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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Hope Again" (Mark Sutton and Bruce Hennigan)

TITLE: Hope Again: A 30-Day Plan for Conquering Depression
AUTHOR: Mark Sutton and Bruce Hennigan
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B and H Publishing, 2014, (240 pages).

Far too many books about depression talk only about depression. Some "experts" may not necessarily have been depressed themselves. The authors of this book are none of the above. Both have battled depression themselves. Both know that depression is more than simply a clinical or psychological condition. Dealing with depression requires a mental aspect. It requires light to illuminate when darkness beckons. It exposes the "lie" by showing that there is more to life. More importantly, they point us to the Hope in God and recovery that comes with a 30-day plan. The authors believe firmly that there is a plan; it can be put into practice; and the plan will give hope to those who are depressed. Four questions frame the entire book.
  1. What's Wrong with me?
  2. How did I get here?
  3. Where do I Start?
  4. How Can I Conquer Depression Forever?

The first section, begins with a personal question or confession. The first seven days help us to self-diagnose our conditions by screening out "harmful thinking patterns leading to depression." It points out the symptoms of depression. It equips us by using "LifeFilters" and to remember that depression is a function of "mind, body and soul." Thus, any solutions must address all three components. Thirty LifeFilters, one per day, can be used as ways to conquer our depression, to be encouraged to stay close to God, to think correctly about depression, not to worry about things beyond our control, and to trust. The second section helps us understand the history, the context, and the unique conditions that led to instances of depression. It is about examining one's previous foundation, and to find a way to correct or to reconstruct a whole new foundation. Sutton and Hennigan combines scripture and their knowledge of neural sciences to give readers a better understanding of the physiological makeup of a person. Key to conquering depression is to break the habitual loop. Section Three builds on the hope to recovery by making a firm commitment to listen only to constructive voices and to refuse to listen to suicidal thoughts. The commitment is also as simple as intentional working out of the 30-Day plan, periodically asking whether one is still on the plan in a disciplined manner. There are tips about getting a primary care physician, using the "Weapon of Meditation," the need for patience, being aware of side effects of antidepressants, good counselors, spiritual help, using the "Weapon of Knowledge," learning the various depression vocabularies, the gender differences, etc. Readers will also learn about the four important strategies to break the cycle of bad habits. Strategies like learning to switch off the addictive thing; using the "Weapon of Selflessness," and so on. Section Four is a hopeful section that sustains the hope of recovery and that depression can be conquered permanently. 

There is a triumphalistic emphasis in this book that is prevalent throughout. The authors are so convicted of their 30-day plan simply because they have heard very positive feedback and heartfelt gratitude from patients who claim the plan had "saved their lives." In fact, I find the way the book was written to be very persuasive, educational, and very practical. The various Weapons of Perseverance, Knowledge, Meditation, Selflessness, of Setting Goals very helpfully describe what people can do. Knowledge indeed is power, and the way that the authors have described makes the book extremely readable. The Scripture passages weaved into the book give the book a biblical perspective. The step by step instructions make the book easy to follow. With the free downloadable "LifeFilters," readers can carry the 30 days of plans and activities with them all the time. 

However, I believe depression is often far more complex than we think. A book like this may be most helpful for people PRIOR to their depression, if they are planning to use this book in the first place.
That means that whoever is under depression, and the ideas in this book are to be used, it will probably be best if someone else is guiding the person.  That said, the authors do exhibit many areas of keen understanding of what goes on in the mind of the depressed. That is the reason why they focus heavily on the "Weapon of Knowledge" as a base for all of the 30-Day plan. The liberal use of Scriptures demonstrate their trust in spiritual guidance. Their practical steps are easy to follow and readily available. Still, I would personally prefer the authors to tone down their promises and to supply other resources that promote greater listening, learning to experience pain rather than to simply will pain away, or to simply treat depression as something to be dispensed with in the first place. In the realm of spirituality, there is a certain "dark night of the soul" that is simply a phase of life that can be learned or examined first. It may very well be a way God is trying to teach us. That is why I say depression is so complicated that Sutton's and Hennigan's prescriptions only address certain types of depression. The authors can do us a favour by giving us tools to discern what kinds of depression.

Hope Again is a good book that educates and equips us with tools to deal with depressive behaviours. It should not be the only tool. It is to be a supplement in the wider arsenal of resources for depression.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of B and H Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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