Here is an article which emphasises the importance of lifestyle and the therapeutic programs we help you establish – John Coombs
Ivan Pancic, right, a triathlon athlete and long-distance runner from the Kansas City area, said his participation in the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change treatment program at The University of Kansas has rid him of his depression symptoms and helped improve his athletic performance.
LAWRENCE — Five years ago, Ivan Pancic couldn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time. The smallest problem would overwhelm him. It was a struggle to get out of bed and navigate through the day. His back muscles were so tight he saw a chiropractor every week. Pancic, a triathlon athlete and long-distance runner, had been diagnosed with clinical depression. Various anti-depressant medications and counselling, however, didn’t seem to have any long-lasting effect. “I had been trying to deal with depression for years,” he said. “I’d have brief periods of improvement.” Pancic, 38, who works in the information technology field, said he began to research depression on the Internet and discovered a book, “The Depression Cure,” that said making changes to one’s lifestyle could successfully treat depression. He contacted the book’s author, University of Kansas associate professor of psychology Steve Ilardi, to see if he qualified for the 14-week Therapeutic Lifestyle Change treatment program, which focuses on a balanced diet, exercise, sunlight, sleep and social support. The treatment program is part of a research study being conducted by Ilardi and others at the university.
“It was the most freeing experience I’ve had,” Pancic said. “I have been depression free for 21/2 years. It’s very hard to describe, but it’s a completely different life.” Ilardi said the research study has been ongoing for about five years. “The most recent preliminary data analysis shows more than 70% of the people who completed the TLC program experienced a favorable response, which is defined as a 50% or greater reduction in their depressive symptoms,” he said. The idea for the TLC program came to Ilardi about seven years ago while he was teaching a graduate seminar in psychopathology at KU and realized the treatment of depression was unsatisfactory. “We have an epidemic of depressive illness despite the increase in anti-depressant medications and other forms of treatment, and it’s only getting worse,” he said. “This is baffling.” Over the past 20 years, he said, there has been a 300% increase in the use of anti-depressant medications in the United States, he said. One in every nine adults currently take such medications, and about 23% of Americans will battle an episode of depressive illness by age 75.
To better understand why depressive illnesses are so prevalent in modern industrialized nations, Ilardi studied evolutionary medicine and examined research on an aboriginal group in Papua, New Guinea, where depression is rare despite high infant mortality rates and often violent deaths. “In the two centuries since the Industrial Revolution, our world and our way of life have been radically changed, and yet we’re still walking around with exactly the same genes,” he said. “When our predominantly Stone Age genes collide with the modern post-industrial way of life, the consequences for our physical and mental health are often disastrous.” Ilardi said this mismatch can result in depression, diabetes, allergies, obesity, asthma, common cancers and heart disease — ailments rare in aboriginal groups.
“What we’re coming to realize about heart disease, the most serious epidemic of lifestyle, is that medications have a place,” he said. “They can be helpful in slowing the progression of the disease, but the sad reality is a large percentage of patients who simply take their medications and make no change to lifestyle will still eventually die of heart disease.” “It’s analogous with depression, where the clear majority of patients who faithfully take their medications but make no changes in how they live will not experience a long-term cure of their depression,” Ilardi said. “It’s not a problem we can simply throw medications at.”
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Change treatment program includes:
- Thirty minutes of brisk walking three times a week, with the support of an exercise consultant.
- Daily fish oil supplements to provide essential Omega-3 fatty acids that have disappeared from the typical U.S. diet.
The use of a light box to simulate the intensity of sunlight, which is critical in setting the body’s clock and synthesis of vitamin D.
- Insuring healthy sleep.
- Maintaining social connections. “Having just one emotionally supportive contact cuts the risk of depression by more than one-half when stressful events crop up,” he said. Participants in the TLC program meet with six to eight other people for 1 ½ hours a week for shared activity.
- Avoiding rumination, or dwelling on negative thoughts. “Rumination is psychologically toxic, and it has the tendency to pull other people into that world,” he said. “It doesn’t help anyone.” Still, Ilardi said, the TLC treatment program isn’t a cure for everyone’s depression. “But we’ve had very good success with those who didn’t respond to traditional therapies,” he said.
As reported by The Capitol Journal cjonline.com on January 28, 2012.