Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Review: The Catholic Guide to Depression

Sophia Institute Press sent me the book The Catholic Guide to Depression to review. The author, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty is a Catholic psychiatrist and the Founding Director of the Psychiatry and Spirituality Forum. In this book, Dr. Kheriaty takes on the problem of depression from both a psychological and a religious standpoint.

The intended audience for this book, I would say, is those suffering from depression. However, family and friends of those suffering from depression could gain a better understanding from this book. I believe it would also be beneficial for spiritual directors of people suffering from depression. This book is not light reading though, so unless you fall in one of the three categories I listed, or just have a general interest in psychology, this book is not for you as it reads like a textbook.

The first half of the book is designed to help one better understand exactly what depression is and is not. Symptoms, both physical and emotional, are listed and explained in detail in the first chapter. Also addressed in the first chapter are the different types of depression and some causes of depression. Chapter Two addresses "Depression and the Spiritual Life" and includes a very interesting take on how Jesus redeemed depression on the Cross. Dr. Kheriaty also makes it a point to convey that depression does not always have a spiritual cause or root. This is important, because Christians (I assume other religions do it too) have a"tendency to spiritualize a psychological or medical problem prematurely."

Skipping ahead to Part II, and the next four chapters, Dr. Kheriaty addresses methods of "Overcoming Depression." In these four chapters, he discusses everything from medication, "shock therapy" (not as awful as it used to be), psychotherapy, and spiritual help such as prayer and the mass. With each of these "treatments" he lists benefits and limits that each one can have and wants the reader to realize that it takes some combination of these treatments to help treat and cure depression. It also should be noted that the same treatment doesn't work for everyone.

This is a very thorough and well-written book. However, as I stated at the beginning of the review, this is not a book for the average person. This book is intended for a specific audience. If you are in this particular audience, this is a must-have book for you, and you will find it to be an invaluable tool. However, if you are not in this particular audience, this book will be tough for you to get through. For this reason, I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.