Guest Author - Karen Huber
Moving Beyond Depression: A Whole Person Approach to Healing is a thorough, comprehensive book dedicated to helping the individual. This is not a cookie-cutter, classifying approach; Jantz believes that depression is individually experienced and must be treated as such. In each chapter, he lists treatments for each part of the person: spiritual, physical, emotional, and environmental. He gives examples of patients suffering depressive symptoms, treatments they received, and their recovery. The spiritual aspect of the book was a pleasant surprise was. Dr. Jantz does not command that everyone be Christians; he uses passages from the Bible to uplift the spirit and recommends those he believes are helpful to recovery. He also lists and annotates more helpful resources at the end of the book and recommends reading one for further healing. Since the mind and body are connected, the body must be healed along with the mind, which is why he advises against using only medications. He advises nutrition, exercise, and surveying one's environment for chemical sensitivities and allergies.
Each chapter describes how to deal with specific areas of life related to depression such as family dynamics, relationships, intellectual, spiritual, and physical support. Dr. Jantz recommends keeping a journal, and at the end of each chapter, presents questions that enable you to take stock of key issues in your life that you might change in your recovery from depression. Included in the exercises at the end of each chapter are a moving forward phrase, objective of the journal work, and statements that you might have internalized. He covers substance abuse, medications, and true spiritual faith. Being in tune with your body and looking at environmental surroundings are part of the healing process, as well as altering your perceptions of life events and dealing positively with stress. That we must respond to stress instead of reacting to it is a phrase that I will personally try to incorporate into my life.
Jantz delves into how to choose your mood in order to diminish the power other people have in bringing negativity into our lives, creating emotional balance, and how to navigate draining activities and relationships. He advocates beginning slowly, maintaining consistency in changing our patterns of response, and most importantly, finding positive support. Exercise, hydration, and good sleep are all part of his formula for recovery. He recommends a twelve-week program which is outlined in the last chapter. Each week has activities for integrating each aspect of healing the whole person: emotional wellness, environmental balance, relationship healing, physical health, and spiritual renewal. You are instructed to read one of the books listed in the resources, expand positive relationships, exercise good physical health habits, pray, and read uplifting Bible passages. He advises us to keep moving forward and explains the purpose of pain in our lives.
The resource list contains annotations of some interesting books for further reading, such as Dealing with Depression Naturally by Syd Bumel, Conquering Depression by Mark A. Sutton and Bruce Henningan, M.D., and The Freedom from Depression Workbook by Les Carter, Ph.D. Other titles were: Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Dr. Gregory Jantz, Ph.D., Relationships: An Open & Honest Guide to Making Bad Relationships Better and Good Relationships Great by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, and Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You by Richard O'Connor, Ph. D. There is plenty of reading material recommended in the book and further information on depression on the website run by The Center for Counseling and Health Resources in Edmonds, Washington, where Dr. Jantz works.
This was an excellent book. I could not find much to criticize. The “optimism, hope, and joy” phrase was repeated frequently in the beginning, but this phrase is a focus point or mantra for the goal of climbing out of depression. I received my free copy from the kind print campaign manager and found Dr. Jantz's program to be a clear, step-by-step process that anyone can incorporate into their mental health goals. As he says in the book, these steps can be done by individuals or by those who are already working with a mental health professional. The book style is interesting, understandable, and makes you want to read Dr. Jantz's other books. I was a little sorry when I finished this book; it was like having a good friend around. You do not have to be depressed to read it; it will nourish even the happiest life.