Review: Starving the Depression Gremlin – a CBT workbook

Review: Starving the Depression Gremlin - a CBT workbook

Depression is an increasingly common issue in children and adolescents. Today we're reviewing Starving the Depression Gremlin - a cognitive behavioural therapy workbook on managing depression for young people by Kate Collins-Donnelly published by Jessica Kingsley Publishing*

This book is part of the highly successful Starving the Gremlin series. In this version, the author focuses on the issue of managing depression through cognitive behavioural therapy. 

Depression is a huge issue for young people and can often be hidden. With mental health services cut to the bone, finding ways to support young people in their day-to-day lives is becoming increasingly important. This book sets out to become a companion through the journey of depression to recovery.

It pulls no punches and is very clear about how serious depression and anxiety can be. It shows the reader that they are not unusual and not alone. The way in which Kate Collins-Donnelly addresses depression in young people is helpful because it is so accessible. The book is chock-full of practical exercises exclamations solutions and resources, all of which help to make it an essential part of the toolkit of anyone with depression, or anyone supporting someone with depression.

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Accessible layout and explanation of depression

The book is sectioned into simple descriptive chapters enabling the reader to go straight to the part they need. There is a good description of the nature and types of depression, as well as some very helpful information about what can trigger this debilitating disease. What I also found helpful was a section that highlights the effect of depression on a young person's life and close relationships. Depression by its nature is self-focused and it is refreshing to see that the issue of the impact on of the depression on the young person's relationships is discussed.

However, the main value of the book is in the simple and yet highly effective interventions which are detailed with helpful and accessible diagrams. This is a book to be scribbled in and made one’s own. There are plenty of strategies and exercises which will undoubtedly make a difference immediately, particularly those relating to breathing and stress. The instructions are not over complicated and yet are detailed enough to be effective.

Starving the Depression Gremlin - a cognitive behavioural therapy workbook on managing depression for young people
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Guiding the young person through their recovery from depression

The book is empowering because it guides the reader through their own recovery, while simultaneously allowing them to become in control of, and responsible for, their own moods and actions. Depression can be a frightening disease and the ability to enable a young person to say that the power to feel better is within them to at least some degree, is highly reassuring.

I tried a couple of the techniques on my own child and I was astonished at how some apparently simple reframing could remove anxiety immediately. One of my children was upset he had the "wrong" lunchbox and from this had decided that he would be laughed at on a school trip. So I pulled the car over and we sat in a layby and practised some of the breathing techniques.

Then when he was calm enough to listen, we discussed whether what he was worried about was actually true. We discussed whether anyone else would be interested in his lunchbox and whether he could tell me what sort of lunchbox other people in his class have. He couldn't! And then without prompting, he laughed and said, "No one cares what lunchbox anyone has.”

After that success we were hooked! I have found the book very helpful as an adult and feel it is also of great use to parents of young people with depression who may well be depressed and anxious themselves. The exercises are effective at any age and can be done with young children as in the case of my son, or with adults. There is no need to read the book from cover to cover, it is just as useful and accessible if one dips into it, looking at specific areas of interest.

The author has researched very well and the relevant clinical papers and authors are referenced throughout. The techniques are based on robust evidence, which is very reassuring. What I really like about it is that it isn't too wordy. Each section is visually appealing and is ideal for someone who is having trouble concentrating-highly relevant in the case of depression. 

I would recommend Starving the Depression Gremlin to anyone with depression and particularly anyone who comes into contact with young people who may be depressed.

You can buy the book from Amazon UK here

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