In one ‘Cathy’ comic, the heroine crossly describes men as ‘all solution, no sympathy.’ For depressed teenagers and their parents, as Dr. Miriam Kaufman has learned over 18 years of work with teens, this attitude can be as misguided as the oft-derided ‘all sympathy, no solution’ approach. She conveys both sympathy and solution in Overcoming Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents, maintaining a scientific, matter-of-fact tone throughout.
Kaufman makes no attempt to gloss over the complexity of depression’s causes and manifestations; she believes that people need to understand their problems in order to deal with them honestly. Thus, she avoids over-simplification and distinguishes between everyday unhappiness and clinical depression as well as between depression and illnesses with similar effects. A diagnosis of major depression requires loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities, sometimes experienced as sadness and sometimes as apathy. This feeling must be continuously present for two weeks, accompanied by four of the following: sleep problems; changes in eating patterns; difficulty concentrating; listlessness; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt; suicidal thoughts.