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The Antidepressant Survival Program-How to Beat the Side Effects and Enhance the Benefits of Your Medication

Robert J. Hedaya, M.D., with Deborah Kotz

Review by William Zaccagnino, David Seaman, and James Secor, Ph.D., NAMI Literature Committee

The Antidepressant Survival Program-How to Beat the Side Effects and Enhance the Benefits of Your Medication
by Robert J. Hedaya, M.D., with Deborah Kotz
(Crown Publishers, 2000. 292 pages. Hardcover: $24.00)

Dr. Robert J. Hedaya's book The Antidepressant Survival Program-How to Beat the Side Effects and Enhance the Benefits of Your Medication, offers a possible solution for antidepressant side effects. Becausee, for some consumers, side effects are so severe or bothersome that they stop taking their medicine, the successful use of this program could be the difference between chronic illness and recovery.

Hedaya notes that antidepressants are not a perfect problem-solver because of their side effects, such as fatigue and weight gain. "I'm not depressed anymore, but when do I get a life?" was how one of his patients put it. He tries to help people taking antidepressants reclaim their whole lives.

Hedaya's program consists of a nutrition plan (the largest part of the program), an exercise program, and spiritual renewal. He advocates balance and limits in one's diet and offers specific guidelines. His exercise program improves circulation and aerobic fitness, strength, and flexibility. He approaches spiritual renewal various ways, such as through relaxation exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga with the objectives of relieving stress, increasing pleasure, and just plain having fun.

Although this program is a lifestyle change for most people, Hedaya insists on his patients' commitment, not just that they "will try." In turn, he promises fewer side effects, better antidepressant effect (perhaps leading to lower doses), and more energy. He describes ample rewards for following his program and believes-based on what he has seen in his patients-that the result is a profound difference, or "getting a life back."

Hedaya equally stresses adequate medical support to both ensure proper care during this change and to make the effort easier. And having personal support can prevent falling back into old eating and activity habits. Better yet, he believes, is having a co-participant for mutual moral support. Since the program would be healthful whether one is taking antidepressants or not, families might join consumers to strengthen commitment.

Hedaya describes success with over 300 of his patients. It may be a fairly small sample for science, but he is convincing about this improved-lifestyle program and its reported success for those who take antidepressants…and others.

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