Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
Give it a go
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.