March 17, 2019

How I Recovered From Depression

Depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide*.  The World Health Organization states, "Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease."*  Some stats report up to 15% of people will experience major depression (who know how many will have to deal with mild or moderate symptoms).**

But beyond statistics, it gets personal when it’s a dear friend, close family member, or even closer to home, yourself. I’ve certainly not come away unscathed. Several years back I was diagnosed with depression and given some antidepressants. But what really helped me to completely heal was an integrative approach. The program I went through was called the Depression Recovery Program by Dr. Neil Nedley.  This program has since been renamed The Depression and Anxiety Recovery program because it works for both. This integrative approach aims to eliminate or reduce the risk factors for depression as far as possible. Those risk factors according to Dr. Nedley's research include***:
  • genetics
  • certain events during upbringing
  • nutrition (lack of certain nutrients or too much of others)
  • certain lifestyle choices (such as not enough activity)
  • frontal lobe function 
  • toxins (certain heavy metals)
  • social support
  • addictions
  • medical conditions such as diabetes
  • interrupted circadian rhythm

Some of these you can’t do anything about now, such as your genetics or childhood development. (although you could make a difference in future generations). But the good news is Dr. Nedley found that you usually had to have four "hits" to get depression. That means even if you had the genetic marker and a rotten child hood you could still work on the other eight hit categories of risk factors to prevent or reverse depression. Note: there are several individual items within each of these risk factor categories, but he found that that did not increase your likelihood of having depression. Another words, if you had 2 addictions and 2 nutrition issues that wouldn’t necessarily give you depression.

This makes a lot of sense because when researchers try to isolate and study, say tryptophan, they find it has an impact on depression but not everyone with a tryptophan deficiency has depression.  Dr. Nedley's approach is a more accurate way to work toward healing depression because it's covering a multitude of risk factors. His 10 category "hit" model has been researched and given an 84% sensitivity rate (research speak for a form of accuracy).

And he has been very successful with using this category approach in practical programs. In one study, after only 8 weeks on the program (done by video, workbook, and small group classes once a week), 57.6% (2754 participants) did not qualify as depressed. Keep in mind, the whole program is 12 weeks, and many participants do not work the program but only watch the videos. I would love to see the numbers from this study on those who actually do the program. In my limited experience (and other director's I've been in contact with) it's been close to 99% for those that do the whole program, and this is substantiated by the 99% success rate of those that attend the live in program*****.  Anyway I don’t want this to be an advertisement, I just wanted to set the foundation for my experience and why I believe so strongly in an integrative approach.

Dr. David Burns, who uses cognitive behaviour therapy along with other powerful tools he has developed also has an incredibly far above average success rate.  I believe one of the reasons Dr. Burns model is so successful is because the power of the mind is incredible in healing the body. Also when doing this kind of cognitive behaviour therapy (more advanced than standard CBT) you really are working on several of the risk categories identified by Dr. Nedley such as social, lifestyle, frontal lobe, addiction, and even developmental, in as far as how you perceive its effects on you now.

Back to my story. I found the medication my doctor prescribed gave me the ability to complete Dr. Nedley's program, and work through the Feeling Good book, which shows medication can have a place in this process. To date, I haven’t needed medication since, and that was over 12 years ago.  Yes, part of Dr. Nedley’s program is using cognitive behavior therapy. In fact, in the original program that I took, we used Dr. Burns book "Feeling Good". That’s how I learned about Dr. Burns and eventually TEAM therapy.

But it wasn’t just me, it helped two of my friends and my husband, who took the program with me (we used the in home video program). All four of us recovered from depression within the 12 week program time frame. I went on to become a director and facilitator and found those who stuck with the program had a full recovery from depression. As a bonus we had participants also do better with their diabetes and heart disease. Their doctors even had to reduced their medications just 6 weeks in.

So, while integrative approach is a lot of work, it also improves other aspects of your life. Because you’re not just going to feel better emotionally but also physically. And this means you’re around longer to be with your kids and grandkids. You have more vitality and energy to do the things you would like to do as you age. And if you’re younger, you can help to avoid those top five fatal diseases in Western society that are often preventable****.

So whether you are interesting in learning more about the integrative approach or simply working on your thinking process and emotional health, I’m happy to help you either way. I don’t have a burden to pressure you with what helped me because we all are different and only you can choose what's right for you. I just wanted to share part of my story so you can see there is light at the end of the dark depression tunnel and I understand what it's like to be in that dark place where hope is bleak. Book a free 15 minute consultation with me to learn more how we can work toward a brighter future.

PS: If you are dealing with depression, whether or not you want to work with someone to get help, I encourage you to start with getting Dr. Burns book "Feeling Good", usually under $10, and found in almost any book store in North America or internationally on Amazon in several languages (I checked, it's available in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, China, France, Germany, and India just to name a few). 2/3 of patients on a waiting list for therapy found they had symptom improvement from depression just from reading this book.

PPS: If you’re feeling like life is not worth living and you’d rather not even be here please contact: 

Crisis Line for Canada toll free 24/7: 1-833-456-4566 Or chat or text

National Suicide Prevention Hotline for USA:  1-800-273-8255 OR you can chat with them and other resources online visit

“Depression.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization,
** Morin, Amy, and Lcsw. “How Many People Are Actually Affected by Depression Every Year?” Verywell Mind,
*** Nedley, Neil, and Francisco E Ramirez. “Nedley Depression Hit Hypothesis: Identifying Depression and Its Causes.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, SAGE Publications,
**** “The Top 10 Deadliest Diseases in the World.” Healthline, Healthline Media,
***** Carney, Linda, MD. "Nedley Depression Recovery Program" Blog, June 2, 2016