The Wisdom of Depression: A Guide to Understanding and Curing Depression Using Natural Medicine

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9780609601082: The Wisdom of Depression: A Guide to Understanding and Curing Depression Using Natural Medicine

In The Wisdom of Depression: A Guide to Understanding and Curing Depression Using Natural Medicine, holistic physician Dr. Jonathan Zuess explains how the activation of symptoms such as insomnia, preoccupation with one's problems, soul-searching, and the desire to be alone are natural reactions to our harried lives. The initial stage of depression is designed to enhance our ability to focus inward and find solutions to difficult emotional challenges; in many ways our bodies and minds are forcing us to create a contemplative environment much like the vision quest of native cultures or the monastic quiet of a Western retreat.

However, if this process goes on for too long, we can become "stuck," mired in an unproductive, even painful cycle. The gentle, alternative therapies in this informative and practical book help restart the healing work of depression, instead of simply cutting it short. As an example, the herb St. John's wort enhances the dreaming cycle--an intensive problem-solving mode of consciousness--unlike prescription antidepressants. Other therapies covered include nutritional supplements, light therapy, music and play, meditation, and prayer. Dr. Zuess also discusses environmental toxins and drug side effects that mimic the symptoms of depression, as well as how to find a psychiatrist if the depression deepens to a clinical state and antidepressants become necessary. The Wisdom of Depression is the essential guide to the full array of treatments for depression.

As a society, we have long misunderstood the process of depression. Depression is not just a chemical imbalance in the brain. It can be our bodies' response to the need to address imbalance in our whole lives and is in many ways about transformation. In fact, when viewed and treated within a holistic framework, the process of depression can become a powerful and potentially creative healing path.

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Review:

"Depression is a quest for vision; its essence is transformation," begins Wisdom of Depression, a book with a unique slant. According to psychiatrist Jonathan Zuess, "depression can be a natural and healthy response ... designed to enhance your abilities to overcome difficult emotional challenges." Half of this book describes natural therapies for mild cases, allowing the person's internal healing processes, creative life energy, and spiritual journey to flourish. Understanding the importance of dreams is essential, says Zuess: dreams may be our version of vision quests. Depressed people dream almost twice as much as other people, and enter the dream state unusually rapidly. Two other keys are learning to see with "the eyes of the soul" and expressing creativity.

Temporary depression, says Zuess, "can help us to dive deep into ourselves, to restructure our inner being, and come to a new way of understanding and living in the world." According to Zuess, depression only becomes an illness when it goes seriously wrong and doesn't resolve itself naturally, developing into major depressive disorder. In this case, he advocates a medical diagnosis, talk therapy, nutritional supplements, exposure to early morning light, and either conventional antidepressant drugs or herbal alternatives--all of which he discusses in detail. --Joan Price

From the Publisher:

The word natural underlies much of this low-keyed, practical book. Zuess distinguishes between a depressed response and a major depressive disorder. The former, which generally lasts a week or less, is a warning from the mind that the person should take time out, seek its cause, examine it from different viewpoints, and figure out how to handle the associated problem; a depressed response to a difficult life situation is really an opportunity to straighten out problems. A major depressive disorder, lasting more than a week and affecting important aspects of life, should spur a person to seek immediate professional help, especially if suicidal impulses are involved. Zuess cites case histories to show how depressed responses can be turned to advantage, and he offers much practical advice. Dreaming can play a helpful role in understanding and healing, he maintains, here borrowing much from the shamans of American Indian tribes. St. John's wort and alternative medicine may also be useful, he thinks. The wisdom of the title breathes throughout the whole book.
--Booklist

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Jonathan G. Zuess
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