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on 21 May 2009
i first read this book 18 months ago whilst in the deepest darkest pit of my depression, this booked helped me beyond words and it gave me comfort and help and relief that i was not alone.

i am currently re-reading this excellent, truthful, honest book as i am again within my darkest pit.

i can not explain why this book helps except to say that it is real, it is honest and it helps me beyond words. i have purchased 2 further copies for my families, as they do not understand and the book says it all.

thank you sally for having the courage and the words to write this book.
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on 6 April 2008
I wasn't sure what this book was going to be when I started reading. I was concerned that it may upset me more that help me. I need not have worried. This is a beautifully written book, which tells a powerfully uplifting story.

The author's decision not to force her book into a linear structure adds an oral story telling quality which, when coupled with direct addresses to the reader, makes the reading of the book more like a conservation with a wiser friend.

This is a book of hope and compassion which I would recommend to anyone who is suffering, or has ever suffered, from depression.
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on 22 January 2008
I have just finished sally's book and found it truely amazing. In fact i bawled my eyes out after reading the first few chapters when i realised her story was so like mine (and my family) and others who suffer from this truely terrifying disease. Like Sally herself, my brother had tried to kill himself recently. Thankfully, mercifully, i was never that ill.
The beauty with Sally's account is she just tells her story just as it is, and in total honesty, which is very brave. I commend her for standing up to the stigma, fear and ignornace that is out there about depression.
I love the way Sally offers some meaningfull tips and advice on how one can perhaps better cope with the disease on a day to day basis.She offers none of the usual patronising miracle cures which other so called 'experts' have often written about.

You must read this book if you know anybody who suffers from this 'black dog' or if you are a sufferer yourself. At first i was afraid to read it, but now i am so, so, glad that i did.
Truely immense.
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on 17 October 2008
This is an important and powerful book. It treats what is often a taboo and misunderstood subject with a rare combination of knowledge, sensitivity and understanding, which flow from the author's direct personal experience. It is also a very brave book. To have the courage to describe an illness which often causes a stigma to be attached to the people who suffer from it - for the sake of promoting a wider understanding of depression - makes this an admirable book worthy of reading.

Sally Brampton writes a weekly column on relationship issues in the Sunday Times Style Section. For anyone not familiar with her work, Ms. Brampton is an extraordinarily perceptive and insightful 'agony aunt' with an uncanny ability to get to the heart of the matter in any situation. That she should apply her talents as a writer to providing such a frank and open account of her own journey through depression will help many people cope with what is a horrible and debilitating illness.

The author's style is both engaging and accessible. She is a brilliant communicator. But what makes 'Shoot the damn dog' such an effective 'self-help' book is the graphic descriptions of the pain and despair she felt. If you suffer from depression, it will help you see that you are not alone. More important, you'll find it is a source of hope and encouragement. Ignore criticisms of the technical content. These are important in self diagnosis. In particular, the Beck Depression Inventory and American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are important tools in objectively assessing whether you need help, (see Wikipedia for more info on these).

I read this book because my wife is suffering from depression. I didn't realize it at first. And when I did twig that she had a serious problem, I didn't understand what had happened, how serious it was or have any idea about what to do about it. This book helped me help my wife by giving me a proper fact-based understanding of the illness, including its symptoms and causes, and not just its effects. In fact, 'Shoot the damn dog' really does much to advance a wider understanding of depression. It is not an academic treatise, but a simple and practical description of its realities.

Ms. Brampton makes two very important points. One is that while 'victims' of depression often need help to overcome the physical symptoms of the illness - which really can be very real, such as the sense of being choked, or total lethargy, which Ms. Brampton felt. Two is that true recovery requires an ongoing commitment to understanding the issues that lead to depression, i.e. therapy with a trained counsellor.

I am no expert on depression. But my own second-hand experience of this illness together with Ms. Brampton's analysis convince me that it results when we bottle-up pain inside ourselves. It is what happens when we refuse to admit or express powerful negative emotions that come from childhood traumas or other negative experiences. We often have a tendency to bury such hurts, or we are not allowed to acknowledge them. But when we deny their existence, or hope that, if we ignore them, they will go away, they do not disappear. Instead, they fester like some deep wound and then explode when some other stress exerts a hold over us. When they do eventually come out, these repressed feelings attack us with interest.

Of course, it is different for everyone. But 'Shoot the damn dog' will provide a solid general framework that will allow you to develop your own understanding of the condition. And that is vital in getting timely help. Of course, it is not a substitute for the professional help of a trained psychiatrist/ psychologist, but for some it will be a vital step in realizing you need help as well deriving greater benefit from it when you finally seek it.

For others, this book will be a true friend and companion as they grapple with this illness. Another aspect that makes it so easy to endorse is that it addresses the shame people feel. You know what I mean: I can't believe this is happening to me. I'm sorry, but depression is no respecter of intelligence, wealth, class or social position. People don't want to admit they've got depression for fear of being written-off, so they suffer to the point of breakdown before getting help.

Ultimately, in writing this review, I believe this book is genuinely useful resource in coping with depression. I hope it will prove as helpful to you as it did to me. It was worth every penny.

Thank you, Sally Brampton.
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on 11 March 2008
This book is a must for anyone coping with depression, or living with someone who suffers from it.
Sally Brampton is painfully honest in her book, and you can really feel you get to know her warts and all.
I dont suffer from depression myself, but I have a huge interest in mental health and this read was both informative and enlightening.
I cannot recommend this book enough.
Get a copy I bet you will want to reread it.
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on 30 September 2010
As a community psychiatric nurse and also a sufferer from recurrent depressive disorder, I would highly recommend this book. I was able to identify with so much of it and the pain and hurt that Sally went through. Despite knowing and agreeing with the theoretical side of depression and the very useful educational aspects of the book, it was so human and so real and helped me to stop blaming myself. I am just as vulnerable as my patients and this book gave me great insight into myself. Sally is a wonderful and brave individual and it must have been very hard to revisit such a painful part of her history - I admired her strength and courage to face her demons and so pleased that her outcome is a positive and happy one. Well done Sally.

For either sufferers of depression or relatives and friends of sufferers this is a must read. It tackles this taboo subject with sensitivity and patience. It rids the reader of any stigma and is well worth every penny. I have passed it on to my best friend and also will be recommending it to colleagues and patients and their relatives. You can get better from depression - there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel, this book helps you find the tunnel.
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on 12 May 2016
I bought this book back in January while I was in the grips of an intense episide of anxiety and depression. At a time when, like Sally herself experienced, I couldn't focus enough to read. Having finally managed to read this honest and motivating memoir overy the past couple of weeks I am truly saddened to hear of her death, coinciding on the day I finished reading Shoot the Damn Dog. This book is for anyone who has experienced depression as well as anyone close to a sufferer or anyone at all who wants a really brutal, eloquent account of what it can feel like to live with depression. I cannot more highly recommended this book.
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on 6 July 2008
If you suffer with depression or know someone who does, I highly recommend this book.

It says everything that you can only try to explain to someone when you suffer with depression. Its so hard to really get a glimps into the mind of someone who suffers from this illness and it will explain so much if you are trying to help someone through a difficult time or you suffer yourself and desperately want those close to you to understand.

Well worth a read, excellently written.
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on 29 April 2008
Most sufferers of depression, including me, have read the numerous self-help guides and the "What is.." textbooks for laypeople in attempts to treat themselves, thoroughly inform themselves or to just try to make sense of the world they find themselves in. Although the former two groups get some of their mental fodder from "Shoot the damn dog", I reckon it mostly helps those of us who want to share with someone who's been there. I didn't find this book harrowing or difficult.
Okay, Sally Brompton doesnt represent - and doesnt claim to be - the typical depressive; partly because there is no such person. Each brings their unique past, present and future (hopes) into the illness and needs to deal with that. Sally recognises this but finds some solace in others who have "been there": the black hole, the black dog, the emptiness within or whatever you call depression.
This is a sensible and balanced book. Sally walks a middle path between the "biological" and the "psychoanalytical" camps that set themselves up in the enormous and amorphous field of psychiatry, rarely crossing their carefully drawn boundaries to share knowledge or, god forbid, work together. Sally meets some who have, but I suspect she may be an exception (and exceptional). She advises those who cant get on with a therapist to find another. While acknowledging this can be difficult for a withdrawn depressive, a number of NHS users may not have access to alternative treatments, particularly of the psychological kind, let alone be able to change therapists .
With that caveat, I found this a great book. Its not just a "me too" book, joining the other people who found the courage to "come out". She deals with shame, suicidality, support, friends, family and even fun and laughter. This book should be in every psychiatric ward and, even more than that, it should be on every psychiatrist or psychotherapist's shelf.
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on 8 March 2009
This book is excellent reading for anyone who either has suffered depression or has a relative or friend suffering from depression.

I have suffered depression and found the book easy to read and very reassuring.

My daughter, a VIth form college lecturer - age 42, is off work with clinical depression and she is finding the book extremely helpful, reasurring and easy to read. In her words "I just cannot put the book down".
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