Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression Paperback – May 26 2009
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"A practical, proven guide . . . Superb."
-Mehmet Oz, M.D., author of the YOU guides
" Extraordinary. . . . Both therapist and patient will benefit hugely from reading this book."
" Exactly what this over-medicated country needs right now."
-Christine Northrup, M.D., author of The Wisdom of Menopause
" Unstuck is truly remarkable. . . . In this warm, practical, and user- friendly book, Dr. Gordon takes great care to remind us how much power we have to change our own lives."
-Dean Ornish, M.D., author of The Spectrum
" If you want to find out the real causes of depression and how to cure them, read this book."
-Mark Hyman, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of UltraMetabolism
"Addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of the problem, not just a possible chemical imbalance in the brain. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who feels stuck."
-Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Healthy Aging and Eight Weeks to Optimum Health
About the Author
James S. Gordon, M.D., is the Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body and a Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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This book, written by a psychiatrist who himself has suffered from depression, will be controversial because it describes depression as "the beginning of an unfolding process of self-awareness, not the grim end of a disease process". The author challenges the prevailing model of depression as a medical illness, basing everything upon current brain research and current medical research dealing with depression. This is a very, very important book, one that every person who deals with depression should read.
If you are looking for a quick and dirty way of dealing with depression and want to take medication only, and from then on never think about depression or your life again beyond renewing your prescription, you would do better by NOT buying this book. Recovery from depression does take some work. On the other hand, if you want to know more about current research with SSRI's and view medication as only a part of your approach to dealing with depression, you should DEFINITELY buy this book. If you are like me and wish that you didn't have to take medication at all, and are willing to do some work to recover, you should absolutely buy it---you will love it and benefit greatly from it as I have.
If you want to know what research truly says about SSRI's it's here and more besides. Step-by-step techniques and tools. Examples that I could relate to. Integrating diet and exercise--what is shown to work and what doesn't. Supplementation. Support. Meditation. Movement. Awareness. Obstacles on your journey. Spirituality. There is a chapter on "the dark night of the soul", which includes dealing with suicidal thoughts. Alternative practitioners and alternative supplementation (including SamE, St. John's Wort, and rhodiola. There are huge appendices filled with resources to help you to find out more about every aspect of depression recovery. And of course, for clinicians and others, there are references to formal studies.
"Unstuck" is a resource manual---a bible, even---for depression recovery. It is important for those who have depression and for those who love them and for others who want to know what experts now know about all of the approaches to depression recovery.
UPDATE 7-14-08: I just wanted to add that I in no way disparage people who need or want a "medication only" approach for depression. Apparently my review has given this impression to at least one person, and I regret this. Perhaps this will be clearer: if you are adamant that you want pharmaceuticals, and ONLY pharmaceuticals, and you don't care about any integrative adjuvant approaches, AND you don't care what any studies say about the medication you are taking, your money would be wasted by purchasing this book. If you are happy and cured of your depression, in your own estimation, then you are indeed fortunate and certainly would not want this book. You would not be or feel stuck, and thus would not want to be "unstuck".
However, for those who are seriously and severely disabled by depression, but who still have just enough energy to read, I think you can get a more complete and balanced view of the situation with some additional or alternative material.
A good start would be reading the following articles by fellow depressive Therese Borchard (on the web - find through a search engine).
"Don't Get Stuck on "Unstuck": Depression Is Real, and Drugs Help Me"
"The Latest on Antidepressants: Be Careful Where You Get Your Facts"
Then, especially if you've read "Unstuck," I think you'll have truly balanced and thorough basis to make a recovery plan for yourself if you read (or listen to as an audio book) "Against Depression" by Peter Kramer.
A final caveat about Dr. Gordon's book: Several elements of his recommendations contain an underlying - sometimes subtle, sometimes not so much - suggestion that depression is fundamentally a character flaw, or something that can be eliminated simply through alterations in a defective worldview, etc.
It's true that everyone needs to take as much responsibility as possible for their own lives. Needless to say it's also true that a symptom of depression is negative and unhealthy thinking. But for people who have major depression it's not helpful to frame the problem in ways that might lead to even more self-recrimination. In fact, I think that can make the problem and the consequences far worse.
If you have serious depression, especially in repeat episodes, there is considerable science pointing toward a probability that you have a biological injury, not just a "weakness."
So here's an analogy: If you have a bullet in your foot, it really doesn't matter whether you shot yourself or whether someone else shot you, or whether someone handed you the gun and encouraged you to do it, etc. The injury is the same, and you need to get serious help before you bleed to death. And if you have serious depression, get serious help before your life ticks away in confusion and despair.
So the Gordon book may be helpful, or not, depending on you, your history, and your current situation.
The author further indicates that he typically obtains better results with a depressed patient after 10-12 weeks of therapy than he would have had the patient received anti-depressant treatment. I can't dispute his findings, but I do question them, particularly in acutely depressed patients. Of course, one of the main themes of the book is that anti-depressants are of little to no use, which is effectively throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It's just too extreme a reaction, in my opinion.
While I agree that they are certainly wildly overprescribed, I just don't think anti-depressants are useless. Moreover, I do not share the author's view that most/all depression has no organic basis and therefore can be treated by wholistic methods alone. One treatment method in the book, for example, was some kind of cognitive therapy where the patient was taught to avoid 'self-defeating' thoughts. I call that the 'Cancel That Thought Therapy', or the 'Don't Think of an Elephant in the Room Therapy', and as far as I'm concerned, it's a pretty useless approach - at least that's been my experience.
In summary, I do think that this book provides a ton of very good things that would enrich anyone's life. But in the case of seriously depressed people, I believe that anti-depressants may provide at least some kind of short-term intervention that wholistic methods alone (or together!) may not be able to. On balance, despite it's usefullness, I find it difficult to recommend this book unequivocally based on these criteria.
I particularly like the alternatives methods which he explains,in depth,so that a person can make their own informed choices. Personally, I am a vitamin and mineral advocate, but I know many who are quite pleased with herbal remedies.
It takes courage to buck the system and I am thrilled to see MD's starting to open the door to alternative ways. I have worked in hospitals for years and have seen the other side of the drug industry. They do just as much harm as they do good,in my opinion, and I think it takes courage to stand up and lead the way to safer health care.
It is definately on my reading and referral list to my clients as well as fellow medical professionals.