January 1st, 2012

The Mind-Body Mood Solution: The Breakthrough Drug-Free Program for Lasting Relief from Depression

“The Mind-Body Mood Solution: The Breakthrough Drug-Free Program for Lasting Relief from Depression”

By Jeffrey Rossman

Rodale Books

New York, N.Y. 2011

Author’s view will resonate with readers

Reviewed By James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D

According to psychologist Jeffrey Rossman, “We are living in an age of depression.” Indeed, mental health statistics suggest that approximately 25 percent of Americans will experience depression in their lives. The annual cost of treating depression is billions of dollars with heavy emphasis on medication as a primary therapeutic modality. And yet, there is controversy about the actual effectiveness of antidepressant pharmacology and its associated emotional and physical side effects.

“The Mind-Body Mood Solution” is a self-help book for people who have mild to moderate depression. Early in the book, readers are encouraged to complete a self-assessment scale in order to identify the severity and longevity of their symptoms. Later in the book, additional scales are provided to monitor treatment progress. The author acknowledges that cases of severe and protracted clinical depression will require more intensive professional attention.

The basis of Rossman’s treatment plan is that many people are depressed because of “sweeping cultural changes in the way we live, work, travel and play.” The demands of modern day life, he argues, have removed us from our ancestral roots when people were “in concert with the rhythms of nature,” ate unadulterated foods, spent the majority of their time outdoors and were physically active. He concludes that in overcoming depression, “Genuine and lasting recovery requires realignment with what is natural and nourishing to our lives.”

In keeping with the author’s thesis, the first part of the book features recommendations for improving health and body wellness, namely diet, exercise, sleep, bright light exposure and regulated breathing. The information contained in these chapters is based on empirical research which Rossman explains clearly without overpowering the reader with tedious academic discourse. Parenthetically, it is worth noting that these recommendations would apply to anyone seeking a healthy lifestyle, not just people who are struggling with depression.

One section of the book references research dealing with the “mind” components of depression. These chapters consider mindfulness, behavioral activation, goal-setting, avoidance exposure and cognitive strategies. Rossman presents basic concepts and his many case examples illustrate how different methods can be applied in real-life situations with family, at work and times alone.

This book succeeds on many levels. First, Rossman writes well, with easy-to-understand and accessible prose. He also knows a great deal about and convincingly articulates the phenomenology of mild to moderate depression. Accordingly, his perspective will resonate with readers and likely gain their confidence as they navigate treatment options.

I also liked Rossman’s focus on teaching readers how to construct a self-help plan. For example, each chapter concludes with a series of “reflective questions” that ask readers to evaluate themselves relative to what they have just read. These responses are then used to create and execute depression-conquering lifestyle changes.

Although at first blush “The Mind-Body Mood Solution” may appear to be yet another in a series of “new age” remedies for life problems, it is anything but. Again, I stress that Rossman backs up his claims with research support and he consistently adopts an objective approach to evaluation. The book’s “drug-free” title reference reveals the author’s bias but on the whole, his analysis of medication effectiveness for depression is accurate, balanced and informed.

I’ve read and reviewed several other self-help books for depression but this one is the best. To his credit, Rossman advises that anyone contemplating his program should be cleared medically, have sources of social support and not overlook the benefits of psychotherapy. I would not hesitate suggesting the book to adults who are mildly to moderately depressed or minimally, concerned about their mood, persistent unhappiness and lack of vitality. Mental health professionals should also read the book and could include it as a bibliotherapy resource for their clients.

James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D, is senior vice president, applied research, clinical training and peer review at the May Institute in Norwood, Mass.

By James K Luiselli EdD ABPP BCBA-D

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