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The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs Paperback – June 1, 2010
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“[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.”
“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.”
“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.”
"Dr. Ilardi reminds us that our bodies shouldn't be sleep-deprived, or subjected to poor diets and frenzied twenty-first-century life...The book describes an easy-to-follow, clinically proven program that follows a clear system to what our bodies need."
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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.
The book is divided into sections discussing each of the 6 steps to get your life back on track. It goes on to explain how these things help. Some are common sense like exercise, others are less well known like getting the right nutrients by supplementing with Omega 3s. While all 6 of these steps are vital to recovery, it does not mean your depression will go away without a HUGE effort on your part to get out and make it happen (you can do it!). Things like 'engaging in social activity' is especially difficult for me for instance because friends have never come easy in my life, most of my best friends have moved out of state and reconnecting with those still here is hard because they have found their own groups to be with and changed so much. It's frustrating to read things like socialize when you have nobody around to socialize with. Another cause is poor sunlight and proper sleep, which I realize because I work 3rd shift is a challenge over what the average person may face. Of course this reconfirms what I already know, that lifestyle change is the only way to get rid of these demons. "You can not discover new oceans until you lose sight of the shore" The book gives a great recommendation for this that I'd never heard about, buying a light box. I am absolutely going to do this once I save the money, it is probably some of the better advice I've gotten from this book and I hope it works as well as reviews have said it does.
Prehaps the hardest step to do (and the most damaging) is to stop dwelling on negative thoughts (ruminating) and while the book offers some solid suggestions like preoccupying your mind with music or tv, it doesn't stop the thoughts when a distraction is unavailable. This thinking can, depending on how its taken, lead to addictive behavior. I notice I play video games for hours not because I actually enjoy them so anymore, but only because when I stop, reality hits and it becomes difficult to deal with my thoughts again. My job is the biggest killer because as great of a job as it maybe, I spend lots of time letting my mind race and thinking 10+ hrs a night on repeat. Even the radio can't always shut them out. Goes back to my point about changing your lifestyle. I think the author should have mentioned the importance of a (healthy) hobby, and maybe he did (to be honest I've done alot of skipping around and haven't read probably more than 70% of the book at this point). I found art (pen ink and prismacolor pencils) to be what works for me along with playing an instrument on my nights off. Art is a way to express my emotions in pictures, and it brings me back to being a kid when my dream (that never happened) was to be a great artist. Rediscovering old dreams and never giving up on them is very important, and just because I feel too old or inexperienced to go to art school, does not mean that I'm not trying to reaquire the dreams I've lost over the past 10 years on my own terms. The past is the past but it's how we handle our failures and what we do with the present that makes the real difference.
Of course the author does not have all of the answers, nobody does, but just be aware that your battle will need to take creativity and mind control of your own to turn things around. These steps only help you identify what the root of the problem is, it is not a fix all.
I'd like to add a personal note, something I found was really hurting me that you may want to try and that is coffee!! Coffee was not mentioned in here and you may or may not be aware how addictive coffee is and that it is to some people a very powerful drug (a stimulant) that can lift you up and when you come down it can have tremendously damaging effects on your emotional wellbeing especially if you are prone to depression. Ever since I got an espresso machine I have been in love with coffee (espresso). I've since found out that coffee weakens the production of GABA, an amino acid created by a certain strain of intestinal bacteria and used by the brain as a neurotransmitter. GABA is essential to relaxing, helps aid in sleep, relax from stress, manage anxiety, lower cortisone levels (cortisone is a stress horomone and breeds cancer!!) etc. SO I've stopped drinking coffee, difficult but I've walked away from harder things in my life. Started taking a GABA supplement and I feel like it has helped me significantly. I'm not a doctor or giving medical advice, but do your own research especially on holistic medicine and nutrition and I think you will eventually find the tools you need to fix these problems.
I think this is a great book and that's coming from somebody with a very short attention span (I can't even watch movies let alone read a book). But this has captured my attention which is absolutely amazing, 70% it's probably the most I've read off the internet since high school. It is well written easy to understand and includes an interesting history on why tribal cultures and our ancestors were more well off mentally. Anybody who follows these 6 steps religiously may not find themself completely out of the hole but I believe they will definately get on the right track and feel at least like their problems are manageable. Remember, things good and bad happen for a reason. If I never fell into this myself I would not be writing this review. I hope this helps atleast 1 person! Good luck everyone, hope everyone finds their cure and is better able to focus on their life purpose :D
I'm giving only four stars because some of the information seems a bit dated (for example, he recommends acquiring a heart rate monitor without mention of how modern wrist band exercise monitors could fill this need) and I was left wanting a bit more guidance on how to manage rumination, which is an area I struggle in particular (I've found meditation is a helpful tool, but it's not mentioned).