May is National Mental Health Month

Sorry for the delay of this important posting. I have been working all month on an essay about depression for an online magazine called Recovery Diaries. The article will not appear until October, so I am posting some quotes from books and magazines on depression in my library that I hope you will find helpful.

In Kay Redfield Jameson’s memoir of moods and madness (subtitle), she writes in the Epilogue:”Depression is awful beyond words or sounds or images; I would not go through an extended one again….Even when I have been most psychotic—delusional, hallucinating, frenzied—I have been aware of finding new corners in my mind and heart….I cannot imagine becoming jaded to life, because I know those limitless corners, with their limitless views.”

Note: The author is Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and her courage and strength are evident in this memoir.


In an article called “Undoing Depression” by Tracy Gaudet, M.D. in body+soul magazine is this important statistic: “Depression strikes 20 percent of women at some point in their lives…..A true mind-body condition, depression not only wreaks havoc on your mood but also significantly increases your risk for heart disease Parkinson’s, and other conditions.

Also, “In a recent study, women with depression were shown to have a 41 percent increased risk of heart disease.”


The Dalai Lama, in The Art of Happiness (as noted in Dealing with Anxiety and Building Self-Esteem), suggests that “challenging the anxiety-generating thoughts and replacing them with well-reasoned positive thoughts and attitudes” is one technique to help people cope. [I forgot to put the whole name of the author in my notes, but I believe it is Dr. Scott Cutler.]

In a special report on anxiety (which can lead to depression) from Consumers Reports On Health, the article suggests mix of psychotherapy, medication, regular exercise, stress reduction and meditation. The article also lists 5 types of anxiety that seeking help is suggested: panic disorder, social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Author William Styron’s book Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness is, in my estimation, one of the most valuable books on depression. Its 84 pages in my copy are heavily underlined. Here are just two examples:

“Of the many dreadful manifestations of the disease, both physical and psychological, a sense of self-hatred—or put less categorically, a failure of self-esteem—is one of the most universally experienced symptoms, and I had suffered more and more from a general feeling of worthlessness as the malady had progressed.”

“….the pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills* in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne.” (*referring to suicide)

In The Secret Strength of Depression by Frederick F. Flach, M.D. “Acute depression , then, is a genuine opportunity to settle long-standing, unrecognized depression that has been operating in subversive ways for years.” I believe the strength in depression is linked to making progress in three areas; how you regard yourself, addressing issues of interpersonal relationships, and coping with difficulty life siutations…..How you regard depression depends on how you experience it. Because, by its very nature, it is associated with endings, and because each ending involves starting over, depression itself is a new beginning.” (I think this last statement is a very interesting perspective on depression. es)

A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan, MD is an important book about women and Depression that I reviewed. Here are the links to my review (two parts):
Part One:
Part Two:

Finally, if someone you know is suffering from depression, be kind. It is an illness, not something you can snap out of. Show the same compassion you would for someone in pain physically.The fact that you cannot see the pain in a person’s mind does not negate its existence.
Love and support are crucial!


One Response to “May is National Mental Health Month”

  1. lois Says:

    Regarding the Kay Redfield Jamison quote: the writer is not only a professor of psychiatry and the author of several other excellent books, but she herself suffers from Bipolar Disorder, the book you cite details her long journey to health and achievement. the quote about depression is probably the best description of that malady anyone has written. there is a further comment about what it is like to be the family of a severely depressed individual and that too, is a powerful and succinct description. she is a remarkable woman who has suffered and weathered much, and has come out way ahead.

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