By Raymond W. Lam and Hiram Mok Oxford University Press, 2008 Review by Tony O'Brien RN, MPhil on Apr 28th 2009
This pocket guide to depression is part of the Oxford University Library series that includes mental health titles on anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and sleep. It's a compact volume, aimed mainly at doctors, but it will be helpful to a range of clinicians who see people with, or at risk for, depression. As the authors explain, depression is a common condition, seen in primary care and specialist services, as well as in people with medical conditions. Depression imposes a considerable burden on the individual affected, on their family, and on the wider community. Early identification and treatment of depression is part of many countries mental health strategies.
The book is brief at around 100 pages, but is highly informative. It takes a predictably medial approach to depression, so clinicians would need to supplement the information provided with accounts of personal experience. It is well organized, with ten chapters ranging over epidemiology, clinical features, diagnosis and various treatment options. Differential diagnosis is well covered along with DSM diagnostic criteria, making the task of diagnosis clearer. In regard to treatment, separate chapters on the various psychotherapies, pharmacotherapy and other somatic therapies provide a good coverage of options. Limitations of studies of treatment are acknowledged. There is a chapter on depression in special populations, making the book useful for a wide range of clinicians. The final chapter contains many of the more commonly used rating scales, such as the Hamilton, Montgomery-Asberg, PHQ-9 and others. The Beck Inventory is omitted, probably for copyright reasons, but is easy enough to find. Each chapter has a useful reference list. For non-specialist clinicians, students, and psychiatric trainees this would make a useful reference work.