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Book Reviews   |    
Psychiatric Illness in Women: Emerging Treatments and Research
Reviewed by Leah Dickstein, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 2002; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.53.12.1638-a
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edited by Freda Lewis-Hall, M.D., Teresa S. Williams, B.Sc., Jill A. Panetta, Ph.D., and John M. Herrera, Ph.D.; Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Publishing Inc., 2002, 658 pages, $65 softcover

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This easy-to-use, easy-to-read, and succinctly written and edited reference will be welcomed by all health professionals, from students to senior clinicians, who are seeking information about women's unique psychiatric illnesses. The volume's 61 authors, ranging from postdoctoral fellows to internationally known researchers—psychiatrists, psychologists, and pharmacists—clearly cooperated in following chapter guidelines to ensure that topics were defined and described, DSM-IV-TR criteria were listed, sex differences were explained, treatments were presented, and needs for further research and references were noted.

Psychiatric Illness in Women comprises five sections: anxiety disorders and other related disorders, major depressive disorder and related disorders, schizophrenia and related disorders, dementia and related disorders, and other psychiatric illnesses and special topics. The topics covered in the fifth section are particularly important for understanding women's psychiatric symptoms, signs, and disorders. Chapters included in this section cover the effects of victimization and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on substance use disorders among women, sex differences in substance use disorders, sex composition and sex differences in dissociative disorders and their relationship to trauma and abuse, serotonin neuronal function in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and pharmacological management of psychiatric illness during pregnancy.

Throughout the book, tables are used to present the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria, and findings on sex differences are illustrated with references and other features. The index includes bold-faced numbers to enable the easy identification of tables and charts.

Although the title of the book refers to women, comparisons are made throughout the book with the more widely known diagnostic features, physiology, treatments, and prognoses of men. The book's in-depth yet succinct presentation of this much-needed information is of great value. The inclusion of epidemiology, sociocultural considerations, premorbid factors, side effects of medications, treatment outcomes, and prognosis makes Psychiatric Illness in Women a book that will be used frequently, especially in multidisciplinary clinics.

Importantly, the book acknowledges that several nationally known researchers—Jean Hamilton, Margaret Jensvold, and Judith Herman—have recommended using the diagnosis of PTSD rather than borderline personality disorder for women suffering from abuse at any stage of their lives. The book's discussion of the biological basis of disorders is useful, as is its coverage of postpartum disorders and differences between the sexes in the psychopharmacology of antidepressants and adverse effects of medications.

It might have been useful to include more information about hypomania and mania among women. Inclusion of psychodynamic psychotherapy would also have been useful, along with information on cognitive-behavioral therapy and treatment of PTSD.

The book's coverage of drugs of abuse and their unique effects on women, due to metabolic and physiologic differences, is excellent. The discussion includes tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine.

In summary, Dr. Lewis-Hall, the book's senior editor, has envisioned and edited a much-needed volume that will help its readers to understand the unique mental health needs of women and provide correct diagnoses, treatments, and prognoses.

Dr. Dickstein is affiliated with the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences of the School of Medicine at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.




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