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on 10 June 2004
As a working hypnotherapist I was thrilled to see such a congruent explanation of the relationships between the cognative and emotional minds and the 'mind of the heart'.
Our efforts as humans to live a happy and healthy life depend on our ability to balance the above and when we fail in this we suffer our pain and illness.
What sheer delight to read on and discover that this balance can be easily achieved by following the seven healing techniques which have been practiced and clinically trialed and proven by the author and his collegues. I was able to discover and heal a long standing emotional wound from my early childhood and free myself of the defensive behavior I used to hide it. If you are suffering emotional, physical or spiritual disfunction, buy, read and do this work!
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on 21 January 2012
I found this book absolutely fascinating. Having suffered from depression and anxiety for years, and read countless self-help books, this book was refreshingly different.
I have never taken anti-depressants, however, I have seen three different therapists, a cognitive behaviour therapist and a hypnotherapist; all with limited results. When I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to find out what the next method was. Reading this book has given so much hope, that the future can be different and I don't have to go down the antidepressants or therapy route to free myself from depression.
The book basically covers 7 tried and tested methods that the author has researched during his career as Professor of Psychiatry. Interestingly he worked for nine years in various war zones to help people overcome mental trauma, giving him an interesting perspective from which to share his knowledge. The 7 approaches covered in the book are:

1. Meditation - he calls is heart coherence
2. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
3. Gradually Waking Up Using a Light Box - the Energy of Light
4. Acupuncture
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
6. Exercise
7. Social Interaction - Emotional Communication

The last chapter outlines how to Get Started and create your own plan to heal yourself using the methods in the book. I found this section very helpful indeed, as it pulled together all the information in the book and enabled me to focus on how to put it into practice. Although, the Resources section at the back of the book seemed like a good idea, some of the references were out of date (my copy was printed in 2004) or pointed to expensive services for businesses rather than for individuals, so you'd be better off just doing an internet search.

I started immediately on the Omega-3 supplements and the meditation. And I am now focussing on exercising for 20 minutes every day. I also ensure I have some good quality social interaction every day. I may try acupuncture in the future and the light box too. The only method, which seemed inaccessible, is the EMDR, since there are only a few practitioners in this country; also it does involve bringing up upsetting memories from the past, which I can't say I'm keen on.

My only criticism about the book is that although compelling to read, it is not succinct. What I really wanted was a list of the methods and how I could apply them. Often, you have to read a few chapters to get this information. Hopefully, with the list above, at least you know what the methods are before you start reading.

So, overall, an excellent book. I particularly like the detail, which the author goes into about each method. For example, he tells you exactly how much Omega-3 to take and the exact amount of daily exercise to take ... there is nothing vague about his research or the reasons for using his methods.
This is definitely one of the most groundbreaking self-help books I've read in years. I would recommend it to anyone who has suffered from recurrent bouts of depression or anxiety.
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on 12 November 2004
So many of the books that attempt to deal with depression and anxiety promise so much and deliver nothing more than verbose and vague suggestions that simply don't work.
This book succeeds where many many others fail. The author has brought together in one place a simple and accessible explanation of the latest therapies and treatments for depression that are not based on the current sacred cows of drugs we don't entirely understand and talking therapies that don't appear to have ever cured a single patient.
He looks at such developments such as EMDR and Heart Coherence and how diet and lifestyle can be altered to significantly improve ones mental state. Most imporatantly he lists contact details for organisations that practice these methods.
Revolutionary!
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on 20 March 2006
As someone who was an indirect victim of depression, I have since read quite widely on topics related to all aspects of depression, anxiety and how best to combat them. This book offers information on several techniques which could potentially help combat the "drug 'em up and ship 'em out again" attitude that seems to be so prevalent nowadays, especially among US doctors.
As a medical student, I think this book is excellent in the way it offers alternative suggestions to medication however I would have appreciated more detail into the explanations of how the alternatives work. (I suppose that's what the list of references is for though).
The book is filled with real life cases from the authors practice which are used to get points across. These may make the book more accessible to the lay reader but in my opinion, only take up space which could be used in explaining topics in more detail. That's my only issue with an otherwise excellent book.
Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the health of the mind.
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VINE VOICEon 14 October 2004
I was a bit sceptical when I bought this book, thinking it was yet another book with an anti - prozac view and no real advice. But I was really wrong. It is a great book, with advice and help that is invaluable to those suffering from depression.I did find the first two chapters a bit boring, and a bit "new age" but the rest is FANTASTIC.The books tone is upbeat and does not suffer from the " poor me " and over sensitive way that some depression books can. Instead the author approaches everything in an easily understood medical approach but also very humanised
The author suggests several different theories/ ideas that will not only help you cope with depression but also life in general. Ideas that you will probably find you will continue to use and will help improve the quality of your life. It is a great book that will definately get you thinking, hoping and making changes.This opens your eyes, mind and heart to different ideas.It is a book that will DEFINATELY make a differance.
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on 1 January 2010
So many self help books promise so much but ultimately fail to deliver. This is not one of them. Dr David Servan-Shreiber is a psychiatrist with many years of diverse practise under his belt. Instead of becoming enveloped in the antiquated thinking that has hindered psychiatry for years, Servan-Shreiber has combined his experiences in psychiatry with his background as a neuroscientist and a willingness to look elsewhere for answers. It's refreshing to have a psychiatrist that will try to understand the root cause of ones problem before reaching for the prescription pad.

In this book we are introduced to seven alternative methods for fighting stress, anxiety and depression, some have been around since the coming of man, some are cutting edge. Heart coherence is explained as a method of managing stress, with the heart acting as a sort of bridge to our emotional well being. EMDR has been used in the treatment of PTSD and is proving to be quite successful also in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. Light therapy is explored and the positives are there for all to see. Acupunture and it's direct effect on the emotional brain are also explored. The nutrition revolution and in particular the benefits of taking Omega-3 fatty acids are explained. Exercise goes hand in hand with nutrition and this book is no different in that regard. Finally love is the key, both loving yourself and finding a strong emotional connection with another person can be quite a powerful thing.

There is great benefit to be derived from this book, putting it's findings into practise is the key. A psychiatrist willing to embrace alternative methods of therapy is a rarity and although medication has a place I believe it should be part of the treatment. Maybe we as a society should try to take a leaf out of Servan-Shreiber's book and insist on a more holistic approach to mental health issues.
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on 14 April 2008
This is a brilliant book. The balance of advice is excellent, from medical to common sense to alternative therapies, this man has a really sound outlook on life. It's not just psychological advice either ~ the chapters about doing voluntary work, exercise and nutrition are very helpful too and are important factors often forgotten by people looking for more complicated answers.
It confirmed some ideas I'd read elsewhere and gave me new ideas also.
If you're wavering about whether to buy this book or not, don't hesitate, buy it! It's well worth the money and time to invest in your wellbeing and life.
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on 16 September 2012
I have suffered from depression for several years and was diagnosed with it this year following a visit to the GP which was a last resort for me as I've always wanted to avoid medication. I was put on anti-depressants for two weeks and then taken off them as apparently my depression had improved. (It was nothing to do with the drugs; I just had a lot of positive things happening in my life at that time.)

The medication did nothing for me except give me vivid dreams and the unpleasant side effect of having pins and needles in one hand constantly. I've heard that it takes longer than two weeks to appreciate the benefits of medication but my two week stint confirmed that I did not want to rely on drugs to make me feel better.

I purchased this book as the title 'Healing without Freud or Prozac' appealed to me greatly. I've never tried counselling or psychoanalysis so I can't vouch for their effectiveness but I was intrigued to learn about other methods of battling depression and anxiety without resorting to medication.

The methods for battling depression which the book covers include Heart coherence, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR); Light therapy (dawn simulation); Nutrition (Omega 3); Acupuncture; Exercise; Love (as a biological need) and being connected.

I had already heard of some of the methods such as Exercise and Omega 3 but I had never heard of dawn simulation or EMDR before and I didn't realise that Acupuncture could be used as a treatment for depression and all three of those are methods I am interested in trying, having read the book. Whilst I had heard of Acupuncture before, I didn't know a lot about it so that chapter was really interesting as were all the chapters.

I have read a lot of self-help books over the years and a common disappointment I have is that I will find a book which sounds really interesting with excellent potentially life-changing advice and then when I buy it and read it, it's just a major let down. Whilst it might have some interesting anecdotes and theories, I'm always left wondering 'How can I apply this to my life?' or 'How can I use this information to achieve tangible results in my life?'

This book does not fall short as the last chapter entitled 'Getting Started' is exactly that, a guide to get you started on using the methods disclosed within the book.

In addition to the aforementioned methods, there are two excellent chapters on communication with two mnemonics that I intend memorise straight away as they are so useful, particularly in my job as an advisor where I am dealing with people on a daily basis. One is for handling conflict and the other is related to listening. The listening one is excellent and I can identify the benefits of it straight away from my own experience as an advisor. Those two chapters alone are worth the price of the book.

On one final note, I have already tried exercise and I have exercised regularly for years and it does help to improve my mood a lot so I can personally vouch for that method. After I ran my first marathon, one of my friends was inspired to take up running and after he did, he no longer needed his anti-depressants as it lifted his mood so much. It's a great way to relieve stress and it makes you feel better physically and mentally. If you're overweight, losing weight will boost your confidence and self-esteem ten-fold.
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on 4 September 2011
BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN

DOCTOR DAVID SERVAN-SCHREIBER IS A RARE DOCTOR, VERY HUMAN AND HUMANE... CLOSE TO HIS PATIENTS...
I AM A PSYCHOLOGIST AND WISH THE NATIONAL HEALTH SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE WOULD ALLOW US TO WORK MORE CLOSELY WITH SUCH OVERWHELMINGLY WISE PSYCHIATRISTS WHO UNDERSTAND THAT THE HUMAN MIND HAS ABOVE ALL A UNIQUE "SOUL" AND SINGULAR FEELINGS THAT CANNOT BE GENERALIZED AND BE TREATED ONLY WITH PSYCHOTHROPIC DRUGS. FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS MATTER. DRUGS HELP AS MUCH AS "CRUTCHES" BUT TREATING ONE'S INNERMOST FEELINGS, PAINFUL EMOTIONS AND TRAUMATIC PAST EXPERIENCES NEED TO BE UNDERSTOOD AND DEALT WITH BOTH IN NEUROLOGICAL TERMS, INVOLVING THE NEO-CORTEX AND THE LIMBIC BRAIN IN CONNECTION WITH ONE'S PSYCHIC APPARATUS...

WHAT A PITY DR SCHREIBER HAS HAD SUCH AN UNTIMELY DEATH BUT HIS LEGACY IS HERE TO STAY.
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on 29 June 2005
Written by an author with serious scientific credentials, a selection of 7 alternative options for dealing with depression are presented - alongside the mainstream scientific evidence which actually backs up their effectiveness. Very readable. Should be compulsory reading for GPs and psychiatrists so they might pause before writing out that prescription.
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