Depression: Understanding the Black Dog

Depression: Understanding the Black Dog

This accessible work addresses a universal health issue with a toolbag yielding the ways depression manifests and insight into the treatments available.


Having suffered from major depression for much of her life, Stephanie Sorrell has learned to work with the disease rather than against it. Where so many mental-health books feature ‘fighting and overcoming‘ depression, her experience and understanding have enabled her to see the value of the condition rather than what it can take away.
In this easy-to-read introduction to depression Stephanie shows the various ways in which it manifests, what is available on a natural as well as chemical level and how the diversity of psychological therapies serve and hold depression. There is also a spiritual thread running through which invites the reader to go further...


The image of the Black Dog has become a commonly understood metaphor for depression in western societies. The first use of the phrase is usually attributed to Dr Johnson, which confirms that depression has been a significant part of our cultural narrative since the very first stirrings of the Industrial Revolution. Prior to that ‘melancholia’ featured in many philosophical, literary and medical texts, but it is only in the last hundred years that depression has become such a prevailing concern in so many contexts, both individual and communal. One is almost inclined to agree with Leonard Cohen’s view that: “…the term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversations these days…one has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape”. The strength of Stephanie Sorrell’s approach to the subject lies in the way she teaches us to progress beyond the concept of depression as a “catastrophe”, whether for society as a whole or for each individual sufferer. She quotes overwhelming evidence to demonstrate that depression is a ‘given’ in the real world, and that it is something which each person who experiences it may have to learn to live with. She argues, very persuasively, that we make a rod for our own back by falling for the myth that happiness can be a permanent condition. The trick is to learn from the experience of the ‘down’ periods. This approach means that the book is actually about good mental health rather than simply depression itself. Positive qualities that can be extracted from depressive experience are emphasised: resilience, strength, staying power, empathy, insight, determination and creativity. There is an ever-increasing supply of books about depression, but Stephanie Sorrell has managed to write one that deserves the word ‘definitive’. The tone is measured, calm and practical. A great deal is conveyed within a succinct compass, and she touches on all the key elements of the subject, from medication to the spiritual dimension. Along with vast numbers of other people, I have experienced depression myself, have met many friends and relatives in the same position, and have worked with the phenomenon in a professional capacity for many years. I cannot think of a single person whose life would not be improved by reading this book, it is a straightforward, unassuming triumph. Ted Eames ~ Ted Eames, Reviewer for New Vision

, I read Stephanie's book over the weekend and really enjoyed it. I like the bit about the geese on page 71 and your longing to go with them and swept up in their sense of purpose. I know just what you mean and you have described it well. I found the book lucid and really positive conclusions about orthodox and non orthodox medicine and how these can be combined. Also, interesting to know about all the types of anti depressants. It seems that low level anti depressants really can help sometimes and can be vital to keep stability. ~ Elizabeth Medlar(editor of New Vision),

In this easy-to-read introduction to depression Stephanie shows the various ways in which it manifests, what is available on a natural as well as chemical level and how the diversity of psychological therapies serve and hold depression. There is also a spiritual thread running through which invites the reader to go further. ~ BrumbySunstate

This small compact book is deceiving. Although it is under 100 pages long it holds so much helpful and understandable information about the nature of Depression and Bipolar Disorder. It de-mystifies these conditions and explains them in terms that lay people can understand and work with. The writer, herself a suffer of depression, has an MA in Phsychosynthesesis Psychology and trained as an Applied Practitioner at the Institute of Psychosynthesis in London and also works at an NHS hospital in Cumbria, UK. Because of her background Stephanie is able to talk about the subject from all aspects including signs, symptoms, treatment and medication with great insight and balance. This book is a must for all practitioners/therapists who come into contact with the general public and will help them to understand the nature of ‘the black dog of depression’. For those whom themselves are sufferers or have a loved one who is suffering reading this book will give them greater insight into the disorder, its treatment and will find they have more compassion for the sufferer. Hopefully, as this subject is opened up and more people understand the nature of the condition then the stigma currently attached to Depression and Bipolar Disorder with become a thing of the past. Depression and Bipolar Disorder affects a larger portion of society than one would dare to imagine, reading this book will help each one to deal with the subject and the suffers with compassion and support. It is a book I will share with others and will keep a copy on my bookshelf for further reading and reference. Thank you, Stephanie for writing this book which is helping me to understand this area of mental health more fully. ~ Diane Morgan, Spiritual Insight:

As a psychotherapist I thoroughly recommend Stephanie Sorrell's new book. As a parent and grandparent I wish we had this simple and accessible introduction to depression many years ago to recommend to our family and to our friends. ~ Roger H Evans, Psychotherapist and Author, 5DL - Five Dimensions of Leadership and The Creative Manager

Despite the fact that one in four people will experience depression there is very little agreement on how to treat it. Is medication the answer or one of the many talking therapies? Stephanie Sorrell brings a lifetime of experience to the subject, as a sufferer and also in helping others to navigate this difficult terrain. In Understanding the Black Dog, she gives a balanced and practical guide to this debilitating condition which will support and lend insight to those who suffer from depression and those who aim to help them. ~ Maurice Tomkinson, Founder of the Hope Street Clinic, Sandbach

Stephanie June Sorrell
Stephanie June Sorrell Stephanie's main passions are the psychospiritual dimension of life and the natural environment. She worked as editor for New Vision magazin...
Emotional Intelligence by Jane Wharam

Emotional Intelligence

Jane Wharam

Emotional Intelligence by Jane Wharam helps improve relationships by taking control of emotions.

What Aging Men Want by John C. Robinson

What Aging Men Want

John C. Robinson

Helping men find personal meaning and male friendship amidst the universal struggles of aging, this book maps the journey home to love.

Emotional Life - Managing your feelings to make the most of your precious time on Earth by Doreen Davy

Emotional Life - Managing your feelings to make the most of your precious time on Earth

Doreen Davy

Emotional Life explains how we can harness our own emotional power in order to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Smashing Depression by Terence Watts

Smashing Depression

Terence Watts

Depression is an insidious enemy, gradually eroding confidence and willpower... but this book restores the spirit and strength to fight back - and win!

Intimate Relationships by Mavis Klein

Intimate Relationships

Mavis Klein

A stunningly eye-opening, original typology of five basic personality types, ten compound types, and fifteen types of interpersonal relationships.

Live Issues by Mavis Klein

Live Issues

Mavis Klein

A passionate, opinionated, provocative collection of essays - thought sprints - from 'Men and Women' to 'The Life and Death of God'.

Shaman Pathways - The Celtic Chakras by Elen Sentier

Shaman Pathways - The Celtic Chakras

Elen Sentier

Tread the British native shaman’s path, explore the goddess hidden in the ancient stories; walk the Celtic chakra spiral labyrinth.

Pagan Portals - Kitchen Witchcraft by Rachel Patterson

Pagan Portals - Kitchen Witchcraft

Rachel Patterson

Take a glimpse at the workings of a Kitchen Witch and share in the crafts. By popular writer and kitchen witch, Tansy Firedragon.

Pagan Portals - Hekate by Vivienne Moss

Pagan Portals - Hekate

Vivienne Moss

Hekate, Queen of Witches and the Shadow-Lands, haunts the pages of this devotional bringing magic and enchantment into your lives.

Less Incomplete by Sandie Gustus

Less Incomplete

Sandie Gustus

Based on 40 years of scientific research, this book is a dynamic guide to understanding life beyond the physical body.

login here

  • BOOKS:

join our mailing list submit enquiry login here