In the sea of books about how to best help teenagers manage depression, anxiety and academic stress and the myriad mental health and parenting experts who are brought to Palo Alto to speak on these ever-present topics, one local psychiatrist is hoping to add something different to the conversation.
Jacob Towery, who sees local adolescents and adults at his private psychiatry practice in downtown Palo Alto, has penned a new book that he hopes will offer teenagers -- not their parents or school administrators or therapists -- a guide, in their own language, on how to battle depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
"The Anti-Depressant Book: A Practical Guide for Teens and Young Adults to Overcome Depression and Stay Healthy" will be released March 16. Towery started working on the book about a year ago, wanting to make the work he does with clients in one-on-one sessions more widely available.
"There are a lot more people that call needing help than there are hours to see people and a lot of adolescent therapists around here are pretty full," Towery said in an interview.
He was spurred to action by the second teenage suicide cluster Palo Alto experienced in 2014 and 2015. During the previous cluster in 2009 and 2010, Towery was working with students at Gunn High School as an adolescent psychiatry fellow at Stanford University. Towery hoped putting the same principles he works on with his patients into an affordable, accessible book could be his contribution to helping a broader swath of teens.
The book was written specifically for teenagers and young adults, in "layman's terms" with no psychiatry jargon, Towery said. He also aimed to keep it short (under 300 pages) and affordable (under $10).
"A lot of books out there are written for adults and parents," he said. "This one is really written for teenagers."
Towery's background is primarily in cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on helping people learn how changing their thoughts and mindsets can then change their feelings and behaviors. The book offers a series of how-to's based in this philosophy: how to change entrenched ways of thinking, how to have healthy sleep and exercise habits, how to increase motivation. There are also chapters on meditation, gratitude and relapse prevention, he said.
The final chapter explores "how to go from the normal ups and downs of ordinary life to feeling optimally content and having meaning and joy and connection with others," Towery said.
Towery received an undergraduate degree in psychology from Duke University, attended the University of Virginia School of Medicine and went on to an adult psychiatry residency at Stanford Hospital, then the child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship, also at Stanford. He is now an adjunct faculty member at Stanford's School of Medicine and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He opened his private practice in Palo Alto in 2011, specializing primarily in anxiety, depression, phobias, social anxiety disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), ADHD and personality disorders.
Towery's own next chapter in supporting local teens, he hopes, will be to start in 2017 free, brief therapy groups or classes for adolescents struggling with particular issues, such as depression or social anxieties.