The book Moving Beyond Depression: A whole-person approach to healing by Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D. with Ann McMurray may be a self-help treatment approach that you find fits well with your desires to improve health and lose weight. Dr. Jantz suggests that our culture is over medicated, especially when treating depression, and many find side effects like weight gain and decreased libido contribute to depression even if overall mood is improved. While the book begins with emotional currents, there is also a nice focus on nutrition, movement, and the whole person.
It is likely that Dr. Jantz chose to begin with the various emotions that can be involved in depression because a major part of experiencing depression is what one feels. Also many therapists are most comfortable discussing emotions. There are several examples and stories throughout the book in which you may be able to recognize aspects of yourself.
Improving physical energy has always been a part of how I approach depression with clients, often with great success, but Dr. Jantz includes an even more in depth look at possible physical causes for depression. He includes allergies and environmental toxins, and what you can do to counteract them. There is a focus in this book on eating for nutrition. The only thing I think he might have missed is how emotional states like depression can increase certain cravings. I believe understanding such cravings grants a bit more control over them. Dr. Jantz focuses on “physical motion” rather than “exercise” and uses the kaizen theory to encourage his readers and clients to just move more. He states that simply taking a walk can help you “to focus on something other than yourself and your surroundings….[and] intentionally open up your focus to include the broader world around you.”
Journaling is a major focus throughout the book with prompts at the end of each chapter to guide you through activities to reflect on the various aspects of your life and how you can best move beyond depression. Dr. Jantz does encourage using mantras which research has shown can actually lower mood if you do not already believe the statement on which you are focusing, so be sure to write your own and dismiss any that do not fit for you.
My only other concern with Moving Beyond Depression is the narrow approach to spiritual/existential energy. Dr. Jantz clearly comes from a Protestant Christian perspective; not only does he not include other major religions, but certainly misses how purpose and meaning work powerfully for those who are not religious.
Moving Beyond Depression will also have you analyze how fulfilling or draining each of your activities are for you, examine your overarching life beliefs and how they shape your reactions, consider how your family or origin factors into your experience, learn how to rebuild relationships, and consider taking multivitamins. In the section on physical energy, I appreciate that Dr. Jantz included sleep and hydration, which are essential but often overlooked. One of my favorite thoughts in this book is that negativity is normal, but we need to counteract it with those things that we find to be positive.
October 18th, 2011