I am getting my Ph.D. in psychology and depression is my primary research interest. Although much of my neuroscience works focuses on biological substrates or cognitive performance associated with depression, it is important to recognize the historical context in which this syndrome is set.
Ehrenberg does an excellent job of tracing the history of depression, describing its characteristics in a social context, and exploring the nuances of depression diagnosis in the modern age. In a time when one in three Americans is on a psychoactive medication (many of which are SSRIs for depression), it is easy to dismiss the problem as one of over-diagnosis and over-medicalization of normal symptoms. However, Ehrenberg makes a compelling argument that unique facets of our modern social world create crises within many individuals that manifest as depression.
What I appreciate about this book is that it addresses the key, sociological problems that contribute to depression. Yes, there are biological changes that are associated with depressed mood. But there are also existential problems that tip a person into a depressive state.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history or sociology of depression. From electroshock therapy to the modern SSRI revolution, Ehrenberg discusses the key components of this fascinating syndrome.