View Full Version : Book - Natural way to beat depression

22-05-04, 22:47
Much of this sounds so very familiar to this site !!:)

A review from The Times this week

Natural way to beat depression

Western cultures depend largely on drugs and psychoanalysis to treat anxiety and depression. The number of antidepressant prescriptions handed out by British doctors has doubled in a decade, to 26.6 million each year. However, the American psychiatrist David Servan-Schreiber insists that there is a more effective approach based on the natural healing mechanisms of the body and mind. His controversial book Healing Without Freud or Prozac — already a bestseller in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada — will be published in the UK on June 4. As this exclusive extract shows, his self-help approach is unorthodox. But it is hard to dismiss — Dr Servan-Schreiber, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh school of medicine, is well-respected and backs up much of what he says with solid research.
Marilyn Monroe was perhaps the sexiest and most famous woman of her generation. Yet she always felt lonely and drowned her distress in alcohol. She eventually died of a barbiturate overdose. The lives of Kurt Cobain, Ernest Hemingway and countless others tell a similar story. Not talent, or glory, or money or the admiration of others can make life fundamentally easier.

There are, however, people who seem to live with harmony. They feel that life is generous and are able to enjoy everyday pleasures: meals, sleep, projects, relationships. Nobody escapes from hardships, but these people seem better equipped to get through misfortune, to give meaning to their lives — as if they had a closer relationship with themselves, with others and with what they have chosen to do with their existence.

How can we build a propensity towards happiness? I spent 20 years studying and practising medicine, mainly in the major universities of the United States, Canada and France but also with Tibetan doctors and Native American shamans. Over that time I found certain keys that turned out to be useful for my patients as well as myself. But they were not the methods I had learned at university. They involved neither drugs nor the usual talking therapies.

For five years I’ve been exploring how to relieve depression, anxiety and stress with an ensemble of methods that relies on the brain’s natural healing mechanisms. All the methods have been published in prestigious scientific journals but, because their mechanisms remain poorly understood, they have remained largely excluded from mainstream medicine and psychiatry.

My main assumption is that inside the brain is an “emotional brain”, built differently from the most evolved part of the brain, the “cognitive brain”, which is responsible for language and thought. Emotional disorders result from dysfunctions in the emotional brain. For many people, these dysfunctions originate with painful past experiences that have no relation to the present yet continue to control their behaviour.

The primary task of treatment is to reprogramme the emotional brain so that it adapts to the present instead of continuing to react to the past. To achieve this, it is more effective to use methods that directly influence the emotional brain via the body, rather than to use approaches that depend entirely on language and reason, to which the emotional brain is not as receptive. Each method advocated here supports the body’s constant attempts to recover its balance. So how should one get started? The principles are as follows:

We all develop methods of self-soothing during times of stress. Most of the time we are encouraged to practise one method or another because somebody is making money by selling it — we rely on chocolate, alcohol or cigarettes, or simply the anaesthetic effect of television.

Instead of these methods, people should discover their ability to control their “heart coherence”. This is a method of encouraging your heart to attain a regular rhythm. Set aside yo