edited by Eric J. L. Griez, Carlo Faravelli, David Nutt, and Joseph Zohar; Somerset, New Jersey, John Wiley and Sons, 2005, 562 pages, $200
Dr. Smith is assistant professor of psychiatry and Ms. Wogsland is research coordinator at University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.
This volume balances exciting promise with frustrating limitations as it seeks to survey the landscape of mood disorder research through many lenses. The book's scope is ambitious, ranging from the expected discussions of medication and psychotherapy treatment, epidemiology, and genetics to a welcome and eclectic mix of chapters on brain stimulation, subthreshold disorders, sleep findings, novel drug targets, and clinical trial design.
The book is an outgrowth of the "European Programme in Affective Neuroscience"; all but five of the book's 37 authors are from outside the United States. As a result, many chapters benefit from contrasting European and U.S. approaches to mood disorder conceptualization and diagnosis. The chapters on genetics and neuroimaging are simply the clearest summaries of these often opaque fields that we have read, and each includes particularly valuable discussions of the limitations in the existing research. The chapters on epidemiology, unipolar depression, and comorbid anxiety and depression provide some fresh insights into these well-trodden territories.
However, the admirable aims of the book are not equaled by its presentation. Perplexing choices are evident, such as the decision to allot twice the number of pages to a chapter on subthreshold mood disorders as the chapter on bipolar disorder. From the first page of the introduction, it is clear that some authors, and perhaps the editor, conceived of this book as a volume about depression rather than mood disorders. The entire discussion of the treatment of mania in a volume of over 500 pages occurs in less than two paragraphs. Other topics, such as the neurobiology of mania, are simply not covered. Many readers will also notice a number of lesser distractions, such as inconsistencies across chapters in structure and the density of technical language. Certain chapters also suffer from stunningly poor line editing.
This book has some exceptional elements and a refreshingly broad scope, making the unevenness disappointing. The manual is strongest as a review of current research issues and as a guide to the conceptualization of research questions, but it is weaker as a guide to clinical management. We would give the book an A for scope, a B for thoroughness in the treatment of what it covers, a B for coverage of the clinical management of depression, and a D for coverage of the clinical management of mania.
To readers willing to overlook the inconsistencies and awkward language, this book would be a valuable acquisition for specialists in mood disorder research and for academic libraries. Neuroscientists and students looking for succinct but comprehensive summaries of many aspects of mood disorder science—especially related to depression—will find this text to be a worthwhile, practical resource.