Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Catholic Guide to Depression - Aaron Kheriaty, John Cihak

This book was lent to me by a friend who also suffers from depression and had found it helpful. I was so impressed by the introduction that I almost sat down to blog about it there and then.
Dr Aaron Kheriaty, an experienced psychiatrist, with some help from Fr John Cihak, a theologian, has written and excellent, extremely readable book about depression. It is the best thing about depression I have ever read, and it is the only thing about depression I have ever read which I thought I could give someone else to read and it would help them understand my condition.
The approach to mental illness, and specifically depression, is grounded in Catholic anthrolopology and a truly integral vision of the human person: body, soul and spirit. It explains what depression is not and how, given the fact that it is an illness which pervades all aspects of the person, the treatment must be likewise holistic. Brief descriptions of treatment options are covered but the most interesting and best part of the book is that it is so spiritual. As I've given my copy back to the person who lent it to me I can't give a more detailed explanation, but I plan to buy one for myself.
As depression is now the 3rd or 4th leading cause of illness worldwide, you will probably find reason at some point in your life to read this book. In the mean time:
  • If you have depression, you should read this book: it will help you understand yourself, your illness and what you can do about it. I found it both practical and consoling.
  • If you are a healthcare professional, you should read this book: medical science, education and practice frequently take a one-dimensional approach to the human person, reducing us to our bodies only. Although specifically about depression, I believe this book goes a long way to addressing that problem, and much of its content is applicable to suffering in general.
  • If you have a friend or family member with depression, you should read this book. It puts into words what they may not be able to, with great clarity.
  • If you are a priest, religious or consecrated person, if you provide spiritual direction, or do almost any kind of apostolate, you should read this book: it gives practical spiritual advice for the person with depression as well as explaining the biological and psychological aspects of the illness.
  • If your parish has a library, you should recommend to whoever is in charge of it that they add this book to it.
  • If you have ever thought that a person with depression needs to pull themselves together, or give themselves a good talking to, you should read this book.
  • If you don't fall into one of the aforementioned categories, then you might not want to read this book now, but you definitely should make a note of it somewhere, because one day you might need it.

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