6 Steps for Beating Depression

In his book, “The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs,” author Stephen Ilardi argues that the rate of depressionamong Americans is roughly ten times higher today than it was just two generations ago, and he points the blame to our modern life-style. Everything is so much easier today than it was back when we had to hunt and gather. Why doesn’t the convenience translate into happiness?

His book concentrates on six ways we’ve turned our back on the things that fight depression. I concur with him that the modern lifestyles contributes to the rise of depression, and I wholeheartedly support all six steps he offers. In fact, each one is included in my 12-step program for beating depression. However, I am uncomfortable with his dismissal of medication, because that is such an important part of my program. He agrees that for those battling severe depression, antidepressants are effective, and claims that individuals suffering from bipolar disorder derive unequivocal benefit from mood stabilizers. But he thinks that the majority of those suffering from unipolar depression can get better on their own.

I guess I’m a tad skeptical because I tried that route. Even though I had implemented all six of his steps into my recovery program, I didn’t get well until I found the right medication combination–which included two antidepressants in addition to a mood stabilizer–to treat my bipolar disorder; that is, until I was stable enough to continue all the exercises needed to get and stay well. And the mood stabilizer by itself was not enough to bring me out of a suicidal depression.

I want to highlight his six steps, however, because I do think they are crucial to a recovery program from depression, and I congratulate him on such a comprehensive book.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Yes. Absolutely. I get a Noah’s Ark shipment of those to my house every month, as I have read the same research. Ilardi writes:

Because the brain needs a steady supply of omega-3s to function properly, people who don’t eat enough of these fats are at increased risk for many forms of mental illness, including depression. Across the globe, countries with the highest level of omega-3 consumption typically have the lowest rates of depression.

Clinical researchers have even started using omega-3 supplements to treat depression, and the results so far have been highly encouraging. For example, British researchers recently studied a group of depressed patients who had failed to recover after taking antidepressant medication for eight weeks. All study patients stayed on their meds as prescribed, but some also took an omega-3 supplement. About 70 percent of those who received the supplement went on to recover, compared with only 25 percent of patients who kept taking only the medication. This study–along with a handful of others like it–suggests that omega-3s may be among the most effective antidepressant substances ever discovered.

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