The editors begin wisely. Instead of starting their book with its subjects stretched out anatomised on dissecting room tables, they begin with descriptions of being depressed or being manic written by people who have experienced these conditions. Any reader who has escaped these painful and destructive disorders should read the descriptions carefully and reflect upon them. This book, of more than 500 pages, containing 40 essays by clinicians, covers everything from brain imaging and electroconvulsive therapy to psychotherapy. It is an encyclopaedia, worthy of its subject, and I used it like an encyclopaedia. I put it on my shelves and took it down when I wanted to expand my knowledge in a particular area, or to examine whether or not I was up-to-date on a topic. Professor Mulders contribution on the duration and natural course of depression is particularly important (it is often subdued but only occasionally totally vanquished). The book was both illuminating and helpful. Importantly, it is also very thoroughly referenced so that one can pursue a topic further if one wishes.