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When it’s more than the blues

16 January 2015

John Armson finds a friend for those who have depression

Recovering from Depression: A companion guide for Christians
Katharine Smith
SPCK £9.99
Church Times Bookshop £9 (Use code CT823 )

KATHARINE SMITH, the author of this book, knows from personal experience what she is writing about, and writes about it frankly, with clarity and compassion. I hope that labelling the book "for Christians" does not deter others from dipping into it; for it is full of wisdom and helpful suggestions. While the Christian faith features large in her account, her thoughts and ideas - and, indeed, experience - also move more widely.

The book is divided into four parts. After the initial introduction, which outlines the material of the book, the second section ("Setting out on a journey") lays out some essential warnings and wisdom for would-be readers, especially those who know depression at first hand.

The third part, headed "body, mind and spirit" (working together), urges care, in turn, for those three parties. It was interesting that in the text of her book "spirit" becomes "spirits". This might indicate to any would-be reader the kind of approach to which Smith sometimes moves as the book proceeds.

It might also connect with the warning she offers to those drawn to read her book. Either way, she advises readers who might be, or who are, subject to depression to be ready to protect themselves from blind avenues, and to be ready to forgive (and so protect) themselves. The final part of her book looks to how we can protect and shape (and so forgive) ourselves in the future.

Smith writes in an easy-to-read way, and her book could be helpful to anyone who longs for release from the horrid burden of depression - or anyone who finds himself or herself living alongside someone who carries that burden. Hers is a friendly book. She is not "technical"; so the "ordinary" reader need not fear.

I found it both a moving and a very accessible book.

Canon John Armson is a former Precentor of Rochester Cathedral.

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