May 02

Depression Memoirs and Research

The following books about depression are recommended. All are memoirs, at least in part.

I. Alex Riley, A Cure for Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It (2021)

A psychiatrist reviewing A Cure for Darkness on Goodreads concludes: “What Riley successfully demonstrates throughout this book is that depression is an incredibly complex and diverse clinical condition. He shows how our understanding of the biological, psychological and sociocultural mechanisms underpinning depression has improved, alongside the sometimes empirical, sometimes scientific treatments. By doing so, he sheds light on the reasons why successful treatment of depression can be such a huge challenge for clinicians and patients alike.”

II. John Moe, The Hilarious World of Depression (2020)

Public radio personality John Moe, who has a podcast called The Hilarious World of Depression, is a funny person; he’s also been depressed most of his life.

Moe likes being able to put mental health issues out in the open, easing stigma for “saddies” while also educating the “normies.”

III. Lauren Slater, Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds (2018)

Therapist and writer Lauren Slater knows all too well the benefits and disadvantages of taking psychotropic drugs. Diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, she’s not only been on Prozac (she authored the bestselling Prozac Diary in 1998) but also various other medications over the years. She believes there are physiological tradeoffs to taking these.

What may bring hope in the future, she notes, are the psychedelics, such as LSD, MDMA, and “magic mushrooms.” In addition, there will be “neural implants that provide a ‘malleable and reversible form of psychosurgery’” (Publishers Weekly).

IV. Johann Hari, Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope (2018)

Journalist Hari tells readers his own long-term depression has been blamed on a chemical imbalance in the brain. However, at some point in his therapeutic process “…he began to investigate whether this was true – and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.”

Hari’s research led him to this basic conclusion (HuffPost): “I learned that there are in fact nine major causes of depression and anxiety that are unfolding all around us. Two are biological, and seven are out in here in the world, rather than sealed away inside our skulls in the way my doctor told me…I was even more startled to discover this isn’t some fringe position – the World Health Organization has been warning for years that we need to start dealing with the deeper causes of depression in this way.”

V. Natasha Tracy, Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar (2016)

This is a collection of articles Tracy has written and previously posted at Bipolar Burble and Breaking Bipolar.

In an interview conducted by Leslie Lindsay Tracy states, “I don’t believe in the concept of ‘stigma’ per se. What I believe in fighting is prejudice and the inevitable discrimination that follows it. I believe that by making people with mental illness three-dimensional people with real emotions and real struggles, we actually start to sound just like everyone else – just amplified.”

VI. David Blistein, David’s Inferno: My Journey Through the Dark Wood of Depression (2013)

Blistein’s reference point is The Divine Comedy of the poet Danté, who was familiar with “both depths of despair and manic visions of rapture.”

Caroline Carr, author of Living with Depression: How to Cope When Your Partner is Depressed, calls David’s Inferno “(w)arm and compassionate, often hilarious, and full of hope and encouragement.”

VII. Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (2001)

For a deeper look at this groundbreaking memoir, see my previous post.