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The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,357 ratings  ·  146 reviews
Most Americans work long hours, eat on the fly, and lead increasingly sedentary, isolated lives. Alongside this lifestyle, depression rates have skyrocketed: approximately 1 in 4 Americans will suffer from major depression at some point in their lives. Where have we gone wrong? Dr. Stephen Ilardi sheds light on our current predicament and reminds us: our bodies were never ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by Da Capo Lifelong Books
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 ·  1,357 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those suffering from mild to moderate depression or know someone who is
The Depression Cure offers six practical steps to fighting depression through Stephen S. Ilardi's program Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC). The six components of TLC are:
- dietary omega-3 fatty acids
- engaging activity
- physical exercise
- sunlight exposure
- social support
- sleep

Most of the things above one can garner from common sense, which is why I relished reading The Depression Cure. As someone who suffers from mild depression every now and then I can say that exercise, getting enough
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it
I didn't know what to expect from this book--and then it turned out to be a primal living/lifestyle book for depression (even if it doesn't quite state as much). I've been exploring other sides of primal lately, so tying self-help/anti-depressant factors to the overall concept just fits in. That said, it does make me consider that this book is just telling me what I want to hear/agree with anyway, and the ground it's covering isn't exactly unique.

I will complain that this book spends most of its
The Angry Lawn Gnome
That question, "What did you think?," that shows up at the top of each review. I had never given it much in the way of consideration until I read through this work. For the simple reason that I am unsure what to think about the work in its totality. But this sense only comes from averaging my feelings: I found certain passages sensible, certain parts worthy of further consideration, and certain sections grit-my-teeth stupid, patronizing, annoying, and written in a tone that only a True Believer ...more
Dan Martinez
Oct 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Despite its somewhat brazen title, this book’s body is thoughtful and reasonable, backed by detailed notes and a substantive bibliography.

It’s also not merely of interest to those grappling with depression: it has a number of eye-opening things to say about general self-care, particularly nutrition. (Executive summary: agricultural industrialization has had a number of interesting side effects: some obvious, some less so; some beneficial, some less so.) Ilardi isn’t the first to point these
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Have you suffered through depression? If your answer is 'yes', read this book and apply the strategies it suggests. I can't say they will cure you, but I can say they will only make your life better.

I started applying the strategies in this book back in late August, and the change I have experienced in the way I view life has been dramatic. I was bordering on suicidal despair. I am now loving life despite an empirically non-ideal situation, living with my parents and working a minimum wage job.
Jul 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Over the last 10 years my daughter has suffered from depression. She has been to multiple doctors, outpatient programs including the infamous IOL (Institute of Living) and is no better than when it all began. So why not try the 6 steps this doctor offers in this book?
The 6 steps:
1. dietary omega-3 fatty acids
2. engaging activity
3. physical activity
4. sunlight exposure
5. social support
6. sleep

Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is really one big ad for buying fish oil.

It’s 6 common sense rules to getting over depression are:

1. Get 10-30 minutes of sunlight
2. Exercise
3. Social Support...aka make friends (easier said than done)
4. 7-8 hours of sleep
5. Positive thoughts
6. Omega 3 fish oil supplements

That’s pretty much it. I just saved you from reading this book.

You’re welcome.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a miracle, and I cannot enthusiastically recommend it enough. As someone who has suffered from depression for my entire life, with varying degrees of severity, I have tried endless methods of treatment. Medication has worked and been a blessing to many who suffer from this debilitating disease, but it has never worked for me. I have tried many different medications on many different doses, and most have never brought even the slightest degree of relief. Years of trial-and-error ...more
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book for those who either suffer directly from depression or love someone who does - which probably covers most of us. Ilardi pulls together the latest research from several fields to create a very practical, common sense strategy for beating the often devastating effects of depression.
Emily Crow
Well, this is good advice, but I already do these things, and guess what...I'm still reading this book, so that should tell you. It did motivate me to be more consistent about taking omega three supplements. Overall, I thought Andrew Weil's Spontaneous Happiness was more informative.
Russ Smith
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Initial thoughts: Don't really like the table of contents, chapters aren't clearly indicated, it shows 'Parts" 1, 2, 3, etc. Then CHapters, but then also shows sections within those chapters, just too much info going on. I like a clean TOC.

Chapter 1. The epidemic and the cure. Good read. Introduces the idea that our ancient ancestors (hunter-gatherer types) didn't have as much depression because their lives had more of the basic needs of humans (fatty omega 3, sun light, exercise, etc. Chapter
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Is there ground-breaking, new information here? No. However, Ilardi takes a look at things through the lens how how we used to live - hunger/gatherers. To me, this was a helpful approach as it shone a light on why some of these things make as big a difference as they do. And why depression has been climbing at alarming rates in the 20th and 21st centuries. Because our way of life is exponentially different, but there are things we can do to help combat the affects of those changes.

Do I buy into,
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book sounds promising... How effective is it? Time will tell.

I have a fair bit of faith in this book and the writer's claims. I have battled with my own black dog and become quite disillusioned with conventional therapy, but I also am not someone who has a lot of faith in airy-fairy new age therapy, either. I want to see things tested properly. I want to see proof that they work. There are a lot of snake oil merchants out there, particularly in mental health.

I was impressed with the
Alona Perlin
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic. It really speaks about depression in a clear-cut way, so the reader has a true sense of the full meaning of depression. It breaks depression down to its core and talks about depression in a way that people can understand it, relate to it (for those persons that are depressed)and also conquer it. It sheds a new light and understanding on this insidious disease and also eliminates the stigma associated with it.

The only two complaints I have about this book is the efficacy
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e

I've been suffering from mild mood swings for the last 4 years and I didn't do anything about them. It wasn't until 4 months ago when I was feeling so blue and was forced to see a psychiatrist. He diagnosed it with major depression episode and started me with anti-depressants ( prozac ), and I've been on them for a couple of month with no improvement so I started looking for other treatment options.

This book is written in a clear and reasonable way. Dr. Ilardi starts with a brief introduction
Joe Mama
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book's major insight is that there is an epidemic of clinical depression because humans are poorly designed for modern life. In that sense, depression is an illness of lifestyle like obesity or diabetes. The writer doesn't blame people for getting depressed, but the book does empower them to combat the illness through simple changes in lifestyle. According to the author, many of these changes (things as simple as swallowing fish oil or going for brisk walks) can improve brain chemistry, ...more
Claire Caterer
While the title may seem like hype, this book offers a real, doable step-by-step program based on solid research to help those suffering from depression. Some things sound like common sense--get more exercise, increase your social interaction--but this program offers specific therapeutic recommendations as well as a way to chart your progress. Easy to read, great information. Highly recommended.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you struggle with depression, this book offers legitimate, tangible, and practical things you can do to fight off the blues. It focuses on how modern life contradicts how we evolved as humans, and what you can do to counteract these effects. The recommendations are easy things to do, and they are not just cognitive-behavioral things but rather distinct and practical changes you can make.
Nate Crawford
Dec 01, 2013 rated it liked it
He is a little too "neat" at times. Mental illness is a lot messier than he allows it at times. But, for a lot of people struggling with minor forms of depression (the clinical minor - no depression is minor), I'm sure this is a very good program.
Jamie Lynn Lano
3 stars for great steps (all which I’ve read elsewhere and do believe in, except for the Omega-3 thing), but no more for constantly suggesting eating fish oil. It might help your depression, but I can’t support a book that advocates for killing animals.
Graeme Cowan
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: depression
This book provides some good common sense approaches to beating depression and I believe the 6 steps offered are all very valid. I don't think it is helpful to say that the "no drug" approach is the best way because for some people medication is a very important part of recover.
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Easy read. Clear, specific instructions. Very practical advice. Would recommend these steps to anyone battling depression, whether they are taking medications or not.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This modern lifestyle in which people in industrialized nations, particularly nations like the United States, live in has given prosperity and opportunity that has been so readily available than in anytime in human history, but at a huge cost: we are more prone to depression; humans weren't adapted to live in this fast-paced lifestyle. We were adapted to hunt, forage, run miles and miles, socialize with tight-knit communities, and soak in the Sun; our bodies, specifically the HPA-axis (our ...more
Sara Budarz
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: how-to-live, the-body
As someone who has been struggling intensely with depression these past few months, in the moments of having the strength to actually to anything, I've fallen back on what I always do best when faced with a new situation: research the crap out of it. And depression is no different: I want to understand it, understand my brain, understand how to combat it, understand how to accept it. And while there are a lot of books out there that give advice, as a researcher, I want books to have scientific ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
More than any other book, I have been recommending this to my clients. I work with offenders, who often present with depression and/or anxiety and i have found myself often referring to Dr Ilardi's principles, telling them about how distanced we are from the way in which our ancient ancestors lived.
Dr Ilardi writes in a way that is accessible and easy to apply. Whilst I read this for ideas to bring to therapeutic sessions, I found myself seeing that I could add principles to my own life and get
Paul Swithers
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 6 steps are coherent and easily followed. There are plenty of recommendations for how to implement them and how to stay on course. However, despite the cited studies, the overall approach seems a bit too simplistic to solve the complex problem at hand, "beating depression".

These are good recommendations for anyone who wants to be healthy and I would think should bring improvements to the mood and general feeling of well-being of a depressed person or anyone who actually sticks with them.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: health, psych-neuro
I can't speak for this as a replacement for meds, but I think it's a wonderful tool for restructuring life around what Ilardi named "Therapeutic Lifestyle Change". It seems to be evidenced-based, but also just sound logic. Sunlight, exercise, social support, and quality sleep (and he claims Omega 3s) are true balms for bodies. It's only touched on it the end, but I also think blood sugar regulation and decreasing inflammation probably plays a big part too. Just in my own limited perspective, ...more
Elizabeth Kitchen
Recommend six steps and book

Thank goodness for me after my acquired TBI/PTSD from an auto wreck I was still able to walk, and I always took what many doc said too many vitamins, not try according to this book. Now what gave me my first and only dealing with Depression was being isolated, something new for me. Once I made sure I was following the advice of this book and of course my TBI doc, I was amazed how my depression went away. Now the goal is to keep it that way. I now need the brain fog
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A good read whether you have depression or not--everyone can benefit from the suggestions in this book. I feel that the book's tagline is a little misleading. Yes, it is about a six-step program to beat depression without drugs. But it almost gives the impression that the author is anti-drug or not serious about depression as an illness, and just the opposite is true. His premise is that our modern lives are very different from the hunter/gatherer lives of our ancestors and this is the reason ...more
Karen Drake
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was recommended by my supervisor for recommended reading. I thought most of it was pretty accurate. I wish there was a more updated version of this book that shows more studys and research as the book quotes the DSM 4 and not the DSM-5 and if more institutions are enacting these protocols. But overall for an individual who's looking for help and that doesn't have
suicidal thought but does have Depression this would be a good option to guide you through processes of getting started with
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“I believe many of us now live as if we value things more than people. In America, we spend more time than ever at work, and we earn more money than any generation in history, but we spend less and less time with our loved ones as a result. Likewise, many of us barely think twice about severing close ties with friends and family to move halfway across the country in pursuit of career advancement. We buy exorbitant houses—the square footage of the average American home has more than doubled in the past generation—but increasingly we use them only to retreat from the world. And even within the home-as-refuge, sealed off from the broader community “out there,” each member of the household can often be found sitting alone in front of his or her own private screen—exchanging time with loved ones for time with a bright, shiny object instead. Now, I’m not saying that any of us—if asked—would claim to value things more than people. Nor would we say that our loved ones aren’t important to us. Of course they are. But many people now live as if achievement, career advancement, money, material possessions, entertainment, and status matter more. Unfortunately, such things don’t confer lasting happiness, nor do they protect us from depression. Loved ones do.” 1 likes
“recommend a starting omega-3 dose of 1000 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA each day” 0 likes
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