A Cure for Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It

Scribner. Apr. 2021. 464p. ISBN 9781501198779. $28. PSYCH
Science writer Riley has spent the last six years dealing with depression, which has given him feelings of sadness and hopelessness as well as thoughts of suicide. The support of his wife and friends has helped him to seek treatment from psychiatrists, psychotherapists, neurologists, and others. His experience with a range of antidepressants, psychedelic drugs, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other talk therapies inspired him to write this in-depth study of the history of depression, and to contemplate what the future might hold for this often debilitating disease. In his broadly researched and compassionate debut, Riley traces the history of treatments for depression and our changing understanding of the human brain. His exploration ranges from physician-philosopher Claudius Galen (129–c. 210 AD), to Sigmund Freud (who also dealt with depression), to contemporary researchers. After examining treatment options and the vast assortment of antidepressant drugs, Riley concludes that “the treatment of depression is a story that connects us all no matter our sex, age, or where we live,” and that we might now be at a “turning point in the history of mental illness.”
VERDICT An essential book that brings much-needed awareness to depression and the lingering stigma and misinformation surrounding it.
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