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The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs Hardcover – June 2, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 301 customer reviews

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Hardcover, June 2, 2009
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Editorial Reviews


Harriet Lerner, author of The Dance of Anger
“This book isn’t just about depression. Dr. Ilardi’s program can help all of us live with more zest and a greater sense of well-being.”

Bookslut Founder Jessa Crispin in The Smart Set 
“Those who have suffered recurring, meaningless bouts of depression might want to reach for The Depression Cure rather than Unstuck, especially those sick of hearing how they should search their mental illness for wisdom.”

“The Bookworm Sez” (nationally syndicated column)
“Intriguing. Author Stephen S. Ilardi seems to be onto something when he points out that our ancestors didn’t sit at a desk all day and fight traffic to go home stressed-out…Pick up a copy of The Depression Cure. With your doctor’s blessing, a fair amount of effort, and this book, ‘snapping out of it’ might be a snap.”

“[Ilardi’s] program helps patients reclaim six ancient lifestyle elements that can improve or eradicate depression. These include a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the critical building blocks for brain structure and function; enjoyable activities that keep us from dwelling on negative thoughts; exercise that stimulates important brain chemicals; sufficient sunlight exposure to keep the body’s clock in sync; social support to avoid isolation; and healthy sleep habits that allow the brain and body to recover. It works for me and it will work for you!”

Metapsychology Online Reviews 

“A very good self-help book. Ilardi writes clearly, avoiding jargon, and speaking eloquently about many topics. His depiction of negative lifestyle influences on people's emotions and actions are on target… this is a splendid book because the recommendations made should lead to a healthier lifestyle for most people…Overcoming depression is not a simple challenge but one, I suspect, has a chance of success by reading this book.”

Kansas Alumni
“Ilardi’s theory draws on discoveries in cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, which add heft to his common-sense advice…The Depression Cure arrays data that may inspire action.”

Day Spa Magazine
“Has a number of physical tips for staving off the mental wear and tear.”

Midwest Book Review 
“A realistic, fine guide, this is a recommendation for any general lending or health library.”

“As a supplement to professional help, you might pick up this book. Ilardi offers a common-sense approach.”

Library Journal
“Practical, straightforward, grounded in persuasive research, this book is recommended for anyone seeking an alternative approach to treating depression.”


“A comprehensive book.”

Science Writers
“Ilardi’s book prescribes an easy-to-follow, clinically proven program that harks back to what our bodies were originally made for—and need.”


“[Ilardi’s] six steps…are crucial to a recovery program from depression.”

Tucson Citizen
“In addition to practical advice, this book contains success stories of his patients, tips on measuring progress and suggestions for overcoming roadblocks.”
The Guardian (UK), 7/19/10
“As a respected clinical psychologist and university professor, Ilardi’s views are hard to dismiss.”

About the Author

Stephen S. Ilardi, PhD, is associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Kansas and the author of over 40 professional articles on mental illness. Through his active clinical practice, Dr. Ilardi has treated several hundred depressed patients. He lives with his family in Lawrence, Kansas.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books; 1 edition (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738213136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738213132
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (301 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. Stevens on December 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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