Jessica's Reviews > The Chemistry of Joy: A Three-Step Program for Overcoming Depression Through Western Science and Eastern Wisdom

The Chemistry of Joy by Henry Emmons
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Mar 25, 10

bookshelves: health-medicine, self-help
Read from January 27 to March 01, 2010

I recommend this book for anyone who copes with depression, esp. chronic depression, or who lives with a loved one who suffers from depression. Dr. Henry Emmons is a psychiatrist who combines Western medicine with nutrition, fitness and lifestyle choices and Eastern health philosophies. He explains how depression meds work and why they do not work for everyone, although he is quick to say many of his patients have success with meds and that readers should not stop taking medication without a doctor's supervision. Instead, readers can take his recommendations alongside their meds, or it is a useful book for those on medication breaks.

The first section of the book discusses different types of depression and the diet and exercise plan that might work for each, but these vary only slightly and are mostly common sense advice: lean protein, complex carbs, fresh food, moderate to intense activity. The second part of the book discusses Ayurvedic medicine, a system of traditional Indian medicine. He writes about three Ayurvedic types, how they correspond to types of depression, and how patients of each type can work to balance their brain chemistry. He also writes about Buddhist philosophy and meditation.

I like that Dr. Emmons encourages the reader to take small steps and make the changes she can, without absolving the person of responsibility for her own mental health. I am doing many of the things in the book and rereading passages for perspective. I suppose this review is dragging my personal life onto Goodreads but this book is so important that I feel it is worth it to get others to read it.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Julie Thank you for sharing this, Jessica- I will be looking for a copy of my own next trip to the bookstore. I suffered a major bout of depression about 3 years ago when we were in New Zealand. It seemed to come out of the blue (no pun intended) and I dragged myself back to the surface with Brendan's support, physical labot and a lot of desperate prayer, but no counseling (not a good idea) and no meds. I feel like my life since then has been a quest for simple peace- that I'm done with major ambitions, major moves- I just want to be quiet. I'm slowly exploring Soto Zen Buddhism, but as a yoga novice, I'm also interested in Ayurvedics.


Elisabeth Jessica, I'm so glad you read this! I'm doing a research project on Ayurvedic methods of treating depression, and the Ayurvedic practitioner I interviewed highly recommended I check this out. Dr. Emmons is also a good friend of my mindfulness teacher, and she recommended this book as well. I've devoured three-quarters of it in less than a week. Wonderful stuff! Can't wait to talk more about it with you. :)


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