Tim Cantopher: Depression – the Curse of the Strong

“Anyone who gets major depression shouldn’t be ashamed. It’s a badge of pride only worn by the best people.”

Dr Tim Cantopher spoke to both branches of the Williams Project about depression: about its chemical origins in the reduction of transmitter chemicals in the limbic region of the brain, and possible evolutionary explanations for how it might have once been (and might still be) a beneficial adaptation to shut things down in unsustainable environments (lower primates have a similar “hibernation response” when things get too much). He also showed us how the effects of drugs such as alcohol are precisely reversed when used to excess. He explained how anti-depressants work, and how psychotherapy has moved somewhat from psychoanalysis into areas such as cognitive therapy. But his main point was that the kind of people who might suffer from clinical depression are driven, able, successful types who ‘go the extra mile’ – sometimes a mile or two further than is sustainable.

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