Is the term ‘depression’ misleading? – Dr Tim Rank, Brighton and Hove Clinic

Depression is a common condition affecting about 10% of the population. Sadly, many sufferers don’t receive appropriate treatment, either because they don’t recognize the symptoms or because treatment is not always readily available. The term ‘depression’ can be misleading as it is used in lay language to mean feeling sad or down, so I prefer to use the term ‘clinical depression’. This is a clearly defined medical illness, characterised by persistent low mood (at least 2 weeks), tearfulness, sleep disturbance, altered appetite, and fatigue, general lack of interest and lack of enjoyment. Thinking patterns become excessively negative and sufferers often become socially withdrawn. For some people, the main features are poor concentration and poor memory, which can adversely affect their performance at work. In more severe cases people start to think that life is not worth living or even have suicidal thoughts.

Sometimes there is a clear-cut precipitant such as work-related stress, financial difficulties or relationship problems, but often people become depressed for no obvious reason. The underlying cause of clinical depression is an imbalance of neurotransmitters, for example, low serotonin levels in the brain.

The positive news is that clinical depression is almost always responsive to evidence-based treatment, which can include anti-depressant medication and/or talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Many people are anxious about taking medication, and whilst there can be some trial and error in finding the correct medicine for an individual, medication can be extremely effective at treating all the symptoms mentioned above. Antidepressants can be prescribed either by General Practitioners or Psychiatrists. CBT is a form of talking therapy that involves challenging overly negative thinking patterns and looking at helpful changes in behaviour, such as encouraging social interaction and exercise. It usually involves seeing a therapist for an hour per week for approximately 10 weeks.

In summary, too many people suffer needlessly from untreated clinical depression, but recent media attention has started to break down the stigma regarding seeking treatment, and hopefully, this trend will continue.

At the Brighton & Hove Clinic, we understand that accessing help for depression can be frightening, so our team of experts are here to support you through this journey in making the best treatment decisions for your particular issues. We have a comprehensive range of treatments available; the first step in accessing treatment is for our expert team to carry out a comprehensive assessment with you and create a bespoke treatment programme that is tailored to your needs.

Dr Tim Rank – Consultant Psychiatrist at Brighton and Hove Clinic

If you would like to know more about the treatments that we offer for depression or you would like to book a consultation, please call 01273 282045 or email