The number of people suffering from depression has increased twenty times over the past century, with one in four Americans now suffering from major depression at some point in their lives. One researcher and college professor believes he knows why depression is so much more common nowadays than in yesteryear.
Stephen Ilardi, PhD, a professor pf psychology at the University of Kansas, attributes the staggering increase in this debilitating illness to our modern-day lifestyles, as our bodies were not designed for the neck-breaking pace and common circumstances of modern living.
Ilardi contrasts our modern-day existences to our increasingly distant pasts, when we had no choice but to be much more physically active, we were out in the sun a lot, we had extensive social networks, and we had frequent face-to-face contacts with friends and family members. Further, the researcher adds, our bodies were never designed for the sleep-deprived and poorly nourished lifestyles that so many Americans lead nowadays.
As such, Ilardi’s method for curing and preventing depression involves reconnecting with our ancient ways.
The system is detailed in Ilardi’s book, The Depression Cure (now available in hard cover and paper back), and Ilardi calls the system Therapeutic Lifestyle Change, or TLC. It consists of six elements:
- Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (lots of fish, seeds and nuts)
- Getting regular exercise
- Getting plenty of natural sunlight
- Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours for adults, more for children)
- Having social connections
Participating in meaningful tasks (leaving less time for negative thoughts)
One of the great advantages of this natural anti-depression approach is that it can be used in combination with anti-depressants, therapy, or by itself.
In a study conducted by the University of Kansas, fewer than 25 percent of depressed patients got better with usual treatments (mostly medications), whereas more than three times as many patients got better using the TLC method. Every patient who used the TLC program got better, even when most had failed to get well with anti-depressants alone.
As Ilardi points out, all six components have been individually shown in published research to have anti-depressant properties. But the TLC approach combines these separate elements into a unified and stronger method for curing and preventing depression. TLC works for patients with clinical depression, for people with milder symptoms and those who are just feeling “blue,” and as protection against depression in the future.
The elements in the TLC approach are in fact health-promoting for all of us, even if we’re doing well. Unlike the many potential unpleasant or hazardous side effects of anti-depressants, TLC’s “side effects” include:
- Weight loss
- More energy
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved heart health
- A stronger immune system
- Greater mental clarity
So, before you try pills, or if your depression has not responded to medication, you may be well-advised to do it nature’s way: nourish your body with nutritious whole foods, exercise (even if it’s a moderate activity like walking, bike-riding or gardening), get some sun as often as possible, get plenty of nightly sleep, connect with people around you, and include tasks in your life that will add meaning and enhance your sense of participation or belonging.
By Jamell Andrews