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What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Depression: The Breakthrough Integrative Approachfor Effective Treatment    by Michael B. Schachter & Deborah Mitchell order for
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Depression
by Michael B. Schachter
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is one of a very useful series of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About ... books, aimed at individuals struggling to cope with specific medical conditions - as well as their family, friends, and caregivers. The volume on Depression is organized into two main parts: Coming to Terms with Depression and (the majority of the book) How to Prevent and Treat Depression Comprehensively. In his Introduction, Dr. Michael Schachter (Medical Director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine) speaks dismissively of the dozen antidepressant drugs on the market and the couple of dozen more under development, telling us that 'psychotropic drugs are not the complete answer' to this growing problem, and that they in some ways contribute to it. That statement certainly rings true with me, having watched a close family member suffer a variety of side effects from a succession of these drugs, with no appreciable improvement to her condition.

What does the good doctor suggest as an alternative? Something called orthomolecular psychiatry - 'the practice of treating psychological problems by providing the body with optimal amounts of substances that are natural to it - including amino acids, vitamins and minerals, trace elements, and essential fatty acids - combined with positive lifestyle habits and mind-body therapies.' This is essentially what the author goes on to address in some detail in his book. He tells us that in the US, depression, 'the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, an imbalance that includes dozens of substances', affects at least nineteen million in a given year, ten percent of whom are young people, and that these numbers are growing. And he emphasizes that, given our unique biochemistry, individuals should listen to their own bodies when evaluating treatment concepts. Through the book, he offers primers on basics like neurotransmitters, explains causes of depression, presents symptom profiles, discusses diagnostic tests available, and advises on how to find the right professional help.

The majority of the book addresses the treatment of depression. Topics include amino acid therapy; a good balance of fats; nutrient and herb supplementation; diet guidelines; elimination of toxins; restoring hormonal balance; lifestyle changes (such as exercise, light therapy, relaxation techniques, and volunteering); complementary bioenergy medicines; and use of psychotropic medications in harmony with amino acid therapy. Dr. Schachter concludes with a chapter on success stories, encourages readers to seek professional guidance, and suggests a long list of helpful practitioners and organizations (addresses and websites). I recommend What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Depression as a very useful resource for anyone who is struggling with depression themselves or seeking to help a friend or family member afflicted with this debilitating illness.

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