Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic

How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy

The rate of depression is the United States has increased more than tenfold in the last fifty years, and American mental health institutions have become part of the problem rather than the solution. The good news is that age-old wisdom and legitimate science—uncorrupted by the profit-margin pressures of pharmaceutical and insurance companies—have much to inform us about revitalizing depressed people and a depressing culture. Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic provides an alternate approach that encompasses the whole of our humanity, society, and culture, and which redefines depression in a way that makes enduring transformations more likely.


How does a sane person find meaning in a world gone mad? The question is not a new one, but author/psychologist Bruce Levine offers timely insights about the social and cultural causes of demoralization. Like other critical thinkers within the existential tradition Levine implies that the phenomenon of psychological depression is a ‘not unreasonable’ response to the pressures of corporate authoritarianism. What was once a country of immigrant aliens has become increasingly a country of the alienated. But is this alienation inevitable? Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic presents startling facts, powerful anecdotes, and poignant aphorisms. In this, the Dark Age of the pharmaceutical-military-industrial complex, Levine has given a much needed wake-up call which challenges each of us to find our own antidote, in the healing aspects of integrity, nature, self-transcendence, and community.”–Grace E. Jackson, MD, author of Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide for Informed Consent

“In a society permeated by medicalized images of ‘depression,’ Bruce Levine reminds us to take a broader view, and incorporate historical analysis, social criticism, cross-cultural perspectives, creative insights, and spiritual wisdom into any future public discourse about why so many in our culture are so unhappy, and how we can best help them thrive instead. Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic is a bold, intelligent, courageous, and insightful book that will enlighten and inspire many individuals who count themselves as among ‘the depressed’ (including myself).”–Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. author of The Human Odyssey, and The Myth of the A.D.D. Child

“While Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic is an excellent self-help book, it is not just for the clinically depressed. This well-conceived and researched book illuminates the general malaise tinting the canvas of our lives and validates the background of unhappiness inherent in our contemporary lifestyles–a background often mislabeled as pathological. We are all trying to survive this epidemic. The book is empowering, energizing, and provides a road map to greater psychological health, motivation, and fulfillment.”–Stuart Shipko, M.D., author of Surviving Panic Disorder

“If you’ve ever smelled a rat in the way corporate America tears down community with one hand and pushes antidepressant drugs with the other, this book is for you.”–Will Hall, co-founder of Freedom Center (Northampton, MA) and staff member, The Icarus Project

Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic bravely connects much of the overwhelming despair in our society to society itself, and offers innovative remedies. I encourage anyone who has ever asked, ‘What are the alternatives to the current mental health system?’ — to read this book. Bruce shows us an array of specific, practical options to fight the good fight on our increasingly demoralized planet. As a psychiatric survivor, I highly recommend that mental health professionals read this book.”–David W. Oaks, Director MindFreedom International

“This well-written and insightful book locates depression where it should be situated‐in the dehumanization of American culture and the corporatization of psychological health and well-being. Moreover, Dr. Levine offers insights into what we’ve lost sight of and what we can do about it.”–David Walker, Ph.D., Associate Professor, American School of Professional Psychology

“This is a terrific book. Bruce E. Levine argues convincingly that our modern depression epidemic is the result of a demoralized society. He integrates critical thinking about psychiatry, extensive clinical experience with clients diagnosed as depressed, and a refreshing look at the factors that affect our morale–alienation, consumerism, and spirituality. Highly recommended.”–Jeffrey Lacasse, MSW, Visiting Lecturer, College of Social Work, Florida State University

“Levine is the smartest, most level-headed guy around when it comes to depression, and it comes from years of clinical practice, not ivory-towered theory.”–Kirkpatrick Sale, contributing editor for The Nation and author of The Fire of His Genius: Robert Fulton and the American Dream and After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination

“Unlike pharmaceuticals, this book is an anti-depressant that works. When depression is a reaction to a depressing culture, all the drugs in the world can’t numb us to the truth that health–whether mental, physical, or spiritual–is about wholeness. This is the message we should be getting from our preachers, politicians, doctors, teachers, and therapists. What a rare, welcome, and timely message.”–Rev. Davidson Loehr, author of America, Fascism, and God

“Levine’s holistic approach, bolstered by plenty of scholarship and popular literary references, will give depression patients a useful big-picture perspective.”–Publishers weekly

“Bruce Levine exposes our unhealthy way of life. He argues convincingly that modern medicine–marvel that it is–cannot save us from the pains and struggles that come with living and dying. His is a trenchant, though not ideological, critique of ‘powers and principalities’ that prey upon depression, powers that have greatly increased in our lifetime. His simple calls to restore lost communal and personal practices ring true. I plan to share this book with church members fighting depression or tempted to despair.“–Rev. Randy Cooper, United Methodist pastor (Ripley, TN)

Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic offers a fresh perspective on what ails America, the ‘community malnourishment’ that fuels dispirited morale, disconnectedness, and a frantic search for meaning. Dr. Levine challenges us to look past diagnoses and labels, reminding us that community and horizontal connections inherently offer the balance with which our souls can be nourished, helping us discern lasting paths to healing and wholeness in American life.”–Rabbi Lewis H. Kamrass, Isaac M. Wise Temple (Cincinnati, OH)

Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic inspired me as I was reading it and a few days later I even notice that some of my own ideas and behaviors have actually changed. There are many brilliant insights throughout, forgotten in our modern helping culture. The book would be just as–or even more–useful for helping professionals as for laypersons. It’s the best self-help book I’ve ever read and I’d recommend it to anyone. What makes the book so valuable and interesting… is that Bruce links the most private personal troubles to the most complex socio-economic trends, without trivializing either dimension. Rather he constantly engages the reader, revitalizes, and inspires one to want to transform oneself and the world. Is there anything more to ask for?”--Professor David Cohen, College of Social Work, Justice, and Public Affairs, Florida International University and co-author of Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs

“A distinct pleasure. A thoughtful, compassionate and refreshingly humble look at what we call depression–well-written, easy-to-read, original–a philosophical treatise on the nature of ‘being,’ what it means to be alive, and the debilitating nature of our corporate society. It prompts the reader to embrace a much more expansive notion of what might be considered a ‘normal’ range of emotions.” –Robert Whitaker, winner of the George Polk Award for Medical Writing and author of Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill

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    Untouchable. | Scintillating Speck October 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |

    […] night, sniffling with a cold, lying in bed, I was re-reading a remarkable book by Bruce Levine, Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic.  The radical premise in this book is that “depression” (a misleading term if there […]

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