Alec Wilson, PsyD, Individual and Couples Therapist - Portland Oregon

Therapist Portland Oregon Individual Couples

Therapeutic Lifestyle Change for Depression

Depression Therapist Portland OregonTherapeutic Lifestyle Change is a wellness-based, research-supported activation approach for treating depression. When someone is depressed it is important that they do something for their depression, rather than just talk about it. It is very hard to think your way out of a depression. When we act in new ways, we help our mind to shift gears—to jump from its well-worn set of tracks onto a new set. In the context of supportive counseling I will assist you to make the changes that will help you feel better.

Therapeutic Lifestyle Change was developed by Dr. Steve Ilardi at Kansas University. You can read about the program here:

The program is based on the idea that our modern lifestyle puts people at risk for depression for many reasons. Modern life is more sedentary and socially isolated than life was in times passed. Our diet and sleep patterns today are often erratic. And because most people spend so much time indoors at their jobs, our exposure to full spectrum light is low. The five components of the TLC program are all supported by research to help with depression. These components are:


Did you know that a regular therapeutic dose of cardiovascular exercise alone has been repeatedly shown to fight depression as or more effectively than antidepressant medication? Plus, the additional benefits of exercise are experienced even if you are already taking antidepressants. I will work with you to tailor an exercise program that works for you.

Social Interaction

People are social beings. Our need for social interaction varies, but being with other people, especially supportive friends and family, has a huge positive impact on depression. As part of the TLC program, I will work with you to assess your social opportunities and explore ways you can become more socially active if necessary. If social skills or social anxiety are an issue for you, I will work with you on these things first. Often, I run the TLC program in a group format; please contact me if you are interested in being part of a TLC group where you can practice lifestyle changes with the support of others who are doing the same thing.


A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been consistently linked in the research with good mental and physical health. Unfortunately, the Western diet is low in omega-3s. The list of reasons to eat more omega-3s is long and compelling—please do some research online and consult with your doctor if you are not already convinced of the benefits. The TLC program advocates integrating an omega-3 supplement into your diet at a minimum. I will work with you explore options about your diet. If you decide to overhaul your diet in a positive direction, we can work in tandem with your dietitian or I can refer you to one.

Sleep Hygiene

Many people do not get enough sleep, or their sleep is erratic. A good night’s sleep is one key for coping with and moving on from depression. There can be many reasons people don’t sleep well—depression, stress, anxiety, lack of exercise, and the realities of the work schedule are a few of the most common. I can help you explore your sleep routine and we will work on the issues most central to improving your sleep.

Light Exposure

Getting enough regular sunlight can be an issue for people who work indoors. During our cloudy Pacific Northwest winters, it can be an issue for everyone. A therapeutic dose of full spectrum light can help with both mood and, if used each morning, with the sleep/wake cycle.

Each of the components above has been shown to help with depression. Using the TLC program I will help you to integrate these elements into your life. My style is supportive and interactive. For example, I have conducted walk-therapy sessions with clients who are just starting their exercise program and want the support. I have accompanied clients with social anxiety to the gym (and many other locations) as part of a program to help them gain exposure to their fear and reduce it.

If you have questions about the TLC approach to treating depression, please email or call me, I’d be happy to talk with you about it.

Alec Wilson, PsyD


Phone: (503) 757-6259


3050 SE Division, Suite 260, Portland, OR  (In the ‘D Street’ building.)