Dealing with Depression: Simple Ways to Get Your Life Back is written by clinical psychologist Jan Marsh. It offers strategies to be used either alone in milder forms of depression or in conjunction with medication or psychotherapy. Ideas from several therapeutic approaches are incorporated, including cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and compassion focused therapy.
The first part of the book covers information about depression and what its causes are, and there is a succinct overview of the complex contributing factors to depression. There is also a discussion around some of the possible purposes that depression may serve.
The majority of the book is focused on practical solutions that can be implemented in order to manage depression and improve your life. All of the suggestions are down to earth and accessible, even for someone new to managing depression.
Several case examples are given in the first chapter that represent different patterns of depression. These examples continue to be used throughout the book to illustrate how the different points may apply in different situations. Several of the examples involved depression that had situational contributing factors, but there was also one who had quite a biologically based depression, which I’m glad was incorporated.
Early on the book, the author cautions “If you are wondering whether you can survive the way you feel or are having thoughts of ending your life, this book is not for you yet.” I thought that was very well put, and showed awareness that not all interventions are going to be appropriate at particular times. It’s also refreshing when a book does not claim to be something that it’s not.
The author explains that knowledge is power in beating depression, which I really appreciated, since it’s certainly very consistent with the message that I try to spread.
One of the things that stuck out for me was the author’s comment that engaging in self-care involves moving big questions to the back burner and focusing on the hear and now. It can be easy to push self-care to the bottom of the priority list, but I thought this was a good way of capturing the purpose of self-care.
I also like this line: “A belief that worrying is necessary is not rational.” Worrying can inadvertently become a part of the job description with depression, and this was a good reminder that we need to shut those kind of thoughts down.
Various suggestions are offered for breathing exercises, sleep strategies, healthy eating, and exercise. Questions are given to help challenge negative thoughts, and there are tips on handling difficult emotions.
The chapter on spirituality touches briefly on religion but also covers a wide range of topics including values, mindfulness, gratitude, and forgiveness. There’s a helpful chapter of resilience that also touches on a number of different ideas, including knowing your strengths, celebrating your successes, and managing obstacles.
The book is written in clear, simple language, making it easy to read even if concentration is an issue. It’s concise, so it’s able to cover a lot of ground without being particularly lengthy. There’s a very practical focus, with exercises that the reader can actually use. The book probably has the most to offer to those who are early on in their depression journey, but it’s also relevant for people who have more experience with depression. And on an entirely superficial note, although the on-screen image doesn’t quite capture it, the cover is my favourite colour. 🙂
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Originally published at http://mentalhealthathome.org on May 22, 2019.