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Ordinarily Well : The Case for Antidepressants (Reprint) (Paperback) (Peter D. Kramer)
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“A carefully argued and convincing case.” —Ann Levin, Associated Press
Do antidepressants actually work, or are they just glorified dummy pills? How can we tell one way or the other?
In Ordinarily Well, the celebrated psychiatrist and author Peter D. Kramer addresses the growing mistrust of antidepressants among the medical establishment and the broader public by taking the long view. He charts the history of the drugs’ development and the research that tests their worth, from the Swiss psychiatrist Roland Kuhn’s pioneering midcentury discovery of imipramine’s antidepressant properties to recent controversial studies suggesting that medications like Prozac and Paxil may be no better than placebos in alleviating symptoms. He unpacks the complex “inside baseball” of psychiatry—statistics—and reveals the fascinating ways that clinical studies and their results can be combined, manipulated, and skewed toward a desired conclusion. All the while, Kramer never loses sight of the patients themselves. He writes with deep empathy about his own clinical encounters over the decades as he weighed treatments, analyzed trial results, and considered the idiosyncrasies each case presented. As Kramer sees it, we must respect human complexity and the value of psychotherapy without denying the truth—that depression is a serious and destructive illness that demands the most effective treatment available.