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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