Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: First Steps Out of Depression

 While depression manifests itself in many ways, there is one thing I've seen over and over and have experienced myself when it comes to the illness: being absolutely bone tired. So, naturally, when somebody with depression goes into a bookstore looking for a guide to help them, the throng of thick psychological books that clutter the shelves can be overwhelming to even look at.

First Steps Out of Depression by Sue Atkinson aims to be a release from this; the book looks like more of a cute little gift book than a huge self-help guide, and is written from the point of view of somebody who has been there instead of a rhetorically inflated psychologist. Add that the book is broken into devotional-like sections that can be read one at a time, and the book is a much needed quick read for the reader struggling to keep their focus.

The book isn't perfect, though. 

Published in the UK and apparently not edited before being released in the USA, there are some cultural comments and slang that could confuse an American reader. I'm not saying the book should be “totally radical” by any means, but discussion of the waiting list for therapy made me pause in confusion until I remembered that England has socialized healthcare and checked to see where the book was published. These notes could have easily and quickly been edited.

What concerns me more, though, is while most of Ms. Atkinson's writing is sound and thoughtful, a few parts made me cringe and step back to ask myself if they made sense. A section about putting on a face to survive – while it's true that depressed people must do this until they feel better – lacked any sort of tact. Another section about not sweating small stuff said that a missing pet wasn't important. These are a few of the more memorable examples.

Overall, First Steps Out of Depression is a helpful, brief conversation with somebody who has already been through the wringer, but like any opinion, the book should be taken with a grain of salt and sound judgement as you read.