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on December 5, 2010
For the last 7 years I have fought with depression that has gone from mildly inconvenient at times to downright debilitating at other times. I discovered Dr. Ilardi's book after coming off of almost a full week of being unable to even make it out of bed. At that point I had already gone through 3 different types of drugs and was thinking I was going to be moving to another type soon. But that wasn't much hope as each type I tried would work for a few weeks and then I'd be back almost to where I started.

I was able to get together enough energy to read through the first step of TLC (dietary supplement) and make a trip to The Vitamin Shoppe. I started to take the recommended doses of the vitamins and noticed some slight changes in a couple of days. Within a week I was able to make it through the next few sections of the book. I started to notice rumative behavior and redirect it. I put a light box on order. I started doing some light exercise on the exercise bike (after clearing the dust). And I started to feel even better. I eventually made it through the rest of the book and started to record my depression symptoms according to the very helpful survey in the book. The first week I was in the 10-15 range (already a huge drop from where I estimated I was when first starting). The next week I was under 10. And this last week for the first time I can remember since I was in high school, I had ZERO symptoms of depression. This in spite of an extremely stressful week at work.

It's hard to put into words what coming out of depression feels like. All I know is that I feel right now in a way that I thought I'd never be able to again. ANY physician who treats depressed patients needs to be aware of this research. I know I will be making my doctor aware of it the next time I see him... and hopefully save someone else the length of suffering I went through.

"The Depression Cure" is not a pipe dream - this is the real deal.
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on May 27, 2011
I don't usually write reviews here, but I had to spread the word about what a great book this is. It has truly changed my life. I've always had intermittent bouts of moderate to severe depression, probably since I was 16 (I'm 27). Anti-depressants haven't worked for me. I've managed to get by in life, but I'm getting really tired of the constant up and down. Also, I want to have kids soon-ish, but I don't want to put my kids through my crazy. So...

Enter this book.

Dr. Ilardi recommends six lifestyle interventions: 1) big daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids, 2) cognitive tricks to stop rumination, 3) exercise, 4) light therapy, 5) social interaction, and 6) healthy sleep. The thing that makes this book so great (and worth buying even though I just revealed the six magic interventions) is that he breaks each one down into small steps that are very doable - even for someone suffering from I-can't-even-muster-the-thought-of-getting-out-of-bed depression. His regimen is 12 weeks long, and the first week, for instance, all you have to do is take some supplements. It builds from there, but very incrementally.

I should mention that while I'm holistically-inclined, I also have a good grasp on science and a research-based education and career, so I tend to be a little skeptical of "cure" type books. But I found this one to be scientifically sound, with an extensive list of references that you can look up if you want to go deeper into the literature.

Overall, I really can't recommend it highly enough. It is EASY to read, which is a must for someone whose brain is freaking out. I ordered the book, gave myself a week to read it and then started the regimen the next week. It has made huge difference already (I'm on week 4), and, most importantly, these are healthy changes that I can make for the rest of my life. I have great hope that these techniques will "even out" my moods in the long-term and really improve quality of life for my family and me. Dr. Ilardi, if you happen to see this, thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart!
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on June 13, 2009
Dr. Stephen Ilardi has written a highly accessible book that has something to offer everyone, not merely those who suffer from clinical depression. Without stooping to the charlatanism of New Age healers, Ilardi points out that mental and physical health are intimately connected, for reasons connected to our evolutionary heritage. He goes beyond the banal, vacuous advice of 'diet and exercise' to tell us with greater specificity what exactly in our diet (omega-3s), bodily environment (aerobic exercise, sleep) and and external environment (sunshine, close and frequent interpersonal contact) that we need to combat the epidemic of the blues.

The implications of his book are multitudinous and profound: among others, for the role of medication in national health care policy and our attempts to prevent depressive illness - if his work is taken seriously by those in government, the health care system could begin a much-needed movement toward wellness for all and prevention of disease, instead of merely rewarding pharmaceutical companies for campaign donations.

This is the rare book in the field that is useful, not merely for the clinically depressed, but also for those merely suffering from the 'normal blues', or even those just wishing to enhance the well-being of their lives. His TLC program can help just about everyone, and most of its elements are low-cost or free! I believe this book potentially could be prove to be a watershed moment in the very understanding of illness and the goals of medical treatment. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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on November 19, 2014
I've waited a full year to write this review (literally, I ordered the book 367 days ago!) This book was recommended to me by two extended family members struggling with mild to moderate depression. I had been fighting with SEVERE clinical depression; it robbed me of my life, of enjoying my husband and children. I sought medical, psychological, and psychiatric help for about two years... Several medications, dosage changes, doctors, therapists, etc... Nothing made a dent.
And then I read this book. And everything changed.
His 6 steps gave me something to focus on, other than "being sick." Just the change from seeing Life from a Wellness perspective rather than a Sickness perspective changed so much. Knowing the science behind depression, anxiety, and the brain really gave me reason to work on each step... Getting the kids schlepped to the gym with me, practicing light therapy, forcing myself to keep busy hands/mind by coloring in coloring books (you can even get nicer ones for adults, which help), reading novels, listening to audiobooks... Distracting from my illness, stopping my mind from racing and ruminating.
Fast forward a year. I have lost 40 pounds as a convenient side effect of the exercise (from a size 16 to a size 4), ran 2 half-marathons, and completely changed my life.
Depression is like alcoholism or cancer... Once you have it, you'll always have it to a certain extent, considering yourself "on the wagon" or "in remission". But I continue to take my vitamins/supplements and put in the work to make sure I never go back. I keep a list of the 6 steps taped inside my kitchen cupboard so, if I'm feeling a little off, I can check the list and say "ah, I'm not sleeping well. Time to get outside and soak in some sunlight to set my body clock."
Buy this book. Never, in a million years, did I think I could climb out of the hole Depression had buried me in. I was drowning. I PROMISE this book will work if you just read about the steps and start following them. FORCE yourself to get out of bed and do the work EVERY DAY. No matter what. YOU ARE WORTH THE EFFORT.
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on December 9, 2010
Thank you for this book. I went from a daily "F" grade to a daily "A". If I were wealthy I would have a website where people could get this book for free. It changed my life.
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on July 21, 2014
Excellent book.
I have been depressed most of my life and on antidepressants for the past 12 years. Earlier this year, some longstanding physical symptoms for which no cause was found started to get worse, fatigue, abdominal pain and bloating and neuropathy. Finally my doctor screened me for celiac disease and some of the labs came back positive, I had my biopsy and they found inflammation and some features of celiac disease however since my villi were intact, I didn't get a celiac diagnosis, they did tell me to stop eating gluten for a few months to see if that helped my symptoms.

Holy cow, all of these physical and mental symptoms that I was told were related to depression or stomach ulcers started to go away and months later were almost gone. During my time on antidepressants, I was frequently told by my doctors that people that are depressed will need to stay on medication forever which always sounded so hopeless. Since 75% of my depression was gone after the diet change, I regained some confidence that there were things I could do besides taking a pill to treat my depression. After working through this book, I am now off medication and am feeling pretty good overall and sometimes I feel downright joyful which is a pretty stark contrast from most of my life . I mention the details of my physical symptoms because I don't believe Dr. Illardi mentions celiac disease or gluten sensitivity as a possible contributing factor to depression (though I may have missed it) but he does mention that sometimes depression can be caused by physical symptoms and it is important to be evaluated for a medical cause of depression. The thing is most doctors don't screen for celiac/gluten sensitivity because they mistakenly believe celiac disease is rare and so it makes sense then that most people aren't diagnosed. I think most doctors think gluten sensitivity is a fad and not valid and I will admit I am guilty of thinking this myself until cutting out gluten was the only option and I saw the dramatic change in me. If you have GI problems as well as depression, it would be worthwhile to ask your doctor to be screened for celiac disease.

Back to the book. The depression that I still had was successfully treated with the strategies in this book. For me, taking an omega 3 with 1gm of EPA and stopping rumination seemed to have the most impact on my depression.
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Diagnosable clinical depression isn’t equally distributed worldwide; Americans and other industrialized nation citizens suffer far higher rates than poorer nations. University of Kansas psychologist Stephen Ilardi and his research team discovered that modern life has cultivated certain behaviors that crush people’s psyches. But for most people, antidepressant medications don’t work any better than Doctor Time.

Human beings, Dr. Ilardi writes, aren’t adapted to modern life’s sedentary, indoor conditions. Though we believe we’ve conquered nature’s limitations with our technology and social sciences, our bodies and brains remain optimized for hunter-gatherer conditions. So Ilardi began research into what he calls Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC), a permanent, lasting cure for clinical depression involving six uncomplicated steps:

1. Supplementing dietary levels of Omega-3 fatty acids
2. Engaging in meaningful activity
3. Getting sufficient physical exercise
4. Getting sufficient sunlight
5. Spending time around people we like and engage with
6. Getting enough sleep

Really, that’s it. Well, it’s actually more complicated, with specific recommendations to not only improve our living conditions, but also to proactively prevent depression from recurring, or from hitting in the first place. This is important, because depression has a higher relapse rate than virtually any physical ailment. Yet by following a lifestyle of healthy, balanced choices, we an control our vulnerability to this debilitating illness.

Dr. Ilardi strikes a satisfying balance between solid science and practical suggestions. Too many First World citizens work seated, spend spare time alone, and eat lopsided diets. The luxuries we enjoy, which our ancestors never envisioned, have made us less happy, less healthy, and less properly disposed to handle life’s little setbacks and disappointments.But neither, he writes, can we chuck everything and hunt wildebeest on the Serengeti.

Thankfully we don’t have to. Ilardi’s TLC program requires a modest investment of effort and time, often less than one hour daily, to recapture the wild conditions for which we’re still perfectly adapted. One needn’t spend hours at the gym for sufficient exercise; a brisk thirty-minute walk three times weekly can get our hearts moving robustly. And those stresses keeping you from sleeping? They’ll feel more manageable if you’ve gotten your eight hours.

Some suggestions seem obvious once Ilardi says them aloud. It only makes sense that we suffer depressed mood and stunted brain function when we spend time on meaningless activities, or when we’re chronically lonely. As Ilardi notes, the only population group that hasn’t seen massive increases in diagnosable depression in the last hundred years is the Amish, a population who works together, mostly outdoors.

Other suggestions require more explanation, which Ilardi helpfully provides. We’ve become so accustomed to considering fats just bad that, when he says we need more Omega-3, many readers, including me, may feel baffled. Yet Ilardi explains, not only what Omega-3 fatty acids are, and why we need them more than the common Omega-6 variety, but also what a balanced diet means in terms of human evolutionary imperatives.

Ilardi also discusses the importance of motivation for any meaningful change. Exercise in particular will require some incentive, because humans are attuned to avoid unnecessary, inefficient effort. But if we roll things together—exercise as opportunity to spend time with friends, for instance, or discovering a hobby that involves deep muscular effort—we can extract maximum benefits from separate, individual activities.

This isn’t some mere list of pointers, moreover. After walking us through his six steps, including explaining how and why each works, Ilardi provides a graduated twelve-week approach to incorporating his TLC into regular life. This includes not only adding his six steps, but also documenting your symptoms according to an objective scale, and keeping good records. You and your doctor should find his measurement scale very helpful.

Dr. Ilardi stresses, early on, that nobody should undertake any lifestyle change, even his, without consulting a doctor first. Depression can stem from physical ailments, which your doctor should exclude first; and rapid lifestyle changes, like aerobic exercise and dietary supplements, carry risks which you and your doctor can minimize. So don’t just grab Ilardi’s book and run. And certainly don’t base lifestyle changes on one 750-word book review.

Though Dr. Ilardi talks up TLC for clinical depression, he stresses that this isn’t only for people with mood disorders. His techniques improve general health, including heart health, and also improve general mutual accountability. His steps are straightforward, manageable, and fun. Since half of all Americans will face major mood disorders, and TLC can prevent as well as cure, this approach is truly for everyone.
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on October 3, 2009
One of the best books on depression!
I have been looking for a book that will provide easy and realistic non-drug alternatives for treating depression for quite some time, and finally it's here!
Dr. Ilardi provides complete set of tools to deal with depression that ANYONE can use.
The book is very easy to read, and allowed me to learn about various causes of depression without feeling like I am back in my anatomy class. I could not put the book down and finished reading it in 2 days..
I liked that the book provides different option depending on the person's individual situation (sleep patterns, diet...etc), and provides FAQ section that deals with the most common problems/questions patients typically have.
I have started my TLC program 3 days ago, and already feel some noticeable improvement, but I will report back in a couple of weeks when the "evidence is more conclusive"-)
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on March 1, 2011
I got this book for my husband, and he has been following the program for about 4 weeks.

He has had a total turn around in his depression... Whereas before he felt overwhelmed and unfocused, he is now happy and excited; engaged and proactive about his life.

I recommend this book to EVERYONE. In 4 weeks of light box use and supplements - with increased exercise and socializing - he's gone from a 30 on the depression scale to a 10.
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on June 18, 2011
I had high hopes for this book after hearing Dr Ilardi on the radio.

So I went straight out and bought it. And I've given it a really good go. But you know what, it just doesn't make any difference to me. I'm still as depressed as I was at the start.

I have (over a 9 month period) done a lot of exercise, eaten really well, slept as much as I can, taken the supplements, used a light box, increased my social activities and tried to stop thinking negative thoughts. This is all very time consuming and non trivial. Especially when there are no positive results that come from all of this.

I have several criticisms of the book. Firstly for those of us living in different countries, we just can't get the supplements and light boxes suggested in the book. Try getting Amazon to ship a light box overseas.

So I've had to buy different brands. I did get a light box which is supposed to be a good one. And with the supplements, the ones that are the best I could find in the quantities nearest those prescribed.

The second thing I'd say is that if anyone can sleep well, eat well, get lots of exercise, have meaningful work and social lives and not sit around thinking depressive thoughts, well they wouldn't be depressed would they? So it's a vicious circle. In fact the whole theory put forward by this book is circuitous. If you are in fact depressed, then you probably can't follow this plan. And if you can (or already are doing these things) then you aren't depressed.

The third area I'd like to address is the fact that the book states it only works for 80% of patients. That is a good number and I'm truly glad for those whom this book helps. 80% is a hell of a lot better than nothing. But it leaves those of us in the other 20% feeling that much more hopeless. We've tried this and gee whiz, whaddya know? It doesn't work. Just another 'cure' that fails.

When Dr Iladi was on the radio, he expressed discomfort at the title of the book. This was really the publishers idea. I guess a book called "The Depression Cure" will sell better than a book entitled "The Depression Helper" or "The Depression Cure for Some People". But at the end of the day he's accepted the title and so

Lastly I'd like to address the trouble shooting section. This basically says there could be many things that are causing the depression to continue. And then there are the other things like having a TLC coach, doing even more exercise and taking even more Omega 3, even more Vitamin D and on and on and on. And at this point I basically gave up.

Two of the extra things to try to avoid are stress and sugar. Well thanks for that, wow, how many people living in a westernised society today have little or no stress? Try running a business through the GFC and raising young kids and not having stress!

And cutting out sugar? And things like bread and crackers that quickly break down into sugars? Man. Again, very hard to do in a westernised society when sugar is in many many foods including bread, meat, virtually all snacks, sauces, mayonnaises, beverages and so on. Try going out for dinner and consuming no sugar. Not easy.

So all in all, this book makes some very big 'asks' of it's readership. And I think while anyone can do some of these things, many people who are depressed would struggle to do all 6 of them. And almost none would manage the last 2 (stress and sugar reduction).

So if you haven't tried it, this book is definitely worth a go. It might work. But it's definitely not a 100% cure.
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