A recent report published by the World Health Organisation states that depression was the fourth most important health problem in the developing world in 1990 (accounting for about three percent of the total burden of illness) and predicts it will be the number one health problem in the developing world in 2020 (accounting for about six percent of the total burden). This astounding statistic reflects how widespread this little-understood, stigmatised illness is. It also points to the enormous financial burden and suffering it causes and will cause in the future.
Lewis Wolpert is Professior of Biology as Applied to Medicine at University College, London, and the author The Unnatural Nature of Science. Several years ago he had a severe depressive episode and could think only of suicide. His erudite and informative Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression is therefore written with the empathy of someone with real knowledge of the mood disorder, but also with scientific cynicism. Wolpert looks at psychological explanations--which focus on the importance of loss and early experience--and biological research which looks at brain functioning and chemistry. He discusses various treatments for depression, such as medication and psychotherapy, with an analysis of what works and for whom. A report on experiences in the treatment of depression in China, Japan, and India is also included. Wolpert hopes that genetic, neuroscience and pharmacy will one day provide a cure. But his advice for immediate treatment would be to combine drug and cognitive therapy. Malignant Sadness doesn't offer quick-fix answers which are characteristic of many pop-psychology manuals on the subject. It's strength is in offering a sober overview of the illness and a thorough look at treatment alternatives.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Anthony Storr "Literary Review"[Wolpert's] dreadful experience provoked him into investigating what exactly is known about depression. The result is this excellent book, the most objective short account I know of all the various approaches to depression....I thoroughly recommend this survey to psychiatrists, general practitioners, and above all, to Wolpert's fellow sufferers.