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Unipolar depression: a lifespan perspective
  1. M Maier

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    Ian M Goodyer, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2003, pp 203, £24.95. ISBN 0-19-851095-0

    At first glance this is a very unimposing book, with a cover design that makes little impression and barely 200 pages for so important a subject. The prevalence of major depressive disorder is 0.4–2.5% in school aged children, 3–8% in older adolescents and adults, and up to 16% in later life. This clearly has a massive impact on all aspects of the community and on the large number of people who suffer depression.

    Multi-author books often show a lack of balance between chapters, giving each topic the same level of importance, and often have duplication and overlap of subject matter. This book manages to avoid these problems, in large part because of the way it is structured in taking the reader through the various stages of life: infancy and pre-school years, the school aged child, adolescence, early adult life, mid life, and later life. This chronological, or maturational, perspective gives a much better appreciation of the intimate interactions of biological/genetic factors and experiences. Reading the book with this perspective is also in some ways a moving experience, as if watching and anticipating the development and progression of the illness in an individual.

    The book takes us through the literature up to and including 2002, which is as good as can be expected for a book published last year. The review of the literature is thorough and gives a balanced perspective. This is in large part because the authors are experts in the field and manage to write in a clear and pragmatic way linking clinical management with up to date research.

    It is a cliché to say you should not judge a book by its cover and this is a clear example of it. I am very happy to be able to keep this copy.

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