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on 24 April 2015
I have had a couple of outbreaks of mild depression over the last couple of years. Mild in the sense that I was able to carry on working and going about my daily life, although it was a struggle and my work performance was not good, while my involvement and interest in life was low.

The first time, I took Prozac and after a few weeks of it making me feel worse, it started working. The second time, I decided I wanted to try a other things first.

I read both this book and The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. Dr Illardi's book is somewhat more grounded in mainstream science and medicine, while Julia Ross has you taking a ton of supplements and is probably more in the alternative nutrition camp (not necessarily a bad thing).

Anyway, back to this book. Its basic recommendations are

1) High doses of omega 3 fat from fish oil supplements (6 capsules a day for me).

I am not a Dr but I have found some scientific evidence to back this up. From my own experience, I would say this has helped but for about 6 weeks caused me to wake feeling energised and sometimes anxious in the middle of the night. Not ideal but I stuck with it and this has now stopped and my sleep is normal again (still taking the fish oil).

I have done some reading and this seems to be a side effect of fish oil for a few people, but most people have no problems.

The book also recommends Vitamin C and a few other supplements but nothing too outrageous. I will add my own tentative suggestion which is that you also consider taking 5 HTP(5-hydroytryptophan), which raises your serotonin levels. Available in health food shops in the UK. It helps me.
HOWEVER: I have read negative reviews of it from some people so exercise caution in this area and do your own research to support your own decision, consulting your doctor if in doubt. 5 HTP isnt in the book I just mention it in passing as it has helped me.

2) Learn to recgnise when you are dwelling on thoughts (rumination) and try and divert your attention to an engaging activity instead.

"Easier said than done" will be many peoples reaction to this part, but rumination is a key symptom of and sustainer of depression, so it makes sense to try. To be honest, I was already working on this by practising mindfuless meditation, so it isnt something new to me, but its still hard.

The books recommendations in this area are good but hard to always follow. Mindfulness meditation will be a useful additional thing to try for some people, and I recommend "Get some Headspace" by Andy Puddicombe as a starting point.

3) Get more exercise, specifically at least 3 30 minute sessions a week

My most recent bout of depression came on after a neck injury when I was unable to follow my usual exercise regime and I dont believe this is a coincidence. I find exercise certainly helps me and would encourage anyone to try it, even if its just brisk walking. Exercise doesnt have to mean weightlifting or running a marathon if that isnt your thing. The book explains the science and goves real-life case studies.

4) Get more sunlight

Exposure to sunlight helps depression. I agree and so will many SAD sufferers. In our climate however, sometimes you need some help and this is where a suitable lightbox or SAD lamp comes in. The book goes into the details.

5) Interact with people more

Bottom line: we are social animals and not meant to sit in a dimly lit office for hours on end with little human interaction. Find a way to meet new people, renew old friendships and focus on the ones you have. This is probably the hardest thing to change for me. I am a loner and have a few important friendships but am not a great socialiser. For me change here is hard, but I understand the reasoning that it helps depression. I am lucky enough to have a family so I am trying to learn to appreciate time with them and involve myself more in family activities.

6) Cut out or drastically reduce caffeine and sugar.

Good idea. I love coffee but it makes me feel worse so I dont use it much. I have the odd sugary treat but again, not much.

Not in the book but my own recommendation would be to change to wholemeal bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta. Refined carbohydrates like white bread basically turn into sugar as soon as they hit your digestive system and give you peaks and troughs of energy which dont help low mood.

Overall the book makes good suggestions routed in sound science and common sense. I would recommend it to anyone suffering from depression who has found anti-depressants dont work or doesnt want to go down that route. It wont make you better overnight but my feeling is that applying these ideas for a couple of months will help many sufferers, but maybe not all.

I have a family member who has been on Seroxat for 10 years + and will probably never some off it, so I welcome the idea of self-managed, drug free recovery from this illness.

Good luck to everyone with their battle - this book has been a good tool for me but it isnt a quick fix.
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on 9 December 2010
I would like to say first of all that the authors description of what depression actually is and what it is like to be a genuine sufferer is by far and a way the best I have ever read. I actually felt for the first time ever that somebody had put into words exactly what my life has been like for over twenty years. That alone is worth buying the book for, just to hear it so well explained. I have to congratulate him and thank him for that.
I will be giving it to close friends and family who have struggled over the years to understand, as I feel they will gain much insight from just a few pages.

I had through my own searching and desire for help and relief come across much of what the book contains, however i had not fully understood or appreciated the far reaching impact or relief possible by combining the several elements explained in the book over a period of time.

Everything is explained well and in plain english, giving clinical trail evidence and support for its inclusion. this is not padded Opera fluff. this is evidence based clinically trailed and proven techniques, supplements and devices, combined to provide what I believe to be the best opportunity for lasting relief from clinical depression.

I have read so many books on this subject, none has so sparked my interest or desire to apply the counsel given. This book actually makes you want to take action.

I have suffered with a life threatening debilitating soul destroying condition for most of my adult life. almost nobody has even noticed.

so many people out there I now know, feel the exact same way. I have tried my very best to over come this beast many times, this time I genuinely feel I may have been handed a tool thats up to the Job.

I hope this helps.
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on 13 April 2016
Four stars for being a good book that has a grounded, re-assuring feel to it. Neither a rant against society, medicine or sufferers themselves, nor a promo for perhaps boring and perhaps frightening establishment treatments (which I feel treat statistics better than the unwell).
Dr Ilardi is a concerned and dedicated professional looking for success in helping people with depression to get well. He has interesting things to say on many aspects of the illness and on treatment approaches. The core of the book is his six step plan, which may well work and is helpful even when not followed as fully as he advises (I say this bearing in mind my own appreciation for simple reassurance).
I read books by Dorothy Rowe and a Dr Preston and ones from the 'Overcoming...' series, and Wolpert's rather depressing account of his depression, years ago and despite finding Preston's (rather expensive) book helpful, chiefly because it was a nice thin volume accessible when in a bad way (unlike the others), really I got put off self help.
This book by Dr Ilardi has been a breath of fresh air. I think it is worth a read and I think the nice practical ideas are good.

Ilardi is wary of drug treatments in the mild to moderately depressed but says they are very helpful in severe cases.

If one is on drug treatment and they feel it might not be appropriate then they should talk to their doctor and take guidance in reducing or stopping medication. This is typical and sound advice and I know from sad experience that antidepressants do work, even if they don't always work well enough, and stopping when you feel well again without supervision can lead to a return of symptoms. This is not to say that the drugs simply mask the symptoms but rather that the condition can be helped in various ways and has various interlinked causal elements.

During a bad period over Christmas I found that, along with this book, Sunbathing in the Rain by Gwyneth Lewis was a comfort in desolate states and it reminded me that alcohol is a common one of those causal factors for some of us.
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on 3 January 2017
Easy to follow, research-based steps to beat depression. Recommended reading from a friend who has tried many things to cure depression and said this was one of the best books he has read about this illness. I do have one very big question, which is not answered in the book, or any of the videos I have found by Dr Ilardi. If any reader has the answer, I would be most grateful. The question is, how long should the supplements be taken for? Especially the Omega Oils. The book explains what dosis and what to do during an episode of depression, but there is no info about when to stop and how to do it, or long term use as a preventative measure. I have emailed Dr Ilardi to try to get an answer, as he makes his email address easily available online, but there has been no response. If I hear from him, I would come back to this review and updated. In the mean time, if anyone has any knowledge they can share, or pointers towards scientific literature, I would be most grateful.

p.s. please do not let me question prevent you from buying this book. It is still the best resource I have found to treat depression and highly recommend it.
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on 17 September 2013
Having suffered depression for over two years now I was battling along with the usual meds Olanzapine Mirtazapine and Prozac. Every day was an uphill struggle. I looked on the internet searching for help in vain, until I found this book. My concentration was very poor very low mood. I followed the advice about omega 3 fish oil capsules. Bought two months supply from Holland and Barrett for around £25. I swear after 5 days of taking 3 capsules a day I feel fantastic. My concentration is great I feel I'm starting to live again. This is even before I've tried exercising walking etc. I can't reccomend this book highly enough. Worth every penny if you suffer from depression
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on 11 August 2015
I don't normally write reviews but I feel compelled to write one for this book. I have been chronically depressed for the last few months. Barely existing. Sleeping too much and disconnecting from my friends and having no interest in doing anything. I wondered each morning how I would get tru another day let alone my life. I was in the airport a couple of weeks ago and I was looking for a book on toddler management and I just happened to see this book on the shelf. I took a look at it and put it back and then on a whim I just bought it. As I was really considering going to the doc for anti depressants but I knew in my heart they wouldn't do me any good. Anyone I've taken on each of his six steps. The big one for me was rumination, but I'm also taking the omega three, I've got a SAD light and I've taken up running. It's been a productive couple of weeks but I can honestly say I've found myself again. My mother said to me today that I look like my own self. If u have been down or are feeling depressed I really recommend this book. It has do a wonders for me. I'm so thankful that I found it. It ha saved my life.
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on 3 February 2011
If you suffer from depression and want a simple, effective and well researched way to help lift your depression, then I would highly recommend this book to you.

My situation is as follows: I have suffered from depression for over 10 years. Part of the reason I have suffered for so long is that until fairly recently I didn't realise my problem was depression, and the other reason is that I hadn't found very effective help for depression. Once I realised I had depression, I tried to help myself by going on anti-depressants and doing other things like exercise which I had heard were good for depression. Those things helped a bit, but I was still essentially depressed. After having found this book and used it's principles for about 6 months, I am not completely depression free, but I am off anti-depressants and feel good enough to not feel the need to go back on anti-depressants. I also feel confident that I will continue to improve.

One thing to note, although this book is sightly anti-drugs, I used the principles while still on anti-depressants, and it is perfectly complementary. I found I felt much better while taking drugs AND using the book's advice, and then reached a point where I felt I could cope without the drugs, and so far so good. I would disagree with the book in that anti-depressants are basically useless for moderately depressed people, but I would agree that they are useless for a permanent long term cure for any depressed person (but that's just my own experience).

That said this book is very well written and very effective. It is well written in that is sympathetic, positive and inspiring, and easy to read. I can say that it is effective for 5 reasons:

1) I have used it and I have felt the results.

2) Each of the 6 aspects of the depression cure are based on extensive research about what really improves depression. This is no pet theory book.

3) Each action to help depression has been tailored for the depressed person: they are easy to understand and easy to put in place in your life. It is something that is so often overlooked in books to help depression - depressed people just find it harder to do everything, so if there is a complicated and difficult action to help depression, chances are it won't be done.

4) The fact that the actions are based on thorough research means you are more confident that they will work, and therefore put more effort into adopting them.

5) The book covers several different types of actions to help depression. Other depression books tend to focus just on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or just on your diet, or just on whatever. For each individual the effectiveness of each action is probably very different, but by doing all 6 bases you've got the best chance that you're doing the things which will help YOU.

Anyway I've rambled on enough!

In summary: give this book go! There's no harm in trying.
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on 7 August 2010
Reading this book was a breath of fresh air. It isn't merely Ilardi's rejection of a drug-based approach to treating depression; such rejections are two-a-penny in the 'alternative therapy' field. No, what sets this book apart is that it is balanced, well-researched, undogmatic and rooted in the careful use of scientific evidence.

The core hypothesis is simple. Depression rates are rising because we are increasingly living a lifestyle that takes us further and further away from how our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors lived. Our bodies and minds are, in evolutionary terms, essentially the same as they were 13,000 years ago. In order to cure our depression we need to compensate for the fact that we no longer - and cannot any longer - live as they did. We can, however, do a number of things that learn from that earlier existence (and from how some people with very low depression rates still live). Ilardi focusses on six areas we can change: 1) improved diet (he focusses on Omega 3 supplements), 2) exercise, 3) more sunlight, 4) better sleep, 5) stopping ruminating, 6) spending time with other people.

He's clearly pushing what he believes is a radically improved way of dealing with depression, but much of what he says makes a lot of sense whether you are suffering from depression or not. He also does the proper medical thing of looking at evidence from clinical trials and from a range of different sources. The language and discussion can be a little simplistic and folksy in places, but that's a small price to pay for what is an excellent treatment of a controversial subject. In my case, I could see elements where I'd have to modify to a small degree some of what he recommends (solitude isn't always a bad thing). However, I've read a fair amount on this subject in recent years but nothing as comprehensive, positive, life-affirming and useful as this. I hope more people read and use this book. It has enormous potential to help sufferers from various levels of depression.
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on 8 September 2012
I read this book because I do not believe in taking medication to treat depression.The medication is a coping strategy which in my opinion could have long term negative consequences more so than positive ones.From personal experience I know that one cannot fix the cause of depression by taking a pill.These might or might not stabilise a person's moods but it won't fix what needs sorting out in a sober manner. This book was very basic, very good if you've never had depression and need to grasp the basics of dealing with it. The advise is the common sense approach readily available free on line anyway.It is good though that more books (like this book)are available now that gives people options on how depression can be treated instead of coaxing people with depression into becoming Prozac junkies, a notion that believe it or not scares me alot more than depression itself. To say this is the definitive way to beat depression is a bit simplistic. I think it is beneficial to read as many books as possible on depression if you are going through depresssion and pick up from each book what could be of benefit to you, because a person's recovery from depression is as individual as the person themselves.
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on 19 December 2014
After many years of depression I finally decided to take my doctors advice and go onto Citalopram. This helped initially but after 2 years all it was doing was just about keeping me ticking over. Feeling even more lacking in energy than usual one morning I trawled the internet looking for help and this book leapt out at me. Within a month of following the programme I was feeling better than I could have thought possible. I have stopped taking the Citalopram and am just going from strength to strength. Thank you for saving my life!!!
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