Published on October 13th, 2023 | by Adrian Gunning
The Devil You Knew Book Review
Summary: The Devil You Knew is a very insightful book about depression and moving beyond this spectre
Unfortunately depression is entwined in our society and according to Beyond Blue, one in 13 people in Australia experienced depression symptoms in 2020-21. Further one in 5 Australians will be diagnosed with depression during their lifetime. Needless to say this has a huge impact on our society not just from a wellbeing point of view but also from a financial aspect.
Regrettably the rise of social media has also influenced these numbers as has the recent pandemic. However not all is lost and there are a myriad of supports to assist with depression such as talking with family and friends, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapies), mindfulness, exercise, medication or even smart devices… so yes, there is a wealth of information out there.
If you are seeking your own research and answers, then the book The Devil You Knew by psychiatrist and Professor Ian Hickie (Co-Director, Health and Policy at The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre) has released a very engaging book on the topic of depression. At its heart, The Devil You Knew is a not just a guidebook to depression (e.g. what is depression) but a fantastic resource. He goes into the history of depression, including myths and misconceptions and how to move past the “black dog” and when is the right time to ask for help?
While depression may not affect you directly, this mental health condition has a huge impact on those around us, including society itself that does not discriminate. Hickie also does a fantastic job at putting perspective on this mental health epidemic, including breaking it into the various stressors that could be environmental or physiological.
“Myth: Bad childhood experiences are the main cause of clinical depression”
Additionally, The Devil You Knew provides useful tips and strategies in managing depression, whether that’s for you or a loved one. I also like how Hickie “debunks” many misconceptions around depressions that unfortunately is ripe on the internet and social media. Needless to say, some of these “social influencers” and “snake oil merchants” are quite toxic and even dangerous to those suffering from depression and they target these individuals.
- The ‘average’ treatment is never the best treatment for you
- Finding specifically what works best for you may take some time and some genuine exploration of what makes you vulnerable to depression]
- Managing your own vulnerability is the equivalent of ensuring that your own boat (your mind and body) is seaworthy before you set sail across stormy waters.
Further, peer support plays a key component to this book as he shares some of the stories of the people he has worked with and how he has in essence re-trained them to break free of this sometimes debilitating mental health condition. Also by informing people of how they find themselves in this space, not only helps them understand but assists them in finding the right path out with the best strategies for them… hence the title, The Devil You Knew!
Belinda was brought to my office by one of our very smart non-medical works, who normally focuses on helping young people back to school… Belinda was falling asleep during school lessons, having unusual out-of-body experiences and feeling increasingly desperate about her future… Despite many desperate days, many close calls and residual cognitive therapy. She gradually returned to her original plan to complete school and go on to higher education…
The Devil You Knew is a thoughtful and meaningful read from start to finish as its author provides an excellent resource for depression from what it is to how to break through from this sometimes deadly spectre.