Women’s Mental Health in Primary Care

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
July/August 1999 Volume 10, Number 4
©1999 Gürze Books

(By Kathryn J. Zerbe, M.D., W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia 1999; 380 pp; $39.00)

These days it’s rare for a textbook on any subject to be written by a single author. When a single-authored textbook appears on women’s health, written by a female physician-psychiatrist who is also a graceful, fluid and elegant writer, and when that author’s primary areas of scholarly interest have focused on eating disorders, psychoanalytic psychology, and feminist issues, what a natural for EDR.. To add to that pleasure and pride, the author is a member of our editorial board. Irresistible.

Readers of Dr. Zerbe’s wonderful previous book, The Body Betrayed: Women, Eating Disorders, and Treatment, have deservedly come to expect poetic style, literary flare, and compassionate humanism. They will not be disappointed. Although this book is aimed at primary-care clinicians, it will be richly rewarding for all mental health professionals and others who deal with the wide range of women’s health and mental health problems. Scattered through the various chapters on depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, psychosis, sexuality and intimacy, the older patient (and, of course, eating disorders, trauma and violence, and many other subjects), are remarkably helpful mini-essays. Who can resist well-written, sensible sections such as “Patient Guidelines for Coping with Depression;” “Patient Guidelines for Coping with Trauma and Violence”; “Modern Tools for Helping Women Manage Stress”; “What Can Safely Be Advised Concerning Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure to Psychotropic Drugs?”; “A Practical Technique for Helping Women Achieve Sexual Satisfaction”; “Special Considerations for the Lesbian Patient”; and, for this virtually cradle-to-grave discussion, “Why is Alzheimer’s Disease a Women’s Mental Health Problem?” Of course, it goes without saying that the chapter on eating disorders includes superb guidelines for clinicians and patients for coping with eating disorders and obesity at all stages of life. Each chapter contains helpful annotated resources for patients and resources for primary care clinicians (translation: all of us). Bottom line: This book is a definite “keeper,” one that you’ll want to keep nearby and, in contrast to many textbooks, read cover to cover.

— J.Y.

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