a deeply felt, deeply moving book, grounded in time spent with the depressed. As his argument unfolds, Kramer becomes a crusader, the author of a compassionate polemic that is fiercely against depression and the devastation it causes.

Like Listening to Prozac, Against Depression will offer hope to millions who suffer from depression—and radically alter the debate on its treatment.

What It Is to Us
One
The Final Memoir

SHORTLY AFTER THE PUBLICATION OF Listening to Prozac, twelve years ago, I became immersed in depression. Not my own. I was in my forties and contented enough in the slog through midlife. But mood disorder surrounded me, in my contacts with patients and readers. Messages from parents with depressed children and husbands with depressed wives filled my telephone answering machine; letters dense with personal history crammed the mail slot. In their volume, in their particularity, these contacts were sobering, overwhelming, disorienting. Less intimate overtures came my way. Reporters and talk show wranglers approached me about the significance of drug company initiatives, antidepressant-related lawsuits, and mental health legislation. Colleagues invited me to join colloquia on particular therapies. Advocates of partisan views of mood disorder e-mailed me with propaganda, asking me to sign on.

Immersion has a ...

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Reviews

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A thoughtful, sometimes controversial look at depression. However, the audio book, read by Kramer in an ironically depressing monotone, is a disappointment. No doubt Kramer is a fascinating man stuffed full with fascinating ideas but his reading style is a little dull!..continued

Full Review (548 words).

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Media Reviews

Publisher's Weekly
Resolute but not preachy, this book is an important addition to the growing public health campaign against depression.

Kirkus Reviews
A clear, valuable exposition of the progress researchers are making in understanding an all-too-common disease.

The Washington Post
In his new book, Peter D. Kramer examines depression with a cool, intelligent and sympathetic eye. He asks two interesting questions: If we could eradicate depression, would we? And if we did, would we lose anything of value?

San Francisco Chronicle
Kramer makes an eloquent case for considering depression a disease... Captivating, convincing and thorough.

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Beyond the Book

According to the prozac.com website:

  • Prozac has been taken by more than 54 million people since its introduction in 1986, making it the most widely described anti-depressant medicine in history.
  • More than 18 million Americans suffer from some type of depression, and one in eight persons need treatment for depression during his or her lifetime.
  • Depression is a recurring illness.  If you have one episode there is a 50% chance of another, if the recurrence rate increasing with the number of episodes.
  • Untreated, depression can last up to 6 months or longer.
  • An estimated 15% of people with chronic depression commit suicide.
  • Due to the social stigma still surrounding depression, the National Institute...

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