Book Reviews

Journal of Ethical Human Psychology And Psychiarty V.15 (1) April, 2013


Journal of Child and Family Studies
 December, 2012
S.E. James

Healing Personal Depression and Anxiety for Good
Jasenn Zaejian, Ph.D.
Related Publishing & Consulting, 2012.
Available at http://tinyurl.com/aqav2pj
Free to veterans.

Total Review, reprint from S.E. James
Anxiety and depression and various treatments for these conditions have long been subjects for discussion among mental health care providers, especially where the use of medications are concerned.  I remember as a young mother suffering from what I now recognize as post partum depression, I was told by a psychiatrist that pharmaceuticals were making talk therapy obsolete, and that psychiatrists would be soon be putting psychologists out of business. Following his advice I began taking an antidepressant, and while it was helpful, there were certainly other interventions that also assisted in my ascension out of the temporary darkness I found myself in. The year was 1986 and a quarter of a century later, my journey has been a roller coaster ride, having many twists and turns, ups and downs, and, and when I was introduced to Jasenn Zaejian’s eBook, I was more than willing to see where it would take me.

Healing Personal Depression And Anxiety For Good: The Only Self-Help Solution You’ll Ever Need is a well organized and educational book, composed of ten chapters with an impressive list of references that allow the reader to delve further into personal areas of interest. Following an introduction that discusses how problems in our interpersonal relationships can lead to depression and anxiety, and how many other factors play a part in mental health, this book is neatly organized into short chapters that contain practical exercises as well as some theoretical information that is explained in an understandable manner. I appreciated Zaejian’s approach to readers who are in need of immediate relief from their symptoms without glossing over the science behind the exercises that are recommended.

Having never read a book in this format before, I was challenged by not having a hard copy to flip through and in fact found it necessary to print the volume to make for easy reading. However, I soon found advantages to the eBook, which the author makes good use of, and used the technology available to me from having the book on my laptop as well.  There are hyperlinks throughout each chapter that, when clicked on, lead the reader to websites, articles and videos that give greater detail to the subjects presented. I found myself researching more about many of the topics presented in the book, which gave me a larger knowledge base to draw from. This gave me the sense that the author really cared about his readers, and wished to empower them, because he was going above and beyond to share his own knowledge and experience and that of the many experts referenced.

Chapter One is titled Sad Numbers. In this introductory chapter, Zaejian presents statistical information regarding the increase in the numbers of individuals who are affected by depression and anxiety. He makes it a point to discuss the rise of these conditions  among the military population. Combat stress and its association with depression, suicide, and post traumatic stress reactions are discussed. Energy related depression, the effects of social-economic circumstances, and bereavement are also addressed in this chapter.

The second chapter, Depression, Nutrition, And Optimal Health, discusses the relationship between food and mood. We are, as the saying goes, what we eat. The quality and the amounts of nutritional elements can have long term effects on our mental and emotional conditions as well as physical. Food allergies, changes in blood sugar levels, and deficiencies of vitamins and minerals can mimic or even cause symptoms of depression. Recommendations for natural supplements are made, and research on Chinese and Auyurvedic herbs is presented. The author discusses the importance of responsible self-administration of any supplement, particularly in the instance of taking prescription medications, which I felt was very responsible and necessary.

Chapter Three discusses in detail the signs and symptoms of depression. As in other chapters, information on resources for suicide prevention is given, which is a good reminder for anyone reading the book to evaluate their own level of depression. Misdiagnosis of depression, guilt as a cause, self-image, grief, and the role of authoritarianism are subjects of this chapter, showing that there are varying underlying pathology behind this condition. I found it interesting and tragic to learn that on the average, people who are diagnosed with serious mental illness have a life expectancy of 25 years less than the average person. In this chapter, Zaejian’s stand against psychiatric medications begins to become apparent, which is  an opinion that I am not in total agreement with. However, Zaejian does not demand strict adherence to his theory, which I found refreshing. So many times, authors of self-help books have an all or nothing approach, and Zaejian manages not to push his beliefs onto the reader. He leads into the next chapter by asking the reader to use their will to begin using the methods in the remainder of his book, and by this point, he has gained the readers trust and garnered hope.

Chapter Four presents the issue of insomnia. Depression and anxiety can be caused by a lack of sleep, as anyone who has had trouble sleeping can attest to, and can soon become a vicious cycle and a source of mental distress. I had decided that instead of just reading and reviewing Zaejian’s book, I would commit to practicing at least some, if not all, of the exercises and suggestions that he presented, chapter by chapter. I found the visualization exercise in this chapter to be very effective in falling and staying asleep and continue to use it regularly, on the occasion that lack of sleep is an issue for me.

Healing Depression is the title of the next chapter. Again the author emphasizes the importance of being committed and motivated to resolve the problem of depression or anxiety without medication, or, if the individual chooses to use psychiatric medications, to practice the exercises in the book in addition to treating the chemical imbalance. I appreciate the encouragement and empowerment that he offers to the reader. Practical exercises are presented, and Zaejian introduces the concept of recovered memories, which are the source of some individuals’ conditions. He also writes about telomeres and how our chromosomes are affected as we age. By far, my favorite part of this chapter was using the hyperlink provided to Youtube and watching the video of the laughing yoga…it is impossible to feel depressed during that!

This chapter also introduces breathwork, which I have become familiar with over the years as a massage therapist. Breaking through our character or muscular armor can be done in a gentle manner that may release powerful yet buried emotions, and Zaejian does an excellent job in describing this. Very thorough instructions are given, yet they not overwhelming. He uses personal examples to illustrate the process in a non-threatening manner and again comes across as a peer or mentor instead of an authoritarian.  I enjoyed the way that this subject was written, as it empowered the reader to find their own pace rather than meet someone else’s expectation.

The importance of aerobic exercise is presented in a simple but scientific manner, on the cellular level and beyond. He entreats the reader to continually assess his or her progression by making use of SUDS ratings before and after each suggestion made in his book. These reminders are great, as they emphasize incremental gains in personal strengths which reinforces the self-help aspect presented. Although it may seem like common sense that exercise is a necessary part to one’s well being, it is sometimes overlooked, and this chapter was a good reminder of the simple things that can be implemented to gain success.

The ability to change one’s thoughts is a key concept in this chapter and integral in healing from depression or anxiety. Again, an empowering exercise is explained. The concepts of up-time and down-time are introduced, which I found to be very informative and useful in my personal life and relationships, particularly with my spouse. Changing self-perception by practicing specific exercises in creating fun and pleasure is discussed. These exercises emphasize assessing interactions with others and recording the outcomes, again, empowering the reader in his or her own recovery from depression or anxiety, and emphasizing the importance of documentation, so that progress will not be minimized.

Chapter six focuses on yoga postures. Since I had committed to trying the exercises in this book, I found myself in various poses that were easily found by following the hyperlinks within the text (but not so easily attained!). I had always thought of yoga as a form of exercise so it was interesting to have a different perspective on it, as a healing modality.

Tibetan Buddhist Psychiatry, Ayurvedic Medicine, Depression, and Anxiety is the title of the next chapter. As a recent student of Buddhist philosophy, I appreciated  Zaejian’s approach to this tradition, particularly his explanation of the history of Buddhism, as well as the introduction to the Four Noble Truths. The hyperlinks to mindfulness meditation are helpful to a reader who is curious to try this technique.

Chapter Eight, the Strategic Healing of Anxiety is a very interesting overview of several different techniques that are used to treat this condition, including tapping, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and thought field therapy (TFT). This chapter describes anxiety as being stimulated by a perceived threat to a value or belief, and explores its relationship to freedom. I find value in the author’s point of view in this chapter, and his accounts of personal experiences are helpful. The section on anxiety reduction using tapping is well presented with many pertinent illustrations.  He goes on to describe the process of using EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) by one’s self as opposed to being led through the exercise by a therapist. In addition, several other exercises are presented in the same manner. I found these exercises to be helpful. I especially enjoyed the exercise based on neurolinguistic programming in which a traumatic event is played as if in a movie theater, with the observer moving systematically from first position to fourth position, effectively placing distance between the event and self. Zaejian is consistent in reminding the reader to rate the levels of feelings using the SUDS rating for documentation.

Relationships, Anxiety and Depression, Chapter nine, is an enlightening chapter which explains how our feelings of anxiety are at the root of relationship conflict. The idea of introjections is introduced and explained in depth, using several examples to illustrate how our pasts influence our relationships. Using the film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf as a study in toxic patterns of a relationship, the author illustrates the communication theory of symbolic interactionism. The concept of bad faith is also discussed, which is defined as a form of self-deception, or the opposite of sincerity. I could really relate to this chapter of the book more than any of the others, because it hit so close to home. I could see that my own destructive patterns in relationships, which I was taught to identify as codependence, are rooted in my character structure and in the introjections that shaped me growing up.

Regurgitating introjects was an exercise that proved extremely effective, although it took a good deal of motivation, dedication, and time. It somewhat reminded me of twelve step recovery work, yet in many ways it was even more helpful than completing a fourth and fifth step inventory. I liked the way that Zaejian noted the importance of not causing emotional pain to others while still continuing to be authentic to one’s self. Intellectually, I can see how this exercise improves the interactions within relationships, and emotionally I have experienced its healing power, since putting it into practice.

Chapter Ten, Putting It All Together in Less Than an Hour Per Day, assumes that the reader has completed the book without trying the exercises within.  I actually used the book as a workbook and completed the exercises contained in each chapter in succession. For someone who is severely challenged by feelings of anxiety and/or depression the final chapter would be comforting, as it explains that just a few interventions can be chosen and even then, used individually so as not to overwhelm. Again, Z uses personal anecdotes and experiences to encourage his audience.

It took me a few months to fully absorb the information contained within Jasenn Zaejian’s book, and to implement the exercises that I found helpful. I enjoyed my first foray into the world of the eBook and found the additional information very helpful and easy to navigate. The author is engaging and sincere in his writing, and knowledgeable in his field. I would recommend this book to anyone who is or is in a relationship with someone who is affected by anxiety and depression. It is an easy read for the layperson and contains enough scientific fact to satisfy the professional.

Available for purchase at http://tinyurl.com/aqav2pj
Free to Veterans



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