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4.3 out of 5 stars166
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on 20 March 2006
This book helped to completely change my understanding of depression and psychology in general. The biological/evolutionary and social explanation Mr. Gilbert offers for depression is something I have encountered nowhere else, yet is so basic and elemental and makes complete sense. This book clarified and simplified what was for me a dark, scary, overwhelming mystery, and helped me to finally see depression for what it is. I understand now that I'm not randomly and unfortunately afflicted with a strange disease that I'm powerless to affect, but rather all people have the potential to enter a depressed state, and similarly all people, including me, have the potential to live in a state of vitality/normality (whatever the opposite of depression is). It's helped me to see what conditions provoke depression's onset - and importantly, why - and which help heal and restore oneself. What a stroke of luck to have come across this helpful book and this wonderful author.
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on 29 June 2005
I only wish I had read this book when I was twenty, when I was first told to expect to have recurrent episodes of severe depression for the rest of my life, rather than now, at fifty-five. Since my diagnosis I've been reading everything I can get my hands on, and trying everything. Lots of things have been helpful, some haven't, but this beats the lot. It's all here: why people can get depressed, in terms of the evolution of the species, the development of the individual and his or her situation; and, in very concrete practical and sensible terms, what you can do about it. It pulled together a lot of what I'd found out from other sources. Obviously, it's different strokes for different folks, but for me this was a real find.
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on 29 July 2002
Imagine you knew about this wonderful diet that helped the majority of it's adherents to lose the weight they wanted and keep it off, what would be your biggest problem? Convincing people it worked? Imagine also that it involved an incredibly simple technique.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques appear to be in a similar position. Since Beck came up with the principles and developed CBT into a full therapeutic procedure for depression and anxiety, a steady stream of evidence has accumulated to support it's validity. On the other hand, the technique is so simple that the hardest part can often be convincing people that it could ever work.
CBT in a nutshell:
1. Depression and anxiety are caused and perpetuated by negative automatic thoughts which are overgeneralised, unrealistic and negative. e.g. "My boss just ignored me when she came in this morning. If she valued me as part of the team, she'd smile at me. She must be going to fire me. I'm a failure."
2. CBT involves nailing down these thoughts, thinking up alternative realistic constructive thoughts and writing it all down. "My boss did not speak to me this morning but this does not mean she does not value me. She normally smiles at me and I have not done anything for her to be displeased with me. It's upsetting to be ignored but it does not reflect on me as a person, she is probably just in a bad mood."
CBT is mostly about writing down stuff like that. Sounds simple and it is. Once you get your head round that, the next mountain to climb is finding and pinning down those negative thoughts. It's not rocket science, it's just a big head-f**k for most people to face the negative ideas that we instinctively want to run away from. e.g. "I'm a failure." It's the kind of thing that can take trained therapists weeks of hard slog with patients to achieve.
Overcoming Depression is a book that sets out to explain CBT techniques and get you to use them. Quite simply, the author does this by a process of hammering on at the same point repeatedly until it sinks in. Not in an obnoxious or unreadable manner, but in a sympathetic way that recognises that these topics are just plain hard to accept somewhere deep in that reptilian centre of our brains. Some of the theory is explained and we're given a tour of the various types of negative thoughts and styles of thinking that can lead to depression. The rest of the book is a very practical step by step guide to what to do about it, with examples and suggestions for exercises.
Paul Gilbert has done an admirable job and as someone who struggled hopelessly with depression until I learnt these techniques, I can thoroughly recommend this book.
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on 6 April 2015
A loved one of mine suffers from depression and I've found it quite difficult to find resources for those who are supporting a depressed person to understand more about this mental illness. Without a doubt if you love someone who suffers from this debilitating condition, you can struggle to understand and relate to them, let alone know how to approach the problem.

This book is incredibly insightful and has helped me a lot to understand the condition and particular psychological issues like guilt. It is easy to understand and follow with various chapters that can be read separately. I know that I am no professional, but someone who is depressed may struggle to reach out for help and it may take time for them to make time to read this book. However, by you reading this too, you can help by suggesting ways or reading out parts of the book that could help relieve some of those suffocating thoughts that depression manifests.

I love that Prof Gilbert as part of CBT advocates writing thoughts and feelings down as a way of monitoring the condition, while teaching yourself to notice the dangerous signals of thoughts spiraling out of control. As a diary writer for many years, I personally find this essential when going through a rough emotional time with yourself or things around. And, I'm sure for those who are depressed it would benefit them even more. I would definitely recommend anyone who suffers from depression or anyone who wants to understand the illness more to read this.

Unforunately the quality of the book I received wasn't great although it was in a 'very good condition'. The binding had broken so pages would soon fall out of the book.
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on 22 November 2007
I have fought against depression for the past 10 years and read many books on the subject. In my opinion, this is by far the best. It is very clearly set out and easy to follow. I have reread it myself several times and recommended it to friends suffering from depression. Well worth the money.
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VINE VOICEon 13 January 2003
It has become a matter of extreme importance for me to contribute some lines about this book. For this is a manual for our times (with regard to the mind, at least) which no one should be without, happy, sad or depressed. Professor Gilbert's insights into the way we think are peerless and jump out at you from literally every page. I suspect everybody who begins to read this will soon identify with a great deal, and if they don't the chances are that it will help them to understand someone close to them, if and when the need arises. The kind of vivid illumination Gilbert offers is both startling and precious in equal measure. He also writes with a kindness and gentleness that is palpable.
If you have the misfortune to become depressed (or even unhappy, which of course is a very different thing) you may well end up treating this book like a comfort blanket and taking it everywhere you go. If you previously didn't know (and cared even less) what cognitive behavioural therapy actually was, then this book will most likely turn you into a convert, pure and simple. And can this man write! Forget the Queen, this is the person I'd most want to meet.
My only disappointment is the unforgiveably po-faced title and a cover design that does Gilbert no service at all and would be more at home on a supermarket cardboard box. Thus is his publisher depriving him of readers. For both reasons you will want to wrap it in brown paper before taking it on the tube (but careful you don't go past your stop). What a shame, because this book really does deserve to be in every household, the ever-ready flask of brandy for when you're stranded in the snow.
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on 11 March 2007
Having lived what I always considered to be a rather charmed life, last year I was hit with a depression that lasted for 8 months. I felt as though my whole capacity for enjoying life had been ripped out of me and saw no way of getting my old self back.

My wife bought me this book and it helped me to make sense of what I was going through. However, having tried the techniques I soon gave up as I didn't believe the positive reframing comments that I was making and did not believe that such a method could solve what I considered to be largely external problems. I have to say, I saw no hope for the future at this point.

Luckily for me I found a Chartered Psychologist who, although expensive, helped me to climb out of my depression using the CBT techniques described in the book. The regular appointments meant that I had a motivation to do the exercises even when I thought they wouldn't work, as I needed to be able to discuss them at my next session. It turned out to be the best money I have ever spent.

I am now loving life and it's thanks to CBT. I was off work for a period of 5 months and thought I would never be able to go back to what had always been a career I loved. Now I have returned and feel better than ever. And I never believed it could be possible.

I thoroughly recommend this book and would suggest using it with a CBT practitioner. It gave me my life back.
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on 12 June 2009
First off, I've never been tempted to write a review for anything before. But this book can be so helpful, can make such a difference, that I feel morally obliged to spread the word (ridiculous, yep, but still true).

Buy this book. Please don't dismiss it as just another self-help manual full of empty maxims and irrelevent advice. I've read them, I've found them just as hopeless. Which is why I want to express what a revelation this book has been for me, and I say that as somebody who used to be sceptical of all treatments for depression. This book CAN help you. It does require you to work with it though, and there is so much covered that it may take a while - 4 months later and I'm still learning from mine. But simply having it as a safety net, knowing that if things go awry there is a reliable source of help I can always access, has genuinely transformed my experience of depression. It could do the same for you.

Even if a white coat hasn't tagged you as "depressed", or even if you think you're beyond help, the fact that you're reading this review is enough. I honestly believe anybody and everybody could learn about themselves from this book and emerge a more balanced, reassured individual. I can't say it anymore strongly than that, and so if you're even curious, please buy it. It's worth a shot and I honestly don't think you'll regret it - in fact, I think you might feel obliged to spread the word too.
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on 7 February 2006
I have found this book so helpfull - if only I had found out about it sooner. For the last few years I have had bouts of depression and refused to follow the traditional lines of treatment as I felt that this wasn't for me, but with the support of a cognative behavioural therapist and Paul Gilbert's book and some medication my life has been at it's best for the past 6 years, and at the age of 23 I feel i can now start to enjoy my life and cope with some of those day to day factors in life which used to make me feel like it was impossible to carry on, I have read and re-read this book and continually trying more of the skills and techniques. This book also makes you feel like your not alone, which initially was a huge factor for me, my partner has also read this book and it has enabled him to understand in a meaningfull way some of the difficulties I have had to face.
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on 5 October 2008
I don't think this book is not for anyone who is in the middle of a deep depression though it might help their family and friends to understand a bit of what is going on in their mind. Bu it and save it for when you start to feel a bit better. It also shouldn't just be used on its own but as an extra to the help your GP can give you.
As someone who has suffered chronic depression throughout my adult life I have found this book invaluable. Not only has it helped me to understand what was/is happening to me but has been good to dip in and out of.
There are practical exercises to do, it asks you some very difficult questions and you may find you pick it up and put it down a lot of times before you feel up to reading it but I think this is an excellent book which has helped me through some very dark times.
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