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Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) for Depression

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) is a wellness-based and researched backed group treatment for depression.  Across the industrialized modern world, clinical depression has reached epidemic proportions, despite a staggering increase in the use of antidepressant medication. In fact, depression is now the single leading cause of work-related disability for adults under 50. Research shows that rather than being at the mercy of mental health problems, there are many practical ways that we can maintain good mental well being and emotional balance. Research has demonstrated that TLC is an effective treatment for depression, with over 70% of patients experiencing a favourable response, as measured by symptom reduction of at least 50%.

TLC Elements

Nutrition (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)

We wouldn’t put the wrong time of fuel in our cars, so why would we fuel our bodies with the wrong type of nutrition? More specifically, we no longer get the level of Omega-3 fatty acids from our diet that we used to. Omega-3 has been shown to have anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory properties. Our bodies don’t produce Omega-3 fatty acids

Anti-Rumination Strategies

In the ancestral environment, people had less time to sit alone and think negative thoughts. There were often activities to do, or other people around to serve as distractions. This is no longer the case, and many people in the modern environment may find they have plenty of opportunities to ruminate or overthink things. Rumination, a habit that many depressed people get into, is dwelling on negative thoughts and feelings. Rather than coming up with a solution to a problem and acting on it, people with depression often let their negative thoughts spiral out of control. It is important to recognize rumination for what it is and learn how to put a stop to it immediately.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the most beneficial, but most difficult elements of TLC. A cardinal symptom of depression is low energy, which makes exercise difficult. Initially, it takes a lot of energy to exercise, but once you begin, you’ll find that you have increased energy, and subsequently, increased mood! In fact, several studies have found that exercise is about as effective, if not more effective, than most antidepressant medications. For this programme, you will be placed in small group training with a personal trainer.

Light Exposure

This element of TLC is most helpful to people who notice that there is a seasonal component to their depression. We recommend that people get at least 30 minutes of bright light exposure per day. You can actually go outside in the sun (take off the sunglasses, but leave on the sunscreen!) or get light exposure from a special light box that emits the same amount of light (10,000 lux). This is something that will only work for you cumulatively if you are consistent!

Social Support

You have probably noticed that as you or someone you love becomes more depressed, there is less motivation to seek out others for socializing. Evolutionarily, our brain may interpret depression as an illness. Just as we keep away from others when we have the flu (which gives us time to recover and keeps others from becoming infected), our natural inclination when depressed is to withdraw from our social networks. Unfortunately, this worsens depression.

Thus, it is important to lean on friends and family, not only to get needed social support but also because spending time with others is a good way to distract yourself from rumination.

Sleep

Many today see sleep as expendable. When there is extra work at the office, studying for finals, or just a late night TV show to watch while you unwind, it is easy to cut into valuable sleep time. Our ancestors did not have many of these distractions – when the sun went down, there may not have been much else to do but sleep.