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Paul Gilbert

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Paul Gilbert has worked as a Consultant Clinical Pyschologist in the NHS for over 40. years. He is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at The University of Derby & University of Que...

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Who are you?

Hello, my name's Paul Gilbert. I'm professor of clinical Psychology and in this experience, you can ask any question you want to about depression.

What is depression?

Depression is basically a change in our brain state. Now, there are many reasons why we can feel depressed, but when we become depressed, there can be changes in our brain and our body. There can be changes in the way in which we think and see the world and see ourselves and see the future, and there can be changes in the way we behave socially. Sometimes when we are depressed, we withdraw. We don't want to meet people, we want to hide away. So depression really affects all these three aspects of us. It affects our body and our brain. It affects what we think affects our emotions and affects the kinds of things we want to do. So depression is not one thing. We have to think of depression as a complex change of brain state that can affect people in lots of different ways. There are lots of different forms of depression, and so your depression will be, to some extent unique to you.

What are the different types of depression?

There are many different types of depression. So some depressions are what we called single episode. And that means that a person will have one episode of depression at some point in their lives, often triggered by some difficult life circumstances, and that will be it. When they come out of the depression, they won't get depressed again, and that is quite a common form of depression. Another form of depression is called recurrent depression, and that is when people can have more than one episode during the course of their lives and they can come out of it and they can be well for a while, but then they get triggered again. Another form of depression can be chronic. We call it chronic depression, where people can be depressed on and off for quite a long period of time. Some depressions are what we call milder than others. Now, I personally don't like the term mild because when you're depressed, there's nothing mild about it, is it? But some depressions are more severe, some depressions, individuals can carry on with life, more or less get to work, even though it's a struggle. Whereas in other depressions, which are very severe, people can't even get out of bed. They almost become mute, and that depression is very serious and that needs medical help. Another form of depression is called bipolar. Bipolar means there are two aspects to it. When people are depressed, they are unable to function particularly well. They have the typical negative views about themselves and the future, feel incredibly tired, loss of energy, difficult sleeping. But then they can have what we call hypermanic episodes or even manic episodes. And that means that rather than being depressed, they become excited, they become full of energy, they're full of confidence, very creative, and people with bipolar conditions can switch between these two. Now, you might think having the time when you can be full of energy, isn't this wonderful? Well, yes and no because sometimes when people are in those states of mind, they can be quite impulsive and do things that they later regret. So that again, is a condition which often does require medical supervision and help. So these are some of the differences of depression. There's also forms of depression, which are called dysthymia, and that means the sort of a mild depression, and it's sort of chronic, really. It's like it's part of your personality, but all of these depressions that have ways of being understood and they all have ways in which they can be helped. So whatever type of depression you have, there is solutions and there are things that you can do that will help you.

What is major depression disorder? (MDD)

What is persistent depressive disorder? (PDD)