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Book Review - When Your Body Gets the Blues
When Your Body Gets the Blues
by Marie-Annette Brown with Jo Robinson
Berkley Publishing Group, 2002
Review by Diana Pederson
Jul 9th 2003

What Is the Body Blues?

            The textbook term for the Body Blues is vegetative depressive symptoms. A woman with this condition has three or more of the symptoms listed below to such a degree that they diminish her enjoyment of life and sense of well-being.

·        Eating too much and gaining weight

·        Low energy

·        Difficulty concentrating

·        Sleep difficulties

·        Irritability or tension

·        Daytime drowsiness

·        Decreased interest in sex

·        Mild anxiety

·        Mild depression

·        Heightened sensitivity to rejection or criticism

Source:  Page 5 of When Your Body Gets the Blues. 

Do you feel like I just described you?  Are you a woman?  If so, Brown and Robinson's book, When Your Body Gets the Blues, may help you solve the problem without medical intervention.  Let's take a look at this book's contents.

Part 1:  The Problem

The first 3 chapters of the book describe the problem, discusses the biology of the problem including the fact that women are more affected than men, and describes the LEVITY program designed to counteract the problem without using medication.  The LEVITY program was designed by Jo Robinson after careful research into the problem and interviews with women suffering from this problem.

Part 2:  The Science behind the LEVITY Program

Chapters 4-6 explain each of the three parts of the LEVITY program in detail.  First, the issue of getting enough light in the form of artificial sunlight or outdoor light is discussed. One surprising piece of information presented was the discovery that women actually need more light than men.  Light also has another effect that most women won't argue about:

There is one key benefit of getting more bright light that has gotten very little media attention:  Light alone can help you lose weight.  In fact, this is one of the most consistent findings from phototherapy studies.  After only a few days of bright light treatment, most people begin to eat fewer carbohydrates snacks—even if they are not trying to lose weight. [Page 64]

One of the reported surveys showed that 90 percent of women and only 53 percent of men preferred carbohydrates (this means sweets!) over a high protein snack.  Sweets increase the activity of the serotonin in your brain which makes you feel better.  Unfortunately, this effect lasts only for an hour or so and then you crave more to feel better again.  Needless to say, weight becomes a serious problem.

Walking is another part of the 3-prong attack on the body blues.  This exercise improves the circulation in your brain and modifies its chemical makeup.  Walking was also shown to reduce the effects of stress.  Research shows that walking: increases serotonin and dopamine activity in your brain, increases the blood flow in your brain, reduces tension and anxiety, increases energy, helps you cope with stress better, lets you burn up fat and lose weight, reduces your hunger, and reduces other health risks. [Paraphrased from page 83.]

The final part of this 3-prong attack is vitamin therapy.  The authors studied research and came up with a group of vitamins that have proven to have mood altering benefits for women.  One surprise is that men don't respond as well as women to these vitamins.  A research project was conducted where half of the women received just a placebo (sometimes called a sugar pill) and the other half received a pill containing specific amounts of Vitamin B1, B2 and B6, folic acid, vitamin D, and selenium.  These vitamins, combined with light and exercise began improving their mood within days.

Part 3:  How to Follow the LEVITY Program

The next four chapters (7-10) teach you how to implement the LEVITY program for life.  These chapters help people overcome their objections to the various components of the program.  It takes all three parts of the program to receive the maximum benefits.

Part 4:  Resources and References

Journaling is suggested as one way to keep track of your LEVITY program.  Sources for light therapy boxes, vitamins, etc. are included.  The full text of the report to the Journal Women and Health regarding this study of the LEVITY program on a woman's mood is presented.  You can show this to your doctor if you need to convince them of the value of the 3 steps you have taken to improve your mood.


These authors are pros at expressing scientific information in layman terms.  Their writing style makes this an easy to read book for most people.  Clear explanations are given for scientific facts presented.  I particularly appreciate the fact that they don't send you to the doctor with a list of symptoms.  Instead, you are shown are to improve the quality of your life without needing medical intervention.  Illustrations are used when necessary to clarify the point.  Charts and sidebars present additional information.

I did detect one weakness in this book.  It was definitely written just for women and basically left men suffering these symptoms without any answers.  Perhaps these same researchers could do a study with just men to identify vitamins that will help them too.   


This book leaves me feeling excited about improving my own moodiness even better than antidepressants do.  I am attempting to implement each of the 3 parts of the LEVITY program in my own life as a direct result of reading it.  It is rather unusual that a book of this nature has me out looking for the vitamins suggested and making plans to implement the 3-prong attack on the body blues myself. 

I strongly urge that any woman suffering from the listed symptoms read this book and implement the program in their own life.  It only takes a few weeks to determine if it will significantly reduce the problems for you.  Run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore and request this book if it isn't already in the store.  It just could change your life. 


© 2003 Diana Pederson


Diana Pederson lives in Lansing, Michigan.