Sara's Reviews > The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon
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's review
May 22, 2007

really liked it
Read in December, 2006

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 the role of early and repeated stressors -- models with similarities to post-traumatic stress disorder that explore the role of chemicals like adrenaline in depression. None of that is in this book.

Still, Solomon's work on the social contexts of depression is what makes this worth reading. Solomon is at his best when he puts religious notions of the sins of accedia and sloth, and puritan ethics of hard work, careful forethought and stoicism together with the puzzle of a "brain disease" that would render someone incapable of adhering to those standards.

NB: if you're currently experiencing depression, this is not the book for you, both because of its density and because Solomon is drawn to cases of idiomatic or treatment-resistant depression, meaning that the prognosis for depression winds up looking a bit bleaker than it is for the general population.
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04/14/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Hi Sara, do you have any recommendations for reading that includes the newer research you mentioned, that explores the role of early and repeated stressors?


message 2: by Kristin (new) - added it

Kristin There is new research on Ketamine/glutarminergic drugs (currently in Phase II trials in the US) being successful on idiopathic and TRD. As someone who is not at all helped by seratonin modulators (SSRIs are very weak and rather unsuccessful drugs, IMO), I have found the glutamate theories to be not only interesting but seemingly promising. Some work with n-acetyl-cysteine as a supplement add-on are also encouraging and this is also used as a kind of glutamate reuptake inhibitor.


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