TLC Elements: Treatment for Depression. Could This Really Work?

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TLC Elements (Therapeutic Lifestyle Change)

Lately, due to a recent family diagnosis, I have been doing some research on depression treatments and stumbled upon a Ted Talk by Dr. Steve Ilardi. He and his clinical research team have developed a program they call, TLC Elements (Therapeutic Lifestyle Change) that has been highly effective for many people suffering with depression.

I listened to his Ted Talk and further researched Dr. Ilardi and the TLC program on the University of Kansas’s website. In the talk, he lays out the reasoning behind depression in the first-world and how our lifestyle has contributed to the increased rates of depression. With each generation seeing a rise in those who are depressed.

So what is this program? It consists of six basic elements of a lifestyle change.

  1. Exercise
    • 30 min of cardio exercise 3 times a week. Ideally, get average heart rate between 120-160 bpm. Depending on age, etc.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Omega 3. Recommended supplement brands that have 1000 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA per day.
  3. Anti-Ruminating Activites
    • Activities that distract you from ruminating (replaying, continually thinking about negative things)
  4. Sleep Hygiene
    • Create a bedtime routine, turn off lights, screens, etc, get into pj’s, avoid alcohol and caffeine. Ideally, 8 hours is optimal
  5. Light Exposure (Sunlight or other)
    • 30 minutes of sunlight per day or utilize a light box..
  6. Social Connection
    • Find ways to interact with family and friends, in person when possible.

So let’s say you are going for a walk with a friend on a sunny day, chatting about life. Laughing and reminiscing. This activity alone would cover elements 1, 3, 5 and 6. These elements seem simple enough, but as we all know, to do these it takes discipline and consistency. But aren’t we worth the effort?


This plan can seemingly not only help to benefit our minds but our bodies as well. I have not yet implemented this into my life, but I plan to. It seems to be a program with very limited negative effects if any. It is simply a lifestyle modification. If you are interested in incorporating these elements into your life and are currently taking an anti-depressant, do not stop. As always, talk with your doctor.

If you would like more information, Dr. Ilardi discusses this in great detail in his book, The 6 Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs.

book entitled, The Depression Cure
by Dr. Stephen Iliadi.

The concept of the TLC Elements make a lot of sense to me and it is definitely worth a try. I plan on journaling my experience and will post updates periodically.

If you have tried this already or if you are considering trying this,
we’d love to hear from you.

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8 thoughts on “TLC Elements: Treatment for Depression. Could This Really Work?”

  1. Nice post! I will be very curious about your journaling experience. The biggest challenge for me would be getting 8 hrs of sleep per night because sometimes that’s beyond my control. Good luck!

  2. I think this could work for some people, especially if suffering from situational depression. I feel this is what the doctor would tell you anyway. Surprised drink more water isn’t on there 😂

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