There is some awfully good advice in Depression Freedom: Ending the Reign of Darkness, but there is also advice that is questionable. The problem is that there are different types of depression. Depression is a lot like influenza; the vaccine that will work against one strain won’t do anything for a different strain. That may seem a simplification.
The fact is that treatment of chronic, clinical depression is inappropriate for situational depression, and treatments for situational depression are often valueless to the chronically depressed. Depression Freedom: Ending the Reign of Darkness might be an excellent book for those suffering from situational depression (i.e., people who know why they are “sad”). It is very positive, hopeful, and realistic. It encourages the depressed person to “own” their depression — understand it, admit it, and take responsibility for it.
For clinically depressed patients, it is a drawn-out pep talk. Not everyone believes that chemical treatment of depression is necessary (nor does everyone believe in wholesale vaccination against polio), but talk to someone who has been taking Prozac — or any effective antidepressant — for 15 years, who knows that s/he will be taking it for life, and who knows how bad things can be when meds are skipped for a few weeks. Ask that person how effective all the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps, you-have-nothing-to-be-depressed-about, just-cheer-up pep talks were before they began the medication regimen.
In Depression Freedom: Ending the Reign of Darkness, Annette Colby makes the point that depression is a naturally evolving state. Instead of trying to avoid it, one must confront it, accept it, and control it. This is excellent advice for the situationally depressed, and hearkens back to Wayne Dyer’s statements that we are responsible for the way we feel, and that we make conscious choices regarding how we will react emotionally to various stimuli (which is why an oversudsing, overflowing washing machine will make some people frantic and others laugh).
There is a spiritual component to Depression Freedom: Ending the Reign of Darkness, and non-believers will find its references to God or a “higher power” unhelpful. It also has a new-agey feel, and many of its recommendations are more appropriate for those suffering “spiritual depression.” In fact, author Annette Colby “has been a pioneer in conscious evolution for over twenty-five years. As an author, empowerment counselor, and teacher of enlightenment, she is committed to fostering inner peace and helping people move beyond fear and limitations to live a heart-awakened life.”
Of everything contained within Depression Freedom: Ending the Reign of Darkness, particularly alarming are the references to suicide ideation. Colby may believe that “suicidal thoughts are part of your journey,” but for many depressed people it is the end part. A chapter entitled “Allowing Suicide as an Option Promotes an Exploration of Life” may work on a philosophical level, but anyone considering ending his or her life should be encouraged to find professional help qualified in the area of mental health.
As a self-help book for readers who feel an “inner emptiness” or other vague feeling of dissatisfaction, Depression Freedom: Ending the Reign of Darkness may be exactly what’s needed. However, those suffering from clinical depression could better spend the time needed to read its 300 pages with a psychiatrist or waiting for their new medication to kick in. Despite its good intentions, I would not recommend Depression Freedom: Ending the Reign of Darkness to anyone who suffers from — or suspects — a serious emotional illness or disorder.