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Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy [Paperback]

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Item description for Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy by Bruce E. Levine...

The rate of depression in the U.S. has increased more than tenfold in the last fifty years. By not seriously confronting societal sources of despair, American mental health institutions have become part of the problem rather than the solution.

The good news is that age-old wisdom and legitimate science--uncorrupted by the profit-margin pressures of pharmaceutical and insurance corporations--have much to inform us about revitalizing depressed people and a depressing culture. Surviving America's Depression Epidemic provides an alternate approach that encompasses the whole of our humanity, society, and culture, and which redefines depression in a way that makes enduring transformation more likely.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   216
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 26, 2007
Publisher   Chelsea Green Publishing
ISBN  1933392711  
ISBN13  9781933392714  

Availability  0 units.

More About Bruce E. Levine

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Bruce E. Levine, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and has been in private practice since 1985 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His most recent book is Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite (2011). He is also the author of Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (2007), and Commonsense Rebellion: Taking Back Your Life from Drugs, Shrinks, Corporations, and a World Gone Crazy, and has authored a chapter for Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry. Dr. Levine has been a regular contributor to AlterNet, Z Magazine, and The Huffington Post and his articles and interviews have been published in Adbusters, The Ecologist, High Times and numerous other magazines. He is an editorial advisor for the Icarus Project/Freedom Center Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and on the editorial advisory board of the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. Dr. Levine has presented talks and workshops to diverse organizations throughout North America. Visit Bruce's blog on The Huffington Post at

Bruce E. Levine was born in 1956.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Mental Health > Depression
2Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Self-Help > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy?

The Book That Cured My Depression  Apr 11, 2008
The reviews here for this book so far have been pretty detached and impersonal. I'm now going to provide a personal account. I do not say this lightly: This book saved my life.

Last year I picked up Bruce Levine's "Surviving America's Depression Epidemic" at Barnes & Noble as a sort of impulse buy. I was scouring the self-help/psychology section during what was probably my worst depressive episode of my entire life. I don't know what possessed me to pick this particular book. I seriously wasn't expecting much. I wasn't actually familar with the author and the title itself is sort of hokey-sounding. I was prepared for nothing more than a superficial rewording of stuff that I'd already heard a million times or some crackpot theory. However, as soon as I got past the title and started on the introduction, I realized I was reading something very, very different. Dr. Levine's book is well-written, well-researched (the last 24 or so pages of the book consists of copious bibliographical notes), and well-designed. But it isn't just rehashing of old information with a new wrapper. Levine culls much insight out of the available research on not only the nature of what we call "depression" but also into the way we live.

What most struck me was that Levine absolutely refuses to oversimplify the problem of depression. He tackles the issues from an expansive sociological framework that puts what clinical psychology labels as an "illness" into a wider historical, social, and personal context. His thesis is as follows (quoting from the Introduction itself):

"Americans live in the age of industrialized medicine, and everyone - inside and outside of health care - is now in the same boat. Doctors are financially pressured to be speedy mechanics, and patients often recieve assembly-line treatment, which can be a painful reminder of their assembly-line lives. While most Americans manage to go to work and pay their bills, more than a few struggle just to get out of bed, and growing numbers feel fragile, hollow, hopeless, and defeated.

"In 1998, Martin Seligman, then president of the American Psychological Association, spoke to the National Press club about an American depression epidemic: '[W]e discovered two astonishing things about the rate of depression across the century. The first was there now is between ten and twenty times as much of it as there was fifty years ago. And the second is that it has become a young person's problem. When I first started working in depression thirty years ago... the average age of onset was 29.5. Now the average age is between fourteen and fifteen.'

"Despite the unparalleled material wealth of the United States, we Americans - especially our young - are increasingly unhappy. What is happening in our society and culture? How is it that the more we have come to rely on mental health professionals, the higher the rates of depression? And are we in need of a different approach to overcoming despair?"

Levine tackles these questions with tenacity and wisdom I've never seen in any other book on depression. He redefines depression itself as a coping mechanism to shut down the anguish we feel. He offers hope to those who feel sensitive and misunderstood by relating historical examples (from Abraham Lincoln to Kurt Cobain) and offers insights into how we as individuals can find ourselves at odds with the society we grew up in. Depression is not a disease to be anesthetized with drugs, but a vital cry of our own humanity calling out to us in a largely dehumanizing world. Doctors no longer treat us as individuals just when we truly need it, but rather we become a list of symptoms and a consequent prescription.

This all may sound at odds with the current research on depression as a biological disorder organic to the brain. However, Levine reveals that this isn't at all at odds with the current RESEARCH (which has never supported a purely chemical genesis for depression) but rather the current THEORY of biological depression as popularized almost exclusively by pharmaceutical industry propaganda. It's interesting that Levine wrote this book several months prior to the widely publicised findings earlier this year (originally made public by The Wall Street Journal in January 2008) of a survey of studies submitted to the FDA that were never published. (The survey revealed that the alleged efficacy of antidepressants may have been highly inflated.)

Levine's plan of healing is empathetic, wise, and liberating. Unlike most such book there are absolutely no exercises or tedious worksheets or charts to fill out. Instead, Levine weaves in a hugely comprehensive list of approaches to healing including nurturing emotional openness, fostering friendships, using artistic expression, exercise, community activism and even ritualism as a means of coping.

A good portion of his approach is influenced by Buddhist psychology, with a particular emphasis on mindfulness and forgoing ego-attachments. This application of Eastern meditative traditions to depression has also recently been expounded upon by another group of psychologists in The Mindful Way through Depression, which also came out last year. That book provides excellent advice and tools for preventing relapse of depression, although it lacks the social/emotional insights that Levine elaborates on quite eloquently. That said, it is still an excellent resource.

I must state here and now that this book is not for people who have already made up their minds about depression and already decided they are "cured." If, however, you are like me and have not been helped by the current mental health industry and still feel numb, hurting, and lost in your life, I urge you to give this book a chance. One other point that I actually found quite refreshing was his criticism of talk-therapies such as CBT, and the clinical patient-therapist relationship. He acknowledges that such a relationship (a kind of "paid friendship") may not be the most conducive to healing and, in fact, may actually exacerbate the problem.

Had I heard what the book was about before I had the chance to actually read it, I might have dismissed it. However, several months after finishing it, my life has been completely transformed and I no longer feel so "broken." The term life-affirming gets thrown around a lot these days. But I cannot hesitate to call this a life-affirming read for anyone who is still struggling.

Levine also takes an interesting angle that I was not aware of when I first bought it (but apparently is in concert with the publisher's - Chelsea Green Publishing - credo). Levine posits that the society of consumer culture that contributes to depression cannot be sustainable in the long run. This is interesting and, although it may seem irrelevant when you just want to feel better, it actually helped me get out of my own head and see depression as a cultural problem as well. In other words, it helped me stop taking depression so personally. (This is an important point, and Chapter 5 deals with the dangers of "Self Absorption.") It is truly liberating to realize there may not be anything really wrong with YOU if you are depressed, but there may indeed be some things very wrong with the society you live in.

And, if all that wasn't enough incentive to buy a copy, for the environmentally conscientious among us, Chelsea Green publishes all their books on recycled paper! You can't go wrong.
best new medical bebunking around  Feb 27, 2008
This is my favorite medical-debunking book of late, very related to the topic of end of empire, which is why I put it in my listmania of that topic, along with books on climate disaster, corporate/imperial/military-industrial complex overreach, peak oil and etc!). Levine is an erudite genius and skillfully and wholistically weaves anthropology, history, sociology and art in with his vast knowledge of orthodox medicine. Especially fascinating are his little known revelations, such as: during antebellum times in the USA, a slave who was a chronic runaway or disobedient would be diagnosed with a mental illness. Levine ties this in with current diagnosis of rebellious teenagers with their very own dysfunction to be medicated, ("compulsive anti-authoritarianism" (?) Well, I can't recall the term right now, had to return the book to the library, alas, but I suspect I will check it out again and again and eventually break down and buy it, which is a rare occurence. That just shows you how much I admire this book and find it valuable, especially coming from a large family full of misfit artistic melancholic, indigenous anti authority types).
~ Lesley Thomas, author of award-winning arctic shaman eco-novel Flight of the Goose
The rate of depression in the U.S. has increased tenfold in the last fifty years  Feb 7, 2008
The rate of depression in the U.S. has increased tenfold in the last fifty years, indicating an underlying social issue as well as a health challenge. Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy and Community in A World Gone Crazy surveys the roots of these issues, discussing how to revitalize depressed people and a depressing culture and offering insights on how to change ideas and behavior patterns. Both college-level holdings strong in psychology and general-interest lending libraries will find this a most accessible account identifying the foundations of societal depression and offering plenty of insights on how to combat it.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
Agreed--a book that finally makes sense about depression  Dec 8, 2007
This book is much more than a self-help book--the issue is bigger than any one individual. All of us, whether we're depressed ourselves or not, have been touched by depression through friends, family, and colleagues. This book helps make sense of it all and offers suggestions about how, collectively, we get on the road to recovery. I am recommending this book to people at every opportunity. Dr. Levine hits the nail on the head.
A Book That Finally Makes Sense About Depression  Oct 30, 2007
I have just finished reading this book, and I am so grateful for every chapter. Other books on depression have left me feeling more confused, not less. I had read articles by Levine before and felt he was on point at analyizing why depressed people, including myself, are not being helped by current treatments. This book delivers valuable insights into how Big Pharma and its allies have won the minds, hearts and money of Americans. It also brilliantly takes to task America's skewed values - while offering energizing ideas for combating depression and crushed morale.

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