Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson (a review)

Quite simply, Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor's Personal Journey through Depression is a God-send for anyone who struggles with depression and for the loved ones of those battling the illness.

A quick topical search here on Amazon shows that almost 49,000 books on the subject of depression are currently available. While I certainly haven't read them all, I have read a countless number of them in the past 10 or so years, so I was somewhat skeptical that this book would provide any new insight or be any different. I was wrong.

First, author Dr. Michelle Bengston knows what of she speaks. Her extensive experience as a psychologist who works with patients struggling with depression would more than qualify her to author this book. However, her own personal experience with depression is what sets this book apart from others on the subject. It is refreshing to read a book from a qualified physician who has been in the trenches, who has faced her own dark times, and who has come out on the other side.

Because of her own experience, Bengston knows first-hand that the typical treatment regimen of medication, counseling, journaling, exercise, etc. in and of itself is not enough. Unlike many clinicians, she recognizes that a person is far more than just a physical and emotional being, and she explains and stresses the importance of a person's spiritual health as they battle the often-debilitating disease of depression.

Dr. Bengston's own personal testimony is relevant and recognizable to those facing their own battles with depression; that testimony provides invaluable hope to her readers. They quickly see that they are not alone, that someone knows what they are going through, and that that someone can provide hope and help.

Bengston avoids the two traps that most books on depression fall into; it is neither too technical or too "touchy-feely". Rather, Bengston's writing is warm and engaging while at the same time clear, concise, and informative. When I first saw that at the end of each chapter she had provided a playlist of songs to download, I was tempted to skip right past them, but I decided to give the first set a try and found that listening to these songs as I went about the business of my day reinforced what I had been reading. I know have a wonderful "Hope Prevails" playlist that I find uplifting and encouraging!

The title of this book is an apt one. The tools Dr. Bengston provides give hope, and they provide a way *through* depression to a better, healthier life on the other side.

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