“This is Your Brain on Depression” by Faith G. Harper


Faith G. Harper
Microcosm Publishing (2018)
ISBN 9781621062233
Reviewed by Araceli Noriega for Reader Views (4/19)

Dr. Faith Harper’s “This is Your Brain on Depression: Creating Your Path to Getting Better” is part of the author’s ‘5 Minute Therapy Series.’ In this volume, she sets out to destigmatize clinical depression and go over treatment options.

The author effectively presents both what clinical depression looks like at a neurological level and how the biological process translates into behavioral patterns. Dr. Harper then informs her readers about a myriad of treatments and related methodology. The appendices section includes information on books as well as online resources for further reading. Additionally, Dr. Harper shares important statistics, tips on what to ask a new provider, and basic pharmacological information on medications to treat depression. The ‘References’ section serves a as second recommended reading list for the avid readers. Using the supplemental information in these last sections, readers are able to inform themselves on treatment options while keeping a wide-angle lens on the challenge of obtaining treatment. As such, the author effectively carries out the purpose of her book.

Dr. Harper executes a balance between technically flawless writing and an unusually refreshing delivery. She transitions seamlessly between the snarky and the scientific, reinforces her points with clearly relevant examples, and maintains a compassionate tone throughout.

This book was written for a curious and open-minded audience. The reader will see adult language set in stark honesty about difficult life circumstances. This publication is for readers with busy lives, it can be read in just a few hours and it contains actionable steps to start treatment for depression.

My favorite part of the book was the opening sentence (sorry, no spoilers!). Dr. Harper disrupts all notions of what a proper first sentence for a book should be. She’s raw, unconventional, and straight-forward from the beginning of her text. There are several humorous and accurate references to pop culture, keeping a steady pace which makes for lively reading. These are all things I really enjoyed from the book, but my favorite aspect was the genuine effort which is made to destigmatize mental health illnesses as seen here:

“The big, horrible thing is that we then so often become defined by this label. It becomes who we are instead of something we have.” 

I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to learn and understand clinical depression and the available treatment options. Its structure lends to a quick read with further reading if desired.

Dr. Harper, author of other books such as “Unf*ck your brain: Getting over anxiety, depression, anger, freak-outs, and triggers…with science!” and “How Not to Kill Yourself: A Survival Guide for Imaginative Pessimists”, writes a gem in “This is Your Brain on Depression: Creating Your Path to Getting Better”. By presenting a concise explanation about the nature of clinical depression in a spirited style, Dr. Harper quickly engages readers. Her compassionate delivery of solution-focused, actionable steps to treatment leaves her audience centered and filled with hope. This is the type of conscientious writing that can transform a person suffering with mental illness into someone who is thriving with it.  

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