Depression: A Major Course

A detailed course addressing 1. What depression is stated to be; 2. A critique of this; and 3. A trauma- and psychologically informed understanding.

The course material is primarily in the form of pre-recorded videos, of which there is one within each module. The slides used in creating these videos are also included.

My course “Depression: A Major Course” addresses what I believe is a common situation among counsellors and psychotherapists, including a dearth of accurate information regarding the medical understanding of and approach to depression.

This can put therapists at a certain disadvantage while working with such clients, since the therapist’s knowledge and understanding of the other professional’s thinking and modus operandi, who is actively participating in the client’s situation – GP/psychiatrist – is generally compromised.

In my experience, there are not many therapist training courses that provide a truly accurate understanding of the medical approach, even though many clients attending therapists will also be attending doctors and taking medication, leaving many therapists somewhat in the dark about an “elephant in the room”, i.e. the parallel medical input into the client’s situation.

In addition to setting out the medical understanding and critiquing this, I also set out a trauma- and psychologically-informed understanding of the experiences and behaviours that come to be diagnosed/described as “depression”.



 

Course contents:

1. Introduction: 06 min 49 sec

Depression – the world’s largest health problem; depression diagnosis rates increasing year-on-year, as is the prescribing of “antidepressants”; depression is a common concern among members of the general public; what exactly is this thing we call “depression”?; is the prevailing view of depression correct/valid/credible?

2. What society’s appointed experts say depression is: 48 min 56 sec

Who are society’s appointed experts on mental health; why are these society’s appointed experts; what do society’s appointed experts say depression is; the global mental health care hierarchy; depression is – a medical illness; a medical disease; a leading cause of disability and burden of disease globally; a mental illness; a mental disorder; a mood disorder; a biological – and therefore, medical – illness; a brain disease/brain disorder; a brain chemical imbalance; a genetic – and therefore medical – illness; a medical illness just like diabetes; endogenous or reactive; there is no cure for depression; what is clinical depression?

3. How depression is diagnosed: 17 min 51 sec

How the DSM developed; the bible of global mental health; how is depression diagnosed?: a box-ticking exercise; diagnosis – the doctor’s holy grail; the DSM and the ICD (International Classification of Diseases) developed in parallel; a brief history of the DSM; major differences in diagnostic practice regarding depression and PTSD; current depression criteria and guidelines relate back to the 1980 DSM III; the nine DSM depression criteria; the DSM is widely assumed to be accurate/ scientific/valid/beyond questioning.

4. How depression is diagnosed, a critique: 01 hr 02 min 52 sec

The nine criteria for depression diagnosis; the DSM as the bible in global mental health; how depression is diagnosed; why five criteria for a depression diagnosis?; “consensus”; “arbitrary”; evidence-based or faith-based?; the hierarchy of mental health professionals; how valid is the DSM? reliability versus validity; the explosive impact of DSM III (published in 1980); How “mental disorders” get included in the DSM; depression as an example of the medicalisation of human distress; no biological markers; what “antidepressants” do; “power imbalances” – the United Nations on mental health; two “total knowledge wipeouts”; a brief history of the DSM; “depressive reactions” included in early DSMs, removed in later editions; now when what “we know” actually means “we now believe” repeatedly resorting to logical fallacies.

5. Depression as a verified medical illness, a critique: 01 hr 11 min 23 sec

Is depression truly a medical illness/medical disease?; what exactly is a medical disease/medical illness?; is depression a verified medical illness/medical disease?; is depression really a biological – and therefore, medical – illness/disease?; is depression really/truthfully a brain disease/brain disorder?; what constitutes a medical disease/medical illness?; key characteristics of a medical disease/medical illness; how a medical disease is diagnosed; the three pillars of medical diagnosis; five verified medical brain diseases meeting the criteria for a medical disease; does depression meet the long-established medical criteria for a medical brain disease/illness; how depression is diagnosed; depression as referred to in medical pathology textbooks; who treats abnormalities of brain function?; brain is depression due to abnormalities in brain function?; is depression included in reputable lists of verified brain/neurological disorders?; who are society’s appointed brain experts?; neuroscience and depression; is depression a medical illness just like diabetes?

6. Depression, a chemical imbalance, a critique: 33 min 12 sec

Depression and brain chemical imbalances – the truth; characteristics of verified medical chemical imbalance diseases; examples of verified medical chemical imbalance diseases; normal and abnormal levels of chemicals; “but Doctor, where does my depression go every Wednesday?”; assertions by society’s appointed experts; false information; “Depression Delusion”; “a false story that took hold in the public mind”; “manifest nonsense”; “tones of absolute certainty”; society’s appointed experts’ ideal position; 85-90% of the public believe the “chemical imbalance” notion.

7. Depression, a genetic illness, a critique: 36 min 58 sec

Depression as a genetic medical illness, assertions from society’s appointed experts; what are genes?; what are genetic disorders?; gene mutation; the criteria for a genetic disease; a typical verified medical genetic disease; genetic testing; what genetic research into depression has found; why no genetic tests are carried out in relation to depression; does depression meet the criteria for a genetic disorder?; the validity of “genetic vulnerability”; the truth about depression and genetics; twin and adoption studies; doctors’ bias towards biology, and why.

8. Depression – a mental disorder/mental illness/mood disorder, a critique: 49 min 34 sec

What is “mental illness”?; three terms used interchangeably; the meaning of “mental”, “psychiatry”, “psyche”; are mind and brain the same thing? Is the brain really the control centre? what brain scans show; “mental illness”/“mental disorder” as constructs – “impossible to define”; the level of validity of the terms “mental disorder”, mental illness, “mood disorder”; what is a mood disorder? The cancelling of context; the medicalisation of human reactions.

9. Depression – Clinical depression, a critique: 31 min 44 sec

Clinical depression, a claimed medical illness; terms used interchangeably; is clinical depression a specific form of depression?; what the term “clinical” typically implies; what the term “clinical” conjures up in our minds; how the term “clinical depression” serves society’s appointed experts; beneath the surface, another picture emerges; what medical textbooks say – or don’t – about “clinical depression”; putting “clinical depression” to the test; bursting the bubble of “clinical depression”; medicalising unhappiness; “a medical intrusion into private emotions”; the “concept” of “clinical depression”; what happens when two courageous Irish researchers test the status quo, the prevailing “wisdom”; annihilating the messenger; applying scientific principles to the concept of “clinical depression”; “they doth protest too much” (William Shakespeare).

10. Endogenous and reactive depression; there is no cure for depression; depression and inflammation: 46 min 06 sec

Endogenous and reactive depression; external or internal causes of depression; depression and inflammation; logical fallacies; the dissemination of false information; how well trained are psychiatrists/GPs/Family physicians in mental health?; the dissemination of false information; how the public become grossly misinformed; “there is no cure for depression”; inflammation – the latest big new idea; misinformation, exaggeration and logical fallacies.

11. Is depression an actual entity, an actual thing?: 25 min 08 sec

The medicalisation of much of human distress; reclassifying large parts of normal understandable human experiences as medical/mental disorders; “there’s no reality to depression” (Dr. Thomas Insel, former Director of the US National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH]); leading psychologist resigns from DSM committees; “I’ve read 50 definitions of mental disorder/wrote one. None are helpful.” (Dr. Allen Frances, prominent American psychiatrist; 50% of people classified as “mentally ill”?; the psychiatrisation of emotional/mental health; disease-mongering.

12.Trauma and depression: 53 min 33 sec

Trauma underestimated and underplayed, “mental illness”/“mental disorder overestimated and overplayed; Dr. Bessel van der Kolk – “psychiatry really doesn’t want to see trauma”; much more than PTSD; Major traumas occur frequently; less obvious trauma can be traumatic (sounds obvious, I know); What is trauma? The high-bar criteria for PTSD; high-bar for PTSD, low-bar for “depression”; Is PTSD really “a different animal”?; It’s medically reviewed, so we can relax, right? Psychology joins in too; being human, doctors too can have their biases; Why four weeks for a diagnosis of PTSD? 100% of a group of GPs favour “depression” over trauma; divorce etc is “simply upsetting”, not traumatic, right?; trauma missed on a grand scale; what if trauma was the basis of mental health treatment?; trauma repackaged as “mental illness”; the origin of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

13. Towards a better understanding of “depression”, 1: 47 min 34 sec

DSM creation – where the power lies; “depression” experiences/behaviours addressed on their own merits; “depression” – what is really going on; seek the “rightness”, not the “wrongness”; seven recurring interlinking themes; a significant role for therapy; accurately understanding their inner private world; wounding/ trauma; the effect of wounding on the evolving self; experiences/interactions and their impact; the emerging child; wounding can occur at any age; shock; distress in many forms; weakened/wounded.

14. Towards a better understanding of “depression”, 2: 59 min 09 sec

Coping strategies/defence mechanisms/protective strategies; regularly misinterpreted as “symptoms” of “depression”; psychic wounding; the purpose of defence mechanisms, and their down sides; why we may choose defence mechanisms; disconnecting from our wounding/distress; the need to be on guard; the range of “depression” defence mechanisms; a simple definition of happiness; honouring and dishonouring ourselves; comfort zones; wounding and changed priorities; needs and need-meeting; short-term gain, long-term pain; little wins/victories; living predominantly on guard; their best solutions; how anxiety is linked to “depression”; why eye contact may be difficult; distancing ourselves from ourselves; why “I hate me”.

15. Towards a better understanding of “depression”, 3: 1 hr 00 min 23 sec

Mindsets; the “I can’t” mindset; “what I have, I (try to) hold”; trust and defence mechanisms; self-fufilling prophesies; beliefs that feel like facts; choice and “mental illness”; the importance of critiquing/rigour; choice and psychosis; misinformation perpetuated; suicide; confusing belief with rigour; widespread misinformation; all human experiences and behaviour are purposeful; levels of awareness in choice-making; underestimating our choice-making; what happened to “learned helplessness”?; learned powerlessness; might every (medical) diagnosis of “depression” be a misdiagnosis?

16. Towards a better understanding of "depression", 4: 18 min 07 sec

Our most important relationship; the wounded self; features of a reduced sense of self; towards either extreme /either pole, rather than the midpoint; why the transition into adulthood can become so daunting; self-rejection and self-abandonment; the challenges of adulthood; distorted sense of self/reality; characteristics of a wounded self; why feeling “empty” makes perfect sense; Mount Everests; internal locus of control; distorted perception(s); not “inhabiting” self; not knowing who/what I am, I don’t know who/what I am not; personal radar systems.

17. Towards a better understanding of "depression", 5: 37 min 51 sec

The “depression” nine criteria revisited; making sense of “anhedonia”; that word, “normal”; the brain as servant, not master; honouring revised priorities; anhedonia, from a trauma- and psychologically-informed perspective; needs, need-meeting and anhedonia; Pandora’s box of unhealed emotions; unintended but predictable consequences; maintaining defences as a major priority; honouring our number one priority.

18. Any other business, 1: 49 min 31 sec

Trauma – minimised, compartmentalised, and re-described; taking the baton and running with it; parallels between physical woundings and psychic woundings; more on psychic woundings; unhealed trauma; the overall “colour” of one’s experiences; consequences – intended and unintended; the human Being keeps the score; background and foreground; the “motorway” of life; a straightforward definition of happiness; the correctness and purposefulness of experiences and behaviours; a psychology of comfort zones; it has to be Plan A; lowered stress threshold; eggs in few baskets.

19. Any Other Business, 2: 38 min 30 sec

The most intimidating age group; wounding precedes psychiatric diagnoses; relativity; inertia and momentum; a balance between anger and tears; helicopter view/ground view; persistence, endurance, determination, will-power; reluctance to initiate; mindsets becoming self-fulfilling prophecies; the pain and grief of “thwarted ambition”; turning on oneself, a common characteristic of woundedness; financial stress; “Seasonal Affective Disorder” – winter, and summer; why used logical fallacies are so seductive; “barristers” for the prosecution – and defence; the de-emphasisation/abandonment of “psychologicalmindedness”.

 

Your Instructor


Dr. Terry Lynch
Dr. Terry Lynch

Terry's own life experiences and his life as a mental health activist, medical doctor, psychotherapist and mental health author have brought him to a level of understanding of mental health that is unusual if not indeed exceptional.

Terry Lynch has played a prominent role in mental health both nationally and internationally. For a nine-year period, he was appointed by the Irish Department of Health and Children to key national mental health groups - The Expert Group on Mental health Policy (2003-6) which formulated A Vision for Change, Ireland’s official mental health policy document; The Independent Monitoring Group for A Vision for Change (2006-9); the Second Monitoring Group for A Vision for Change (2009-12).

Terry Lynch was the only mental health professional to be appointed to the three Groups named above. In addition, he was also appointed by the CEO of the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) to the Irish Health Service Executive's Mental Health Expert Advisory Group (2006-8).

Terry is the author of 4 books: Prescribed Drug Dependence (Kindle, 2018); Depression Delusion Volume One: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance (2015); Selfhood: A Key to the Recovery of Emotional Wellbeing, Mental Health and the Prevention of Mental Health Problems, (2011); and best-seller Beyond Prozac: Healing Mental Distress (2004).

He has appeared regularly in the national media in Ireland and beyond.



Course Curriculum


  1. Introduction
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  2. What society's appointed experts say depression is
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  5. Is depression an actual entity, an actual thing?
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  6. Depression and depression
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