Five words from the blurb: fear, stress, mental, health, research
Scott Stossel has spent his entire life battling crippling anxiety. In an effort to understand his condition he has compiled medical research and historical information about a wide range of sufferers; showing how generations of people have dealt with their problems. He includes details about many famous people, showing that the affliction does not prevent people from achieving great things.
I was pleased to discover this book on the Wellcome Prize shortlist as I thought I suffered from anxiety, but I quickly realised that I don’t. The nervousness I feel when approaching a stressful situation isn’t in the same league as the anguish of those within these pages. I was surprised to discover how serious the condition can be and how prevalent it is within our society; especially given the fact it didn’t exist as a diagnostic category 35 years ago.
The book contains a vast amount of information about medical research into the condition. It was all well referenced, but contains enough light-hearted side-notes to ensure the reader doesn’t become bogged down in technical detail.
I’d assumed that this book might contain strategies to help deal with anxiety, but this isn’t a self-help book. Despite years of therapy, Scott Stossel hasn’t been cured of his anxiety and, although it contains information about different techniques tried through the ages, this book doesn’t contain any direct guidance on how to deal with anxiety. Instead it gives a brutally honest insight into the condition, explaining what life is like for those trapped by phobias and catastrophizing thought. I now have a greater empathy for those who are suffering, and that is more than enough for one book to provide.
The only real problem was that the structure wasn’t quite right. There were a few sections that repeated information given earlier in the book and in places it didn’t flow as well as it could. These minor problems can be overlooked as it is such an important resource for those with anxiety.
Overall, this was an impressive compilation of information on anxiety and I recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about the condition.