Book Review: The Feel Good FactorSusannah Kent February 1, 2012
Author: Patrick Holford
Book Publication: 2010
Depression affects 121 million people worldwide. Here at home, The Mood and Disorder Society of Canada reports that 8% of Canadians will suffer from a major depression in their lifetime.
Allopathic medicine’s answer is antidepressants. With all the undesirable side effects of these pharmaceuticals, it will be a relief for sufferers of depression to discover The Feel Good Factor, written by nutrition and mental health specialist Patrick Holford. The author offers a refreshing approach to treating depression with nutrition and lifestyle changes, not drugs.
Holford’s goal with The Feel Good Factor is to help those in need “discover the fundamental keys to feeling good, motivated and sufficiently energized to deal with life’s ups and downs, to let go and learn from the past, and to create a lifestyle that makes life a joy to live.” That’s a tall order, but his work is well supported with considerable research and motivating case histories pointing to both the safety and efficacy of his 10 ways to boost mood and motivation.
An in-depth questionnaire to assess mood found in part one of the book will help the reader discover just how happy they really are. The same section contains some very interesting information about brain chemistry and current facts about antidepressants.
In part two, Holford explains in detail the most common biochemical and nutritional causes of depression and offers ways to deal with them. Some of the advice might surprise some readers, as when Holford suggests that people not use sugar “to reward yourself or cheer yourself up. Take some chromium instead.”
In another instance, he advises that serotonin, one of the brain’s feel-good chemicals, can be boosted by supplementing with a type of tryptophan (a building block for serotonin), 5-hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP. Here Holford points to a study revealing that 5-HTP outperformed a typical antidepressant, was less expensive, and produced significantly fewer side effects.
His 10-point mood-boosting plan includes: balancing blood sugar and hormones, discovering and eliminating foods that cause allergies, getting enough essential omega-3 fats, amino acids, and B-vitamins as well as sufficient sleep, sunlight and exercise.
The best thing about The Feel Good Factor is that Holford provides a solid, scientifically sound action plan to sufferers. He doesn’t just tell you what might boost your mood. He explains how the mood boosters work biologically and chemically, provides a specific methodology or protocol for intake of supplements and nutrients, and includes recipes for feel-good meals. He doesn’t ignore the all-important psychological element either, advising readers to “do something you enjoy every day, respect your feelings, and don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself.”
If The Feel Good Factor plan can do for others suffering from depression what it apparently did for journalist Stephanie Merritt, it is a program well worth checking out. Merritt writes, “About a week after beginning the nutritional supplement programme … I woke up in my hotel room and knew immediately that the black mood had lifted … I was no longer being crushed … It seemed, to my distinct surprise, that I might be better.”