Health-related books give hope to those living with depression, cancer

Posted Dec. 01, 2011, at 7:10 p.m.

LIVING WITH DEPRESSION: WHY BIOLOGY AND BIOGRAPHY MATTER ALONG THE PATH TO HOPE AND HEALING by Deborah Serani, published July 2011

Mental illnesses such as depression are much more common in the U.S. than many would think. Recent studies conclude that nearly 25 percent of Americans will experience mental illness in their lifetime. More surprising is the revelation that major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for those ages 15 to 44. Despite these statistics, only about 25 percent of those affected will seek treatment for symptoms of depression. The remaining 75 percent who suffer symptoms never seek professional help, either out of fear of being stigmatized, fear of seeking medical help or an unfounded assumption that symptoms will simply go away or lessen over time.

In her book, Serani outlines the various forms of depression, describes different treatments, and details methods for managing depression and getting help for you or a loved one. Serani also shares tips on choosing a good therapist, including how to navigate health-care red tape. A chapter-length analysis of various forms of stigma associated with depression concludes with steps to minimize it. A 15-page section listing national and global resources, complete with mailing addresses, phone numbers and websites make this a ready resource for finding an expert organization for seeking help with depression.

A particularly enlightening section, which emphasizes that sufferers are not alone in their depression, highlights hundreds of high-profile celebrities and dignitaries affected by depression and related mood disorders. The book benefits from a balanced mixture of clinical (but not too clinical) explanations along with a first-person account of the author’s personal struggle with depression.

SURVIVING AFTER CANCER: LIVING THE NEW NORMAL by Anne Katz, published April 2011

Katz’s book is a good resource for cancer patients at all stages of their illnesses, from diagnosis to recovery, from despair to hope. Katz, a registered nurse, presents accounts of nine cancer survivors who have suffered from different forms of the disease and at various stages of life. Each account feels like a lived-in experience, covering how people dealt with the medical, practical and emotional stages of their cancer struggle.

Combining her personal experience with cancer patients, the stories of these nine survivors, and modern medical knowledge, Katz includes a chapter called “A Blueprint for Health,“ which she contends covers “the most important aspects of thriving during the many years of survivorship.” The book concludes with a listing of key online and print resources for cancer survivors and their friends and families.

Patrick Layne, reference and ILL librarian, Bangor Public Library.

 

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