Getting It Done When You're Depressed, Second Edition, 50 Strategies for Keeping Your Life on Track, by Julie A. Fast and Dr. John D. Preston, PsyD;, ABPP (2021)

Getting It Done When You’re Depressed, Second Edition, 50 Strategies for Keeping Your Life on Track, by Julie A. Fast and Dr. John D. Preston, PsyD;, ABPP (2021) is a more comprehensive edition than the first edition which was also very well organized and helpful.  The additions of social media use and scripts is especially constructive.  In the introduction (viii), “depression is defined by established understanding as a physiological illness that needs to be treated as compassionately and as successfully as any physical illness. No matter whether your depression is the result of a certain recent event or if your depression has been around for years, the fact is that your brain is not functioning correctly because of changes in brain chemicals. You need to do all you can to get better, just as you would if you had pneumonia or some other physical illness.”

According to the authors,  Julie A. Fast and Dr. John D. Preston, PsyD;, ABPP, Getting It Done When You’re Depressed, Second Edition, offers 50 strategies to break the cycle of inactivity that so often accompanies depression. The strategies in this book are practical and easy to apply and can lead to a lifetime of productivity, regardless of your mood.

The intent of the authors is successfully deployed in this new edition.  This edition includes scripts, social media and its impact on symptoms of depression and anxiety, and anecdotes from people with lived experience as well as Julie A. Fast, one of the authors. The explanations of the symptoms and why a particular strategy is likely to be effective offered by Dr. Preston underscore the value of the solutions offered. 

The book Is laid out in such a way that every strategy follows a similar format.  The format is comprised of an introductory narrative, a person using the strategy, a first-hand account by Julie A. Fast, a script to share with a trusted person, an exercise, a summary question answered by Dr. John D, Preston for research informed support of the strategy, and then final comments.  This is a consistent approach used throughout the book and one that is presented in an engaging manner, without judgment, and with the use of layperson language.  The chapters are short and therefore very accessible to individuals with depression, their supportive others, and professionals.

The author is a prolific writer, researcher, and an individual with lived experience.  From the back cover: “JULIE A. FAST has lived with chronic depression since age 19. She uses the strategies she created for this book to move forward in life on the toughest days. Julie is the author of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder,  Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder,  OMG,  That’s Me! 2, and The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder. She is an award winning mental health columnist and educator. Julie also focuses on helping parents and partners understand how depression affects a person’s life. You can read more about her work on www.juliefast.com.

JOHN D. PRESTON, PsyD., ABPP worked as a professor of psychology with Alliant International University, Sacramento, California. Dr.  Preston is the author of 18 books on psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, spirituality and emotional healing, and neurobiology, among others. He also authored the “Drugs in Psychiatry” chapter in The Encyclopedia Americana.

The tone of the book is friendly, accepting, and easy to relate to.  When reading, one can almost sense someone sharing an exciting new strategy that may be helpful.  There is no criticism, judgement, or censor.  There is a tone of acceptance, informing without badgering, and recommending a “try it, what have you got to lose” approach.

I work with families uprooted by mental illnesses/brain disorders of loved ones.  I am always on the hunt for resources to guide them into improving and strengthening their families.  This book is one that I encourage the families I work with to purchase in hard copy so that they can highlight, make notes, and refer back to when they are feeling hopeless and at a loss when their loved ones are experiencing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.  This is a great resource for individuals with lived experience of depression and when they are doing well, can access and incorporate the recommended strategies based on how their illness manifests so that they have a template for when they are beginning to slide into depression.  This book is intended to build understanding about depression and its partner anxiety while encouraging symptom management, partnering with others, and overcoming the soul-crushing internal dialogue that is representative of a distorted perspective that masquerades as truth.  There are so many tools that are offered to assist in managing the paralysis of depression that one can easily implement whatever is relevant to their needs.  I especially like the scripts and the exercises because they offer ways to develop mastery of the use of the tools with the support of others. 

I highly recommend this book for individuals who experience chronic depression, their supports, and professionals who work with clients who live with depression or love someone with depression.  This is a great resource with a comprehensive menu of options for understanding the nuances of depression and its often crippling and debilitating impact on individuals, their significant relationships, and their productivity.  Understanding depression, strategies to counter its most deleterious effects, and shifting into a more constructive and affirmative life are certainly worthy of attention.  This book offers a way to build a foundation of managing depression more effectively.