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The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  9,786 ratings  ·  781 reviews
Sometimes, the legacy of depression includes a wisdom beyond one's years, a depth of passion unexperienced by those who haven't traveled to hell and back. Off the charts in its enlightening, comprehensive analysis of this pervasive yet misunderstood condition, The Noonday Demon forges a long, brambly path through the subject of depression--exposing all the discordant views ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published April 2nd 2002 by Scribner (first published 2000)
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,786 ratings  ·  781 reviews

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Feb 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ever been or known someone who was sad?
hands-down the best nonfiction book i've ever read, _the noonday demon_ is exhaustive in its examination of depression and mental illness, weaving the author's and others' experiences with "major depressive breakdown" with rigorous research on scientific, anthropological, evolutionary, political, artistic and historical perspectives on the emotion/disease.

solomon engages difficult philosophical questions like whether the blunting of depression by SSRIs is worth its cost in human emotional plasti
Leo .
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Down, so down, oh! The sorrow, I could drown
Overwhelming emotions, crowding my mind
It gets me down, this mundane grind
Like groundhog day, perpetual recurrence
Day in, day out, such annoyance
I'm starting with the man in the mirror, the Abyss
Lose the Ego, and find my bliss

Depression sucks! I suffer with acute insomnia as a symptom. This is when I do a great deal of my writing during the witching hours. Here is one of my many rhymes:


 Tick Tock... Tick Tock...Tick Tock

In my head or simply on
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The survivors stay on pills, waiting... We go on. You cannot choose whether you get depressed and you cannot choose when or how you get better, but you can choose what to do with the depression, especially when you come out of it."
This was an incredible book that took me months to read, a dense mighty tome about depression. It weaves together the author's personal experience of multiple breakdowns and decades of treatments with other narratives, scientific research, historical background, and s
Наталия Янева
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Гледах за пръв път Андрю Соломон в една негова лекция за TED, наречена ‘Depression, the secret we share’ . Стори ми се леко странен човек, който гледа твърде втренчено и говори сравнително бавно, но подхожда с дълбочина и проникновение към темата. ‘The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression’ може да ви прозвучи като помпозно заглавие, но ви уверявам, че Соломон наистина не е написал нищо по-малко от изчерпателен атлас на това така недоразбрано психическо разстройство.
‘The most accurate statement
Nov 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
After slogging through a large chunk of The Noonday Demon, I've come to accept I just can't see it through to the end. This book is lethal: alternately depressing readers, boring readers, and making readers roll their eyes so hard they pop out of their heads.

First: depression on any level, mild or major, brief or chronic, is a painful, crippling ailment. Anyone who pulls themselves up and fights automatically earns a bit of my respect. I know how hard the attack is and how hopeless it can seem.

Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A piercing, painful, and oh-so-necessary book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression examines depression through a cultural, personal, and scientific lens. Andrew Solomon, well-known for his TED Talks and his varied publications, reveals the agonizing depths of the illness as well as its progression through time. His thoughtful and insightful perspective supplements his extensive research, and he analyzes several of depression's facets: how it spans different parts of the world, how it affec ...more
This was a good book, but I found it more scholarly, less readable and harder to get through than similar books such as Peter Whybrow's A Mood Apart and Lewis Wolpert's Malignant Sadness. Perhaps this is because Solomon cites a lot of philosophers. He has extensive notes, but the book itself isn't footnoted; you have to go to the back and sort of guess what bits in each chapter the notes are referring to. That's frustrating. I do, however, think this book is valuable, particularly the chapter on ...more
And this ladies and gentlemen, is how you write about depression.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book I have read for a long time. The War and Peace of depression. A compelling, comprehensive, personal, tightly written, passionate and well researched exploration of depression in all its darkness at noon dimensions. I read it too fast in a few sittings, because I found it so compelling. And I found huge insights in his experience;even the most extreme of his experiences, because he writes like a traveler back from a largely unexplored, often denied, uncomfortable not well r ...more
Feb 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
especially recommended for anyone who has ever dealt personally with depression. the scope that solomon attempts is vast, covering literature, history, psychology, sociology, politics, anthropology, etc etc. though many questions go unanswered, from the start he is honest about the intention of the book and it is not to give answers. if anything it is to raise questions. what we get is a valuable overview of a complex and misunderstood mental illness that can only help to further the dialogue.
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book a few months ago at an amazing used bookstore in New Orleans. I guess it had been improperly shelved in the religion section. Amazing book for anyone who has struggled with clinical depression or has family/friends with depression/bipolar disorder. Addresses the subject partially anecdotally, but also from sociological, biological, economic, and historical perspectives.

There have many eloquent and accurate reviews of this book (by Joyce Carol Oates, William Styron, Edmund Wh
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another incredible book by a clearly incredible soul. I read “far from the tree” by Andrew Solomon first and was blown away by the granularity of his detail and clearly erudite research that had gone into that absolute tome of a book and this was no different. He writes in an incredibly detailed way and yet his writing is totally engaging and readable. Andrew is a pretty interesting person himself. He had 3, I believe, catastrophic depression incidences during his life and maybe one even during ...more
I first read this shortly after it came out, and I remember liking it then. Apparently I have become a much pickier reader of nonfiction in the last decade, as I liked it much less this time around.

The Noonday Demon is unsatisfactory on a number of fronts. As science writing, it's insufficiently rigorous and awfully anecdotal; it tends toward summary and eschews proper footnotes in the name of "readability". I like footnotes and citations; I find most arguments for avoiding them in this kind of
Mahmut Homsi
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
هذه المراجعة هي تلخيص و ليست تقييماً للكتاب

الاكتئاب قديم قدم الإنسان .. حينما بدأ الإنسان يعي ماحوله و يعي نفسه بدأت معه معاناة الاكتئاب
الاكتئاب المرض الذي يستحي منه الجميع ! يخجلون به و كأنه ضعف شخصي أو فشل اجتماعي
الاكتئاب الذي يختزل الماضي و المستقبل في الحاضر .. لا نتذكر متى كنا سعداء آخر مرة .. و لا نستطيع أن نتخيل أن نكون سعداء مرة أخرى
الاكتئاب ملازم للحب .. هو آلية إنسانية للحب .. نحن نحزن على خسران من نحب .. الاكتئاب هو هذا الحزن .. هو آلية هذا الحزن
الاكتئاب هو الغطاء الذي يمنعنا من سماع
Atila Iamarino
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Não fazia ideia do quão debilitante a depressão pode ser. Ótimo apanhado de causas, consequências e histórias por trás da depressão, em um embrulho auto-biográfico e com entrevistas que dão o lado humano da depressão. Menos acadêmico do que costumo ler, mas por isso mesmo deve interessar mais gente.
Randy Mcdonald
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Andrew Solomon’s 2001 book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression is the book that made Solomon’s name internationally, a survey of depression that avoids the survey’s flaws of superficially recounting its symptoms, its history, its treatments.

The Noonday Demon is a comprehensive survey of the issue that begins powerfully by recounting his own experiences: when his depressions began, what triggered it, what it felt like, what worsened it, what could start to make it better. Without his person
Lily ☁️
Before you read on, be aware that the paragraphs I quote could have potentially triggering content, so please skip those if need be. Your mental—and physical—health are what is most important.
“Every second of being alive hurt me.”

Reading The Noonday Demon was an incredibly enlightening, educational, ingratiating, and above all emotional experience. It is not an easy book to read, and it is definitely not suited for people who aren’t willing to commit to the entirety of the ups and downs it so
May 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Depression: more complicated than the Lexapro ads would have you believe.

An intelligent and very thorough interdisciplinary introduction, but with a publication date of 2002, it hews pretty close to the serotonin-oriented theories of depression (although Solomon does a nice job of explaining how very little is known about how Prozac-generation antidepressants actually work, even though they clearly DO work). Since then, medical research has gone on to explore models of depression that explore t
Bleak Mouse
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Harrowing, fascinating, moving -- and depressing. My sole problem, if indeed it is a problem, is that the author (as he remarks of Robert Burton embraces the paradoxes and contradictions rather than reconciling them. So prepare to be a bit confused by too much information, although all of it is vital -- in one context or another.
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Richard Bernstein of the New York Times referred to this book as "All-encompassing, brave, and deeply humane." This is why he gets the big bucks: with those few words, he succinctly captures the essence of Solomon's approach to his subject. "All-encompassing" because Solomon breaks down the science of depression's condition and treatment, unpacks its global history, examines its sociology both via population statistics and cultural context(s), and illustrates all of it with stories of real peopl ...more
Chun Mei
Aug 09, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who want to learn more about depression
I love this book for many reasons. Andrew Solomon talks about depression in the context of biology, history, politics,and poverty. He also shares his own story of longterm depression and the stories of individuals and communities in the US, Cambodia and Greenland. The book is more for people who want to gain a greater understanding of depression rather than people who want to be lifted out of a depression. But don't worry, the book itself is focused too much on how people experience and overcome ...more
Joseph D. Walch
Apr 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
I know depression is a great malady in this postmodern nihilistic world, but reading this book gave me wonder how somebody who was born into privilage with all the leisure and worldly advantage that is denied 99.9% of the worlds population (who don't have private horse-riding lessons and attend posh private schools--who don't have the opportunity to fall into deep depression while on a 3 month tour of Europe, who may choose to end their lives slowly with alcohol instead of flying to London to pu ...more
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help, 2009
The best book on depression I've seen; I had to hold myself back from photocopying so many of the passages to pass out to friends and family, to say THIS IS WHAT IT IS LIKE. The only reason I can't give it five stars is because it was so heavy it took me months to get it through it. Its importance goes far beyond 5 out of 5 stars though.
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Alegra by: Rebecca
I really liked this book. I'm on a psychology major and it really gave a different perspective to my studies. It explains absolutely every topic you can relate to depression. It is not depressing in itself, rather informative. What best way to tackle an enemy if not by learning all you can about it? I loved this book, and I really love the friend that refered it to me!
Morgan Blackledge
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book by an amazing writer and all around lovely, soulful human being Mr. Andrew Solomon.

The subject is utterly important, as all of us either have or have had depression, or know someone who has or has been afflicted. It's a serious matter in which lives may hang in the balance, making this unique insiders view absolute required reading.

That being said, I am sooooooo dang glad to be finished with this book. I'm not trying to scare anyone away from the book, but I would feel r
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone whose life has been touched in anyway by depression, and everyone else!
Shelves: favorites
I've had recurring major depression for almost 2 years now, and it's been just over a year since I took a medical leave from college to address it at home. I can't even begin to explain how overwhelmingly impossible it can feel to talk about my depression, even with my family, or even acknowledge it honestly to myself when I'm having a better day than usual and can do basic daily activities that most people don't even think twice about (outside in public no less!). Considering what I've experien ...more
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I took this book on vacation because I knew I would want to be able to read it thoughtfully. I admired another book by Mr. Solomon- Far From the Tree - and I wasn't disappointed with this earlier work about depression. The author writes with great intelligence, empathy and the ability to articulate many angles of complicated problems. He is very candid about his own struggle with depression and sympathetically relates the stories of other people. I wish this could be required reading for everyon ...more
Jamie Cerretti
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was a doozy (as evidenced by the fact it took me over a month to read). I'm still thinking about some of the personal stories and I really liked the chapter on evolutionary theories about depression. It's definitely not a light read but I learned a lot about a disease many of us struggle with in one form or another.
Joshua Buhs
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Deep in the book, Solomon confronts the spiritual ancestor of his own tome, Robert Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy," and his assessment of it is also an assessment of "The Noonday Demon": mixing "a millennium of thought and a steady supply of scattered personal intuitions, [Anatomy] is a subtle, self-contradictory, badly organized, hugely wise volume."

The NoonDay Demon purports to be an atlas, which is a genre not widely written or read anymore--atlases are reference material. But this is a book
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really loved this book and would've given it five stars but for two issues:

1. It was really only about severe depression, not depression in general. While those stories are obviously important and deserve to be told, the majority of people who suffer from depression do not have major breakdowns, lose their jobs and friends, get hospitalized, or undergo ECT or psychosurgery. It would've been nice if the book gave more attention to those with milder forms of depression.

2. The fact that Solomon d
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Scientifically valid? 1 12 Jul 11, 2018 01:04AM  
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Well+ Book Club : * Thoughts on Oct Book - Noonday Demon. An Atlas of Depression 1 5 Sep 26, 2017 07:52AM  
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Andrew Solomon writes about politics, culture, and health. He lives in New York and London. He has written for many publications--such as the New York Times, The New Yorker and Artforum--on topics including depression, Soviet artists, the cultural rebirth of Afghanistan, Libyan politics, and deaf culture. He is also a Contributing Writer for Travel and Leisure. In 2008, he was awarded the Humanita ...more
“Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don't believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it's good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.” 1815 likes
“I believe that words are strong, that they can overwhelm what we fear when fear seems more awful than life is good.” 1553 likes
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