Good Mood Bad Mood
by Charles D. Hodges, Jr. M.D.
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-936908-509
Mobi format: ISBN 978-1-936908-516
ePub format: ISBN 978-1-936908-523
(c) 2012, Shepherd Press, Wapwallopen, PA
The author’s thesis is basically that both depression and bipolar disorder II are being overdiagnosed because of both vagueries in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV & because physicians diagnosing these disorders fail to use the diagnostic criteria which that treatice has put in place. The result, he posits, is that Americans are being overmedicated, based on a biochemical theory of depression, for which he states the evidence is at best inconclusive. He further goes on to cite 2 cases with whom he has dealt as examples. He also says that society as a whole has confused normal sadness with depression, with the result, again, that people are being needlessly medicated with drugs, the side effects of which, can actually make patients worse. He further feels that sadness can be looked upon as a gift. Although not explicitly stated, he seems to feel that Bible-based counseling is more effective than medications in the treatment of depression, & that the diagnosis of bipolar disorder II is basically a nonentity.
Although he writes at the outset that depression should not be confused with normal sadness, my feeling is that he does just that. His case studies don’t deal with the types of folks whose depression causes them to have difficulty even getting out of bed for no apparent reason in their lives. That’s not sadness–it’s depression–it’s spirit-crushing and there’s no way it’s a gift. I’ve seen it bring godly men–pastors, in fact, to such despair that all they could think about was ending their agony. I also saw the difference 8 weeks of medication made.
Somewhere, there needs to be a balance. I totally agree that medication by itself is usually not a panacea. Neither is talk therapy. The combination may likely be better than even the sum of its parts.
The study of our brains is truly a vast frontier, and techniques such as FMRI and PET scan, among others, will likely bring about much greater knowledge in this area.
I’m personally uncomfortable with a general practitioner writing this sort of book. I’d have been far more comfortable were it written by a psychiatrist. I always used to refer those patients whom I believed to be suffering from depression or other mental disorder to a psychiatrist for evaluation and diagnosis. Simply because one is a doctor does not automatically qualify one to do everything. Doctors routinely refer to all sorts of specialists for physical diseases, but seem to feel that mental disorders, especially depression, which many seem to regard almost like a common cold, are within the purview of the average GP.
Oddly enough, I agree with the vast majority of the points he makes, but view his conclusions as simplistic, if not dangerous. I don’t think he intended it, but it felt to me like he was actually minimizing the devastating effects depression can have in peoples’ lives, and I’d be concerned about how it might impact a person who could benefit from medication but who might not wish to take it because of Dr. Hodges’s arguments against it. Even the title makes one feel that depression is little more than a bad mood. I really can’t in good conscience recommend that those suffering from depression read this book.