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Freud once said that nobody is "normal," and after reading Shadow Syndromes, you may well be convinced of that. While more than 50 million Americans suffer from full-fledged mental illnesses such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, millions more suffer from milder forms--yet they likely don't realize it. From chronic sadness to low self-esteem to shopping addiction to intermittent rage disorder, compassionate authors John J. Ratey, M.D. and Catherine Johnson, Ph.D. chronicle the often-undiagnosed (yet definitely insidious) "shadow" disorders. One of the most eye-opening points the authors make is that men who "can't commit" to a relationship may in fact be suffering from an unrecognized adult form of attention deficit disorder.
Shadow Syndromes is thorough, but at the same time it simplifies the technical aspects of mental illnesses--no stacks of footnotes or complicated neurotransmitter charts here. The authors use plenty of anecdotes to illustrate how everyday people have recognized and overcome shadow syndromes. They also prevent the book from becoming one big bundle of bad news by stressing that these disorders are treatable with medications such as Prozac, which Johnson took to handle her mild depression. Specific lifestyle changes are also advised, including more sleep, changes in diet, and more exercise. The "Care and Feeding of the Brain" chapter compiles other empowering, healing approaches. This book will be valuable not only for those who believe they're suffering from a shadow syndrome, but for doctors and therapists as well. --Erica Jorgensen [via]