Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review: Catholic Guide to Depression

Catholic Guide to Depression
Catholic Guide to Depression by Aaron Kheriaty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you or a loved one suffer from depression, anxiety or related disorders, then you need to read this book.

Although the title sounds like it could be something from The Onion, it really is apropos. This is a truly Catholic guide to depression. Aaron Kheriaty has done a masterful job of bringing together rigorous science and lively orthodoxy to explain how the *whole* person needs to be treated. John Paul II talked of how faith and reason, when both are rightly understood, never stand in conflict. This book is a wonderful example of truth that flies on "both wings" of faith and reason.

Since humans are both material and spiritual, it is important for doctors and therapists to consider the entire person in treatment. Depression is a complex and often elusive condition that can have physical, emotional, and spiritual causes. These causes can be interrelated and can contribute to each other. Treatment of depression, therefore, must deal with all of these facets of the human person. I wish I could find the exact quote, but he summarized this thought roughly like this: The Sacrament of Confession doesn't cure brain chemistry imbalance, and the analyst's couch cannot forgive sin.

The book consists of two main parts. The first is a thorough overview of depression itself. It is insightful and deeply sympathetic, written by someone who has obviously worked with many people over many years. The second part is "Overcoming Depression", dealing with medication, psychotherapy, and spiritual help for depression.

I found his discussion (starting on pg. 192) of the role of work (ordinary, daily work) in the recovery from depression as particularly insightful. It is a great meditation on the meaning and purpose of work, and it has inspired me to take a new look at how I view my job and family life.

This book is both accessible and inspiring. It will give you insight into depression, and tools to help yourself or others who struggle with depression.

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