Alex Riley

A Cure for Darkness
  • A Cure for Darkness

  • 'Boldly ambitious, deeply affecting, and magisterial in scope' Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes

    'Expansive and thoughtful, it illuminates the complexity and elusiveness of his subject' New Statesman

    'A rich and generous picture of research into depression to date' Financial Times

    What is depression? Is it a persistent low mood or a complex range of symptoms? Is it a single diagnosis or a range of mental disorders requiring different treatments? And is there a way of curing such a complex, and diverse, condition?

    A sufferer of depression himself, science writer Alex Riley has spent years thinking about these issues as he was prescribed antidepressants and underwent cognitive behavioural therapy. Throughout his treatment, he wondered-are antidepressants effective? Do short-term talking therapies actually work? And what is on the horizon for those who don't respond to these first-line treatments? A Cure for Darkness explores all of these questions and more, as the author embarks on a journey to illuminate one of the world's most prevalent disorders.

    Weaving personal and family history, the book tracks treatments through centuries of science, from the 'talking cure' to electroconvulsive therapy to magic mushrooms. Reporting on the field of global mental health from its colonial past to the present day, Riley discovers new and exciting therapies, including how a group of grandmothers stands on the frontline of a mental health revolution. A gripping narrative journey, A Cure for Darkness delves deep into the science of mental health and finds hope at the new frontiers of treatment.

Alex Riley is an award-winning science writer and the author of A Cure for Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It, his first book. He received a best feature award at the 2019 Association of British Science Writers Awards for his reporting on The Friendship Bench, a project that began in Zimbabwe in 2006 and has since provided mental health care to thousands of people in New York. Since leaving academia in 2015, he began writing popular science articles for magazines such as New Scientist, PBS's NOVA Next, BBC Future, Mosaic Science, Aeon, and Nautilus Magazine. He lives in Bristol.

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