David Walliams has been ‘very, very down’ – top therapist shares expertise on depression

This Morning: David Walliams pays tribute to David Watson

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In previous interviews, David Walliams has said: “I have had struggles with depression. “There have been periods through my life when I’ve been very, very down and it’s been very long lasting.” Penned in his 2012 autobiography, Camp David, the father-of-one – to Alfred, 13 – wrote: “Many people who suffer from depression confirm early morning is the worst time.

“At 4am you are totally alone. There is no one to call. It was not just the terrible elemental sadness I felt, but fear. Fear of death, fear of life, fear of love, fear of everything.” Reflecting back on his experience, Walliams urges people in that situation to “tell your family, tell your friends, and [to] seek help”. Sharing his professional expertise on depression is Harley Street therapist, Christopher Paul Jones. “There are two kinds of depression,” he began. “One is based on a chemical imbalance, and this does not have to have a contributing factor other than that.”

For this type of depression, therapist Jones believes that medication can be useful. “For others, depression can occur after a stressful life event,” he said. As for Walliams, he suggested that the breakdown of his marriage to Lara Stone in 2015 could have been a trigger for him. “End of relationships… all kinds of things can take you to a very bleak place,” said Walliams.

Jones explained that this type of depression “can be linked to negative cycles of thinking”, which can be interrupted. “Catch thoughts as they arise and use a technique to reframe them,” advised Jones. “Over time, a person may feel more in control of their mood,” he added. Jones elaborated: “Medication may also help in some cases, but therapy work can get to the root cause of depression, and change things on a deep subconscious level.”

For some, Jones is adamant that antidepressants, for example, “only masks symptoms”. “I do believe that depression exists, but I think that the diagnosis is overused,” said Jones. “And that mindset work should be made part of our daily life; working on our mind just like we would work on our body in the gym.”

A technique to address negative cycles of thinking

“Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave,” the NHS states.

Considered an ideal treatment for depression, people are shown how to change their negative thought patterns to help improve the way they feel. A CBT session typically happens once or twice per week with a therapist, and there are usually between five to 20 sessions. Each session typically lasts 30 minutes to an hour, with you and your therapist working together to unpick unhealthy thought patterns. You can get psychological therapies, including CBT, on the NHS – find an NHS psychological therapy service near you.

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