Depression, Mind and Medicine
The Clouding Counties
The Clouding Counties book is an autobiographical account of 15 years of serious ongoing but partly remitted depressive illness—specifically manic depression, or as it’s more usually called nowadays bipolar disorder. It is also an introduction to the science of depression—the biology behind what we know about its causes and the drugs we use to treat it. The style, therefore, varies from part to part: the science is concentrated in the middle, and the autobiography and other personal matters like the interaction of depression and personality surround it. There is also a chapter on the problem of suicide, which is integral to any discussion of depression. In addition, I gathered together a lot of information (not easily available in one place) on the actions and side-effect profiles of the major drugs on the market—not just antidepressants, but drugs used to treat accompanying conditions like anxiety, mood-cycling and insomnia. There is also some discussion of a topic that seems at first to belong rather to philosophy: the ‘mind/body problem’, the issue of whether there is such a thing as a non-material mind separate from the physical body.