On the bookshelf in my consulting room is a gem of a book entitled: The Antidepressant Survival Guide: The Clinically Proven Program to Enhance the Benefits and Beat the Side Effects of Your Medication by  Robert J. Hedaya

The Antidepressant Survival Program

As time went on I began to realize that these two intertwined issues – alleviating the side effects of antidepressants and uncovering hidden medical disorders – required more than medical tests and drug treatments. During the early 1990s it became clear to me that nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle factors all played roles in combating the side effects of antidepressants while bolstering the medications’ benefits. (As is often the case in medicine, clinicians on the front lines were finding out what worked ahead of the researchers. Over the past three or four years, research studies have been confirming what I discovered in my practice.) I formulated nutrition, exercise, and stress management plans that became the foundation of my program – what I call the Fundamentals. The Fundamentals are based on sound, tested medical principles that will improve your overall health and alleviate antidepressant side effects while amplifying the therapeutic value of the antidepressants. I then combined the Fundamentals with my diagnostic tests, which I call the Medical Prescription, to create the Antidepressant Survival Program.The Antidepressant Survival Program has one overriding goal:To create healthy, balanced functioning in both your body and your mind, which will enable you to live your life as you were meant to live it: with energy, excitement, pleasure, and vitality. A balanced body and mind are the keys to recapturing the joys and freedoms that make life worth living: the ability to create and experience the simple but profound pleasures of love, work and play.

The Fundamentals

Nutrition Exercise Spiritual Renewal

Good nutrition, exercise, and a renewed spirit are the keys to a fulfilling and healthy life. They are also fundamental to maximizing the benefits of antidepressant medications and reducing their side effects.

Think of nutrition, exercise, and spiritual renewal as the three legs of the stool that supports and sustains your wellness. If any one leg is unstable, the stool is likely to collapse. Working together, they create an efficient metabolism and a mind and body in balance. The more balanced you are, the better you’ll feel – and the better you’ll be able to absorb the destabilizing effects of antidepressants on your weight, your vitality, and your sexuality.

Antidepressants require the right nutrients to enable them to do their job in your brain and body. Meanwhile, antidepressants can create unhealthy food cravings that lead to mood swings, energy depletion, and weight gain.


In concert with good nutrition, exercise will normalize your brainbody functions in a myriad of ways. Exercise releases mood-elevating neurochemicals and circulates more oxygen to your brain, supporting the therapeutic action of antidepressants. When you’re exercising regularly, you’ll have more energy and your body can reclaim its youthful proportions. And by building your physical strength, you’ll feel stronger and less vulnerable in both body and mind.


Anyone who’s recovering from depression or any other chronic ailment needs to take special care to nurture the spirit as well as the body. My prescription for spiritual renewal offers creative ways to restore your ability to experience pleasure by introducing stress relief, play, and spirituality into your life. If you’re too stressed to enjoy yourself, you will never truly recover from depression. Play is an important ingredient in spiritual renewal because it increases access to pleasure by reinforcing dopamine pathways that may have become underactive during depression. And countless studies have affirmed the medical and psychological benefits of making some kind of spiritual practice – whether secular or religious – part of your daily routine.

The Fundamentals are the do-it-yourself part of my program, but please take note of places where I encourage you to enlist a coach or support person. Nutrition and exercise are areas you may want to explore in consultation with your physician, and a trainer or workout buddy can be an invaluable ally when you’re trying to build exercise into your life. Spiritual pursuits are highly personal, but, again, the support of a community of people who share your beliefs or values can only increase the strength you draw from those wells.