Now that our clinical trial of a group treatment program for depression is essentially finished, and we have only the 12-month and 24-month follow-ups to complete, it is time for a more meaningful discussion of what it was that worked.
Immediately on conclusion of the 6-day trial, 90% of the women and 75% of the men no longer met the criteria for clinical depression. The remainder had statistically and clinically significant decrease of their depression rates. At 6-month follow-up, all but 1 of the trial participants no longer met the criteria for depression, and that 1 person had continued to improve.
I am currently writing a comprehensive text on the trial, in a format which I hope will both assist therapists and promote self treatment for the rapid elimination of depression. The following notes, while based on the content and findings from the trial, also delineate the structure of the text.
1 The Experience of Depression
Conventional approaches to depression have been: no treatment (because it is very often missed by the health professional), pharmacotherapy alone, or pharmacotherapy in combination with "talk" therapy. Sometimes ECT has been used as a therapy of last resort.
Various theories exist to explain depression and it is believed that approximately 50% of people suffering from depression have a genetic predisposition to low serotonin production.
Although depression is found across all age groups, it seems predominant in females (approx 2:1 according to Australian ABS data) and also clusters around certain life cycle events/stages.
We propose a new model for depression, encompassing learning theory and brain function, orthomolecular medicine, and neuro-somatic theories.
2 Declaration of a Breakthrough
Our research indicates that regardless of genetic influences, or whether the depression is endogenous or exogenous, treatment outcomes using our self-treatment/training program are uniformly outstanding. Not only that, but treatment effects seem to magnify over time.
It is apparent to us that permanent results can be obtained, even with severe depression, in a matter of days at most.
3 Making a Start
Because the experience of depression is so unique to each individual, we teach clients to construct a mindmap of their problem. This may well be subject to modification as self-awareness grows and also as progress is made.
We stress the importance of a complete nutritional review by a qualified person. We do not at present believe that anyone but a medical doctor specialising in biochemistry could properly understand and work with the subtle and highly complex chemical ratios which underpin proper mental and physical function.
Our reason for including this type of investigation (which was not part of our clinical trial) is that although subjects report elimination of depression, it was common for some fatigue, digestion or sleep disturbance to remain. In a zinc taste test, over 90% of the trial participants were found to be zinc deficient (and zinc is vital for serotonin and melatonin production).
We also stress the importance of light physical exercise, done on a daily basis in the outdoors. This recommendation is made in support of a recent Duke University study which showed the positive effect of this type of exercise (though interestingly not when combined with pharmacotherapy!).
Whilst we believe people will get far better and faster results if first weaned off medication, we must strongly discourage anyone from simply withdrawing. Evidence is to hand that withdrawal from anti-depressants (particularly the new SSRI's) can be dangerous (note 26 August 2001, class action against Glaxo Smithkline Corporation by thousands of Paxil users and recent murder case in Australia attributed by court to reaction to Prozac). Titration must be managed under the supervision of a medical specialist.
4 The Resource Triangle
This is the centrepiece of the treatment program. Participants are shown how to use this simple but powerful neuro-linguistic/neuro-somatic process (developed by NLP genius and master trainer Rex Steven Sikes) to eliminate their depression. I have my colleague Dr Allen Gomes to thank for the innovation of using extremely horrid and bizarre (but often fun) states to ramp up the effectiveness of this technique.
The Resource Triangle works not by fighting against the depressed state, but by adding other intense states to it. Like any recipe, the neurological recipe for depression cannot turn out a predictable result if we "stuff around" with the ingredients.
5 Emotional Freedom Techniques, and Be Set Free Fast
EFT, developed by Gary Craig, and BSFF, developed by Dr Larry Phillip Nims, are used to treat every aspect of the depression, as uniquely experienced by each person. These same techniques are used later in removing internal blocks to goal achievement.
6 Metaphor - Watch Your Words!
Here we make clients aware of metaphors they use to filter or describe their life experiences and demonstrate how powerful and easy it is to simply swap metaphors.
7 GaugeWork - Latest Breakthrough in Fast Change
This work was not included in the trial -- it wasn't even invented at that time, and it continues to evolve even now. The section includes a brief history of GaugeWork, GaugeWork for aspects of depression, applying gauges, and using gauges to go beyond depression to what we really want in life.
8 Exercise - a Vital Component
Full description of Duke University study. We also include cross-crawling type movements from kinesiology.
9 Problem Solving
Depression is not caused by problems, but they certainly do affect quality of life. We found that our trial program did not necessarily equip people to solve the problems in their lives. In the 5 follow-up meetings with each individual no treatment was offered because the aim was merely to support the participants' own self-treatment. We commonly found a strong focus on problem solving, leading us to believe that with the depression basically eliminated, people had higher expectations of being able to solve their problems but did not necessarily have the skills to do so. Therefore we now teach several approaches to problem solving, including NLP approaches.
10 Staying Well in the Face of Family Pressure
We explain family systems for health and dysfunction, based mainly on the work of Virginia Satir. We also use NLP extensively to teach clients how to maintain rapport and connection while saying "no" to people.
We discuss "being a model" for family members, rather than "supporting" the family, as well as recognising problem "ownership".
Here we also teach "boundary work" and approach that using muscle testing and BSFF.
11 Getting the Life of Your Dreams
All good goal setting aims not "at" but "through". Therefore rather than simply aiming at eliminating the depression, we teach powerful processes for planning for and getting goals, based on my own dream information which could be called a "Web of Life", but which is in fact a common symbol through many cultures and times.
We teach a process for sharing and maintaining your dream with others.
This book is expected to be published by the end of 2001 and will retail at $AU96 plus postage and handling. Anyone who would like to register their interest is warmly invited to email me on Christine@lifeworks-group.com.au
Research Paper - "Neuro-somatic Treatment for Depression: A Preliminary Report on a Group Treatment Program
A full copy of this paper is available from the downloads section or go to: http://www.lifeworks-group.com.au/research/index.html