The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 983: Intriguing Approaches to Overcoming Depression

Nondrug approaches could replace or complement drug treatments for depression; one medication could lift severe depression within hours instead of weeks.
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Intriguing Approaches to Overcoming Depression

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Antidepressant medications have become part of popular culture ever since Prozac came on the market in the mid-1980s. Only those who have weathered a suicidal crisis themselves or watched a loved one face such an emergency may truly appreciate how inadequate our current antidepressants are in such circumstances.


An old drug, ketamine, is now being tested for use against suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Where it takes many weeks, even months, for an antidepressant to reach its potential effectiveness, ketamine kicks in within hours. This medication was originally developed as an anesthetic and is administered through an intravenous injection. Listen as researcher Elizabeth Ballard, PhD, describes the promise and possible pitfalls of using ketamine for treating life-threatening depression.

Non-Drug Therapies

Even without suicidal ideation, chronic depression is debilitating. While many people respond to antidepressant drug treatment, some do not. Others would prefer natural approaches overcoming depression.

Stephen Ilardi, PhD, has studied how well non-drug approaches can work to alleviate depression. They do require effort, but they are all within anyone’s reach.

This Week’s Guests:

Elizabeth Ballard, PhD, is an NIMH research fellow and clinical psychologist working in experimental therapeutics and pathophysiology. Her study was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research (Nov., 2014).

Stephen S. Ilardi, PhD, is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Kansas. His work has been honored by the American Psychological Association’s prestigious Blau Award for early career contributions to the field.

His book is The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression Without Drugs.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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As a person who also has suffered on and off with debilitating depression, it is utterly painful. You feel like such a failure and cannot figure out how to fix yourself.

I have been on every antidepressant there is and after 30 years, I got off, some made me so much worse. I try supplements; however I don’t really know which ones are good. I am 60 years old and now have all types of physical aches and pains to go with this mental disorder (as some call it).

It is discouraging to have worked for over 12 years to get a BS while raising my daughter all alone, that I am on disability.

I just want everyone to feel tranquility, peace and happiness.

I am so so sorry for all that suffer from depression because it hurts. And although these words don’t mean much, I mean it from my heart.

Readers who live in the northern states should know that sunlight is not effective to prevent vitamin D deficiency in the winter months, because of the low angle of the sun on the horizon. How this might effect the response regarding depression, I am not sure. However, an alternative to being in sunlight is the use of a full-spectrum light box for a certain number of hours a day. This has been helpful in the NW and may be recommended by physicians who treat depression, as one of several interventions.

I sure wish there was a place to read the transcript of this show.
If it is my computer or my hearing I am not certain, perhaps both –as I am unable to get the full content of the show.
Is there a way to see a transcript ? This is very important to me.
thank you

We do not currently offer transcripts of our shows at this time, but we do offer free downloads of our recent programs for four weeks so that people can review the show as often as they like at their leisure. If the streaming option of our show was not working well for you, try downloading our show from our store (here’s the link to it: and then you can play it with the software of your choice. We hope this helps.

During my first marriage I almost didn’t survive my depression. I left, got a divorce and went back to school and got my BA in psychology to help myself. One course made a dramatic difference in my life-Psychopharmacology. That was in ’71 so I’m sure they don’t teach anything the drug companies don’t want them to teach nowadays, especially about natural nutrients.

I immediately started taking a good multiple vitamin and B complex and C vitamins daily. I started running. I got my life back after a disastrous marriage and a dozen miscarriages.

Since then I have added vitamin D to my list as well as coconut oil and magnesium. I have helped many people get off their meds. One MUST get their D tested as it will be a lot lower than one thinks. It is sometimes very difficult to get it raised. Sunshine did not work for me and I have to take a huge amount supplemental D3. For folks with medical problems, including depression, my Dr. recommends test results be between 60-100.

DO NOT GO OFF YOUR MEDS COLD TURKEY! No, I wasn’t on meds but have known a lot of people who were. Yes, were! One step at a time and don’t try to rush. Hopefully you can find a naturally inclined physician to help you on your journey.

Now at age 69 and happily married for 42 years my mood is still amazing. Yes, I have been through some really tough physical challenges these last few years but my mood is always good-no depression! Also along the way I earned my MA in Guidance and Counseling.

Thanks for sharing, it has inspired me to take my health in my own hands. I am going through a divorce and for the 17 years married, I have always been depressed. It is encouraging whenever I read stories like yours.

After about a month of taking hemp oil every day, it will begin to kick in and improve your mood very subtly but definitely. I have suffered from depression all my life and hemp oil is the best remedy I have found. I take a couple of tablespoons every day.

What is the research on using neurofeedback to treat depression, compared with medication or together with some medication?

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To say to someone suffering with depression and anxiety, “Oh it will go away just think positive thoughts and get busy”—well let me tell you -no one knows unless they have been there! I have and believe me its a very complicated illness—no your not crazy because you have depression/anxiety—-you have a chemical imbalance in the brain —–people just don’t get it -like pills—one size doesn’t fit all. So give us a break and have some compassion for others that are suffering with both issues.

If you have lived with it you know what its like. We don’t enjoy having this problem but it is so very real and can become very debilitating if it’s ignored.

So don’t ignore your feelings —GET HELP- It can change your life.

I didn’t hear the whole program, I came to the website to listen to the rest of it actually. From your comments, it sounds like you’re probably a lifelong sufferer of depression like I am. I have had many, many different flavors of depression diagnoses along the way to my current diagnosis of biopolar type 2. But I will say that I have in the past few years put many of these things the doctor suggested into practice and found that my meds are much more stable and I have even gone off my antidepressant and am just on a mood stabilizer now. I follow a gluten free diet which at first was primarily to see if it helped my fibromyalgia (it did) so I stuck with it.

I work on following good sleep hygiene and have lost weight so that exercising is not as painful or difficult. I don’t have a lightbox but I have a very sunny kitchen and office where I spend most of my time (I have heard that too much time with a lightbox can actually set off mania for people who are bipolar so I’m a little wary of this but it does explain why I get my manic episodes in April/May.)

I doubt the doctor is suggesting that someone who is depressive can completely abandon their medication regimen but with a holistic approach, some of the medications may be able to be tapered down so that you don’t have side effects to deal with. Especially for those on those that can cause brain fog or weight gain which may further cause the patient to want to withdraw from social or physical activity because of “body shame,” being able to reduce the dosage or get off these meds could be significant.

For me, I have an eye twitch in my left eyelid from my mood stabilizer that I’m actually going to talk with my doctor about reducing the dose. I have to take it at night because it’s so distracting that I can’t read! And I get a lot of funny looks if I take it during the day!

Stephen S. Ilardi, PhD views of depression upset me. After of years of dealing with anxiety and depression, suggesting one can just change a few things to make it all go away is disheartening. I practice all 5 things he suggest to help prevent depression but if one drama comes along (which in life happens a lot) I am thrown off. I am not talking about lets get upset for a bit, it is weeks before I can get back to exercising, gardening, and taking care of my family. I have done talk therapy and finally decided that medication works best for me.

I get the idea that if you lost 10 pounds you might be able to control diabetes but at some point you will not be able to control your weight. It is a physical disposition. A doctor would never tell a diabetic to discontinue his medication, just like telling folks they don’t need med to control a physical misfiring in the brain that causes depression.

Would like to obtain transcripts of programs, follow up on suggestions, remedies.

Thank you for your inquiry.

We do not offer transcripts of our programs at this time, but we do offer a free digital download of our radio show for four weeks after it has been broadcast so that listeners can play and review it as often as they like at their leisure. We also make CDs of our show available for purchase for those who prefer to listen using that type of format. You’ll also find a brief overview of the radio show along with our guests’ credentials, as well as links to any online resources mentioned during the show on our website.

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