A Cure For Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It
A Cure For Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It by Alex Riley is a near-complete history of depression and the various methods of treatment. From Freud to psilocybin, ECT to LSD, Riley compiles a detailed walk-through of mental health issues. He sprinkles in his own ongoing struggle with depression, providing his real life experiences including thoughts of suicide.
The book is highly researched and readable. A few times it bogs down with stats but is fine for any layperson. You won’t get lost in scientific terminology but Riley still comes off as an authority on the topic of depression despite being quite young.
A Cure For Darkness weighs heavier towards the story of depression over how we treat it. There is plenty of both sides, and there is a smorgasbord of treatment options. Historically, some of these options have come and gone. Several were terrible in their usage. Riley covers many of the newer treatment options thoroughly.
When treating depression, as Riley excellently details, there are many variables and difficulties. Not all treatments work for all people. Many need a multi-pronged approach, a mix of therapy and drugs as well as exercise and diet. Most enlightening to me is the focus on a better diet and exercise. These are two things that a person can (usually) do right away with fairly quick results. The big problem is that health insurance is more likely to cover drugs over other treatment options, especially gym memberships, personal trainers, dieticians, etc.
Overall, Riley’s writing style is smooth and readable. He doesn’t waste a lot of time with flowery pose nor jargon. I really appreciate that he mixed in his own struggle with depression. Too many people view mental health as a weakness. We’d never shame a person being treated with cancer but it is often the case when it is someone with depression.
The best way we can treat mental health and especially depression is to fully embrace all avenues of treatment. We need to allow for experimental treatments whether with psychadelics or otherwise. We need to support people seeking group or one-on-one thereapy. We need governments to provide funding and assistance to all who need it. And we especially need schools teaching and helping kids. This is an area that is failing incredibly (although not really covered in the book).
A Cure For Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It by Alex Riley is a must read for anyone who lives with or knows someone with depression. In other words, it is for everyone.