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VINE VOICEon 20 May 2007
As a sufferer from this illness, I must admit that I found "Overcoming Depression" to be of limited benefit to myself. It provides a detailed analysis of the many possible causes of depression which is informative enough, but not exactly revelatory, and it also proposes a number of possible solutions to the problem which are based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This entails primarily the analysis of the depressed person's thought patterns and the book encourages the development of alternatives to those "negative" ways of thinking. Generally this means "thinking positive", avoiding over-generalisations about oneself ,challenging "all or nothing" modes of thought and avoiding self-bullying.The reader is encouraged to be compassionate to oneself and think of the good things in life rather than dwell on the bad things and avoid getting locked into a downward spiral of self loathing and despair. The book also advocates the writing down of ones negative thoughts and feelings in order to challenge them with more positive ones. The message in the book is not exactly earth shattering and I am sure that most depressed people are always trying to look on the bright side of life and count their blessings.It's just that this most likely will not be enough to shift the depression although undoubtedly it should help. I thought that this book was over-long , excessively verbose, repetitive at times and I didn't like the author's adherence to the discredited "theory of evolution" and his repeated comparison of depressives' behaviour to that of wild animals. I found this book to be of limited use and it didn't really convince me of the benefits of CBT.
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on 20 December 2013
Having suffered periods of depression with occasional hospitalisation in the past thirty years I have been stable and episode-free this past few years, though with occasional "warnings" of mind-change that prompt corrective action being taken. I have basically learned how to manage myself, or at least the need to do so. After one such "warning" earlier this year I bought this book though seemed to improve again by the time it came and just put it on the shelf. After another of my sudden warning dips a few days ago I though it time to become involved in Gilbert's book. But it is not to my taste.

It is so big, nearly 600 pages long. Frankly when I am depressed the last thing I need is a huge rather chatty book with "philosophies" such as the bright idea that systematic compassion is good for you. I feel that it essentially is a book written by a now populist writer in conjunction with an NHS trust wholly committed to the least expensive ways of dealing with illness. Enter "mindfulness" as the now-fashion which along with CBT has swept the boards, both being cheap in that they concentrate on the here and now to the exclusion of all expensive slow therapy; it's corrective behaviourism against psychotherapy again, the latter which is time consuming and labour intensive. Bhuddhism and the philosophy of the Dalai Lama are here cited as having helped many people "for thousands of years" but I do not find its being promoted by an NHS Trust doctor any the less questionable however allegedly exciting is the "new research of the past ten years". Mindfulness meditation routines and CBT are obviously the current routes of choice of the Derbyshire NHS Trust it would seem, and this I hope is of help to many. But I will not be alone in being intellectually resistant to a deal of this, and do not accept that such scepticism is mere negative depressive thinking.

I am in fact not at all against CBT itself having found it useful in conjunction with other medical help. But the CBT book in this series I have found a boon is Melanie Fennell's Overcoming Low Self-Esteem That is a really excellent, eminently practical, cut to the chase book, with no breezy attitudinising or chat or exhortations to meditation etc from the author. I think it's a terrifically helpful book especially for many of us for whom low self-esteem and depression can be and are synonymous. I've bought and given two copies of that away, though make sure there is always one on my shelf. On the other hand if you want a book twice the size with NHS Trust current overview on depression and guides to CBT meditation and "mindfulness" then Gilbert might be what suits you.
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on 6 April 2006
I bought this book when I hit the lowest point of my depression, in an attempt to 'self-help' my way out of it. The thing is that when you are truely depressed, you don't feel like helping yourself, and so although the book provides some helpful insights into depression and its causes, and the ways that thinking can interact with your mood, it was far too complicated and long for someone that was so depressed. The exercises at the end of each chapter are not simple, just trying to learn them consumed so much of the little energy I had.
I ended up giving up on the book and seeking some alternative help from the doctors and a counsellor... which was money much better spent, as I am back to my usual self now.
Depression is so complex, and personal, that often you need an objective opinion that you just can't get from reading a book and attempting exercises on your own. If you are depressed, better to share that with people, rather than attempt to struggle with it on your own.
The book did practically nothing for me. It may be useful for some people, perhaps with mild depression, or even some severly depressed people, but my advice is don't bother with it, get the proper help that you need.
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on 15 September 2014
I'm such a huge fan of overcoming series. Last time I was leaving my local library with about six different ones, just to check which one will be most for me, most to the points I need to hear and understand. And I can tell you that every one of them were just genious. However it all started with developing techniques to help people suffering from depression. CBT is now one hell of a massive approach, with many branches and subdivisions, but the first and basic motive was to help curing the depression.

So that's why this book is the biggest (555 pages) of all, and in my opinion, goes into most deep issues and problems. The text is written with extremely supportive and understanding tone, allowing you to soak the information in most pleasant and insight-ous way possible. In many way, I see it as highly self-help book, and even if the psychology behind it is quite simple, it takes some time to absorb so much info. First chapter called what is depression explains in simple terms which factors or areas of life are affected by it. Then second one called The causes of depression explains simply all the mechanism of thinking, which leads to developing the wide range of problems and issues in life.

Don't be discouraged by the thickness of the book, because when you start reading, pages goes very quickly one after another. Very soon I was quite happy that the book is so long, at least it will give more and more info for very long time. Don't get this wrong, but other titles like overcoming anxiety, mood swings, panic, etc are much smaller book, usually up to 200 pages. And even if all of them are extremely helpful, most of them are possible to read and master within a week or so. And after that, the reading feels repetitive, and a bit boring. They are more of an action books, with a lot of techniques and some theory, and with main aim to conquer problem as quickly as possible.

This book however, goes right to the ground when it comes to theory and expaining principles. Terms like depression, anxiety, panic, phobias, and many more sort of technical terms are very effectively mixed up with the words like emotions, guilt, shame, anger, and so on. So the end effect is the text that gives very clear vision about how the thinking works, and what to understand or do in order to bring desirable outcomes in life. Highly recommend to everyone, who needs to deal with those types of problems.

Later in the book, there are chapters especially dedicated to anger, shame, guilt, frustrations and social problems, where you can dwelve right into deep psychology about human thinking, action and behaviour. With the use of techniques presented inside, the theory and principles explained is applied right away to the range of problems. It's best to read it and see for yourself.
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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 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 17 November 2016
THE best self-help book on depression that I have ever read, this has made a huge impact on my own depression (life-long and resistant to medication) and I really can't praise it enough.
My advice, if you are depressed or are buying it for someone else, would be to buy the Kindle edition first. I did this and read the first few chapters before realising that my very primitive Kindle couldn't show the later illustrations and diagrams well - so I bought the book. The book itself is quite a chunky doorstop - and this is my ONLY criticism of the book at all - I think someone suffering from depression would be overwhelmed by the thought of all those pages and never start reading. I know I would have been, had I bought the 'Flesh and Blood' book first, rather than had it presented page by page on Kindle! However, having read the first few chapters, I was sufficiently buoyed up and motivated to continue reading - which is, I think, a grand testament to the book's effectiveness.
I then found that the 'real' book is very useful in it's own right, for quick reference back to passages and ideas that I found particularly helpful - a Post-It note to mark the spot is easier than scrolling through the Kindle.
If you have a more sophisticated Kindle or e-reader than mine, you may not have the problem with the diagrams - but I would still recommend the electronic version first!
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on 1 August 2012
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is very much in vogue, not least because it is relatively cheap to provide. Politicians and Health Service managers/accountants talk it up. It claims a scientific foundation, but is not dissimilar to the 'new thought' and 'positive thinking' therapies that go back to the late 19th Century. My view is that these approaches can be very helpful, but only to some people.

If you are clinically depressed, this book may help you. I hope so, and it is definitely worth a look. However, it will leave other depressed people cold. It certainly did me. The very thought of the prescribed CBT processes leaves me exhausted.

Also, as somebody trained in philosophy/theology, I think that CBT can be rather glib. If a CBT therapist was to recommend his/her thoughts to me, I might be tempted to refer him/her to Kierkegaard or Sartre.

For anybody who is seriously depressed, this book is worth the few pounds it costs. If, like me, you find it a bit annoying, please take heart. There are other solutions out there!
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on 19 March 2010
To potential buyers of this book

In the last two years I suffered from mild depression after a major incident and the way those people at that period that surrounded me i.e employer, the police and boyfriend at that time. The chose to behave rather abnormal towards me during the aftermath. It really shocked me to the core that I was experiencing horrid people outside of my family. I am not naive enough to say that evil people do not exist, just when you personally experience only then can you absorb the reality of it. I needed to be shown compassion, caring and supportive emotions. In the end all I received emotionally was ultimate selfishness from parties.

I was so distraught I seeked professional counselling and it did assist me rather than not attending. It made me see elements why these people treated me so badly. Asked further question and without discussing it with them. Figure out feasible outcomes to explain their behaviour with my counsellor.

Now two years from passed and I felt upset though not depressed as before. I thought I would approach it differently on this occasion. I would purchase a self-help book on the natural and common disorder we all as human beings will identify and more than likely encounter.

This in comparison is more benefitical to me because it has scientific answers to why the human brain reacts as it does. Like with the counselling within the book there aren't answers for everything. If we could answer every question in life generally we would be laughing.
After explanations withing chapters that seem very long, though it you have the a real interest in the topic you can wizz through them at speed. It made me realise that I am normal to feel depressed after all I have experienced and no one will know how I do unless you have experience the same. What I loathe is people having that reassuring saying 'I understand what your going through' to be kind. I prefer it people admitted that they didn't and re-phrase it as 'I don't know exactly it is like your bad experience, though I am trying to understand. If they use the cliche I understand what your going through during a traumatic time. For me it devalues your sorrow and makes it seem that your making a mountain of a mole hill situation.

Prior to submitting a review. I have already recommended the self-help book to my friends. Personally in comparison with counselling I benefitted more from this self-help book than counselling. Though it hasn't discouraged me from counselling I would balance both. Life is a balancing act with every element.

Worth every page this book!
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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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