Is the latest science at odds with current popular understandings of depression, the world’s largest source of disability? That’s the question Center for Healthy Minds Professor Charles Raison and fellow Co-Author Vladimir Maletic have posed in a new book The New Mind-Body Science of Depression for clinicians and mental health professionals. Raison, the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Families & Children at the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology, sat down to share insights from decades working with patients and researching new ways to treat depression.
In your new book, you suggest a shift in our current thinking regarding depression. Why?
Depression is not as discrete as we currently think, and there are several lines of evidence arising to support this. First, it’s unbelievably common. The diagnostic tools we have are useful and important, and I personally don’t think we’ll come up with anything better in the very near future, but they’re increasingly out of line with what we know. We don’t know exactly what depression is, but we’re increasingly recognizing that it’s not a single “disease.” Why does one person develop depression while someone else develops generalized anxiety while somebody else becomes manic and has a break – that’s what we don’t understand very well. One thing we write about in this book is that in the literature and studies, depression seems to be less of a discrete disease and more of an evolved response to adversity.