Before I begin my review of “The Peace of Mind Prescription,” by Dennis S. Charney and Charles B. Nemeroff (with Stephen Braun), I want to give two disclaimers.
Disclaimer #1: This book does not discuss obsessive compulsive disorder. They even mention that the book won’t discuss obsessive compulsive disorder, so don’t think “oh maybe it will….” Nope. It doesn’t.
Disclaimer #2: This book is not recent. Think ten plus years old.
Okay, one more disclaimer/review: Why in the world did they name it “The Peace of Mind Prescription”?? Totally lame title, in my opinion. I kind of hate that the title is so bad.
But besides all of those things….
I loved this book!
Maybe I’m weird, or maybe I’m just a person who has a Masters in sociology and originally wanted to do psychology for my undergrad but then realized psychology was a little too biology heavy for me. This book was a great fit for someone like me—who really enjoys studying how people act and interact, with a brief gloss over on the biological “why’s” of those actions.
Basically, “The Peace of Mind Prescription” delves very methodically into anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder (including their various types/forms like panic, PTSD, social anxiety, etc.). The authors give stories and examples, clinical symptoms, biological underpinnings, and then recommendations for treatment (including detailed analysis of various medications, therapies, etc.). They take you over these conditions in men, women, children/teens, and older adults. They give you websites and resources. There is even a fascinating chapter on suicide. And it’s actually pretty interesting and not too dry.
The subtitle of the book is “An Authoritative Guide to Finding the Most Effective Treatment for Anxiety and Depression,” and I want to give you a spoiler: the most effective treatments are pretty much the same all around, though details vary. Can you guess? Medication, therapy/counseling, or some combination of both. Yep. It should sound pretty familiar. They throw in some useful and fascinating information about electroconvulsive therapy, but mostly their recommended effected treatments begin to read like a broken record. (Is that an allowable comparison? Reading like a broken record? Probably not, but you get the gist).
For some reason, this was comforting to me. It’s good to know that there isn’t a mysterious cure for anxiety and depression. Mostly, you have to do the research and the work. You have to be strong enough to accept that you need to get help and then take the steps necessary to recover. But the emphasis is that recovery is possible. These aren’t impossible, hopeless conditions. Help is available and accessible.
One idea that I appreciated from “The Peace of Mind Prescription” was that medicine can help with the biological or “brain” problems and therapy can help with the mind, attitude, and relationship problems. As I read and pondered this book, I realized that so often we want the easy, cheap solution. We want to just take the pill and not have to think about our problem anymore. But the thing about just taking the pill (besides side effects) is that it isn’t necessarily healing the issue. Maybe it’s taking the edge off, distracting you, or something to that extent. But by and large, it’s like putting a bandage on a festering cut. Sometime that bandage will come off, fall off, or just stop working properly. And then where will you be?
Therapy, on the other hand, works to heal the problem by giving you tools to use to fight and counteract the anxiety, depression, (or OCD). Sure, maybe it can’t truly erase the issue, but it can act like scar tissue or a scab to keep the mental illness/”cut” under control.
Some mental illnesses require one or the other more predominantly; some (ahem, bipolar disorder) benefit most with both meds and therapy. But it’s best to do something. Don’t just suffer with a mental illness and try and be the martyr. What’s the point? These issues are far more common than we are generally led to believe, and by and large you can live a happier life than you are living now.
Reading this book is a good start on your path to finding that life. And it’s just plain interesting!