A Cure for Darkness
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‘Boldly ambitious, deeply affecting, and magisterial in scope’ Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes
‘Expansive and thoughtful, it illuminates the complexity and elusiveness of his subject’ New Statesman
‘A rich and generous picture of research into depression to date’ Financial Times
What is depression? Is it a persistent low mood or a complex range of symptoms? Is it a single diagnosis or a range of mental disorders requiring different treatments? And is there a way of curing such a complex, and diverse, condition?
A sufferer of depression himself, science writer Alex Riley has spent years thinking about these issues as he was prescribed antidepressants and underwent cognitive behavioural therapy. Throughout his treatment, he wondered-are antidepressants effective? Do short-term talking therapies actually work? And what is on the horizon for those who don’t respond to these first-line treatments? A Cure for Darkness explores all of these questions and more, as the author embarks on a journey to illuminate one of the world’s most prevalent disorders.
Weaving personal and family history, the book tracks treatments through centuries of science, from the ‘talking cure’ to electroconvulsive therapy to magic mushrooms. Reporting on the field of global mental health from its colonial past to the present day, Riley discovers new and exciting therapies, including how a group of grandmothers stands on the frontline of a mental health revolution. A gripping narrative journey, A Cure for Darkness delves deep into the science of mental health and finds hope at the new frontiers of treatment.
Riley explores the long shadow of depression that winds through human history with intelligence and insight and - equally important - with courage and compassion. The resulting, remarkable book shines like a light against the night itself. * Deborah Blum * An outstanding achievement * Michael Berk, head of the IMPACT Strategic Research Centre at Deakin University, Geelong. * An engaging and informative book... Riley covers the field both historically and cross-culturally, while keeping the narrative flowing, rooted in his own experiences * Chris Dowrick, professor of primary medical care at the University of Liverpool * This is a wonderful book. * James Rucker, lead of the Psychedelic Trials Group at King's College London * A Cure for Darkness is both a compelling intellectual contribution and an act of generosity. Alex Riley combines meticulous reporting and evocative storytelling to reveal scientists' evolving understanding of depression and the many ways it can be treated. In this candid, accessible, era-spanning book, Riley brings rare sensitivity and lucidity to a topic that has defied comprehension for centuries, weaving a story that is both sweeping in scope and intensely personal. * Siri Carpenter, science journalist and editor of The Craft of Science Writing *
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