rusq: Vol. 50 Issue 2: p. 185
Sources: Encyclopedia of Depression
Maria C. Melssen

Maria C. Melssen, Head of Learning and Information Services, Florida International University, Miami, Florida

Wasmer Andrew’s Encyclopedia of Depression has set out to provide a comprehensive overview to the multifaceted condition that is depression. The encyclopedia’s objective has clearly been met and surpassed. This two-volume work, which is also available as an e-book, has the traditional components of an encyclopedia, including an alphabetical list of entries and a detailed index; however, it offers a great deal more. Unlike similar works such as Roberta Roesch’s Encyclopedia of Depression (Facts on File, 2001), Andrew’s work offers the reader a wealth of additional features that provide other paths to a better understanding of depression. The quick reference guide at the beginning of each volume provides a detailed outline of the various topics related to depression. This tool allows the reader to see how the various topics are interconnected and acts as a guide to further research. The topical guide highlights some of the additional issues related to depression, such as diet and nutrition, experimental treatments, and famous people diagnosed with depression. The depression timeline is a historical break down of depression: from when it was first identified as a health issue through various discoveries and cultural events related to depression. These additional features are complemented by a further reading list and a list of various organizations, which range from support groups to treatment resources.

The Encyclopedia of Depression is comprehensive. Three hundred entries cover a variety of topics related to depression. Topics range from available treatment options, to biographical sketches of physician pioneers in the field, to details of the various types of mental disorders related to depression. The entry topics cover the lifespan: from “Anaclitic Depression” found in infants to the “Geriatric Depression Scale” used to assess depression levels in senior citizens. Cultural, ethnic, and social factors are also discussed. The entries vary in length and all include a bibliography. Cross-references, “see also” references, and charts are provided when available. The charts are invaluable when coupled with entries that cover complex topics. Examples include “What’s a Mental Disorder,” which covers the similarities and differences of various metal health disorders, and “Antidepressant Medications,” a comparison chart of the different antidepressants. Complex topics, such as “Reuptake” and “MAOIs,” are broken down so the layperson can fully understand the topics discussed. Also included at the end of many entries is a section for further information, which includes a list of relevant organizations and websites. The text has an easy to read, conversational tone. Though the topic is dark in nature, the read is rather enjoyable. The reader is left feeling better informed about the topic and inspired to learn more.

Though the Encyclopedia of Depression is well written and the entries are accompanied with bibliographies, the author’s background is problematic. Unlike Rick E. Ingram’s International Encyclopedia of Depression (Springer, 2009), whose entries are written by experts and practitioners in the field of mental health, Wasmer Andrews lacks strong clinical credentials or support. Though she holds a master of science in health psychology and writes frequently for “magazines, newsletters, and websites,” (, her lack of professional clinical credentials and collaboration with practicing mental health professionals makes the Encyclopedia of Depression not recommended for graduate students, researchers, or mental health practitioners. It is, however, recommendable for consumers and undergraduates looking for an introduction to depression.

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