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Depression Is a Choice: Winning the Battle Without Drugs Hardcover – October 3, 2001

3.6 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In overwritten, overlong text, Curtiss (Time of the Wild), a cognitive behavioral therapist, author of children's books and contributing writer to the New York Times, etc., explains how to overcome depression without drugs. The suggestions herein stem chiefly from her personal experience: her periods of deep depression, followed by manic incidents that led her, for example, to launch poorly conceived business ventures that lost money. She also, somewhat capriciously, left her husband and children for a year to live in an ashram. She explains how she freed herself from years of ups and downs by following her own program of "directed thinking." According to Curtiss, as soon as one becomes aware of depressed or manic feelings, one must "as an act of will, replace the accidental, unchosen thoughts that have caused the problem with new, positive, neutral or commonsense thoughts or actions." Even in cases resulting from chemical imbalances in the brain, contends Curtiss, it's simply a question of learning how to employ the mind. She feels strongly that prescription drugs coupled with "psychologized thinking" (i.e. the Freudian premise that "the mind and the self... are one and the same") will only mask, not help with depression. Curtiss also emphasizes the importance of traditional family values versus the current pursuit of individual happiness. However one feels about Curtiss's ideas, "directed thought" comes off as a murky offshoot of standard therapy; wading through the author's convoluted thought processes may cause rather than cure depression. Radio interviews.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A number of recent self-help titles enable sufferers to try cognitive behavioral techniques, including Joseph Luciani's Self-Coaching: How To Heal Anxiety and Depression (LJ 4/15/01). Kaplan and Turkington's Making the Antidepressant Decision is a new edition of their Making the Prozac Decision (Lowell House, 1994). The name change accurately reflects the work's coverage of all current antidepressant medications as well as indications for taking them and their side effects. While most of this edition isn't new, a few very important additions make it worth the low price, including a discussion of the newest Prozac-like drug, Celexa, and a chapter on St. John's Wort. Recommended for public libraries. Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (October 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786866292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786866298
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,451,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A. B. Curtiss is an award winning author of twelve books, a board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist, diplomate of the board--psychology, certified hypnotist. Her newest children's book, HANNER AND BULLIES is a middle school favorite--one student's ingenious solution to confronting her school bullies woven seamlessly into a fast-moving mystery novel for eight to twelve-year-olds.

THE LITTLE CHAPEL THAT STOOD was chosen by the Smithsonian Institution as the feature book for its interactive 9/11 Project. It is considered by reviewers and teacher alike as the best children's book ever written about 9/11. The book was declared a historical artifact by Duquesne University and was the subject of a doctoral thesis by M. B. Kerle. The thesis found that after reading the book, school children talked about 9/11 less in terms of death and destruction, and more in terms of the courage and freedom of the American people. It inspired a New York City School Teacher, to start an organization called Youth USA to advocate the teaching of the U.S. Constitution and America's founding documents in all New York City schools. The book was also read to the jury in the trial of the 20th hijacker,making the point that America has never been a victim, not even on 9/11. On that fateful day, everyone pulled together courageously, people risked their own lives to help strangers down the Tower stairs to safety, small children waved "thank you" signs to passing fireman. Even on 9/11 America was not a victim, it proved itself a great nation--"the land of the free and the home of the brave."

DRAGONS GUARD THE ZOO, is a 320 book of read-aloud poetry--weird, witty, zany, and funny poems to laugh at, and longer dramatic poetry so prized by elementary school teachers. Her children's book IN THE COMPANY OF BEARS won a 1994 Benjamin Franklin Award, was featured on a PBS-TV reading enrichment program, appeared on the ABC World of Discovery, was featured in the Border's Books Christmas Catalog and was the best selling children's book of all time in the San Diego Zoo.

Other children's books are: HALLELUJAH, A CAT COMES BACK, LEGEND OF THE GIANT PANDA, A TRAIN YOU NEVER SAW. TIME OF THE WILD was highly acclaimed by the children's book editor of Boston Globe and compared to Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree."

Curtiss' first adult fiction, CHILDREN OF THE GODS, won a 1995 San Diego Book Award. Her psychology book, DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE was published by Hyperion. Her book BRAINSWITCH OUT OF DEPRESSION, winner of a 2006 Best Book Award, further expanded upon directed thinking to create a practical system called brainswitching which can alleviate any kind of depression without drugs. Her books have been translated in 5 languages including Japanese and Russian

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am giving this two stars because I think it merits an extra one for making the radical statement that depression and manic-depression can be managed without drugs. I do agree that many people get trapped in self-defeating cycles of depression and mania, which could probably be broken if they allowed it as a possibility. However, I think that she veers close to Tom Cruise territory, claiming that anyone who resorts to antidepressants is "weak". I've dealt with depression since childhood, but at this point I can't tell if it was genetic or if I just learned the habits and continued to reinforce them in myself into adulthood. It may be a question of the chicken or the egg here. Ultimately I don't think it matters and I tend to agree with the author that cognitive-behavioral therapy can help and that there isn't any proof of such a thing as "chemical imbalance" causing mental illness. There isn't. The fact that brains of depressed people are different than brains of "healthy" people doesn't prove that something organic within the person's body caused the depression. It could just as well be the opposite, that it is the depression that changes the brain.

What bothered me most about this book, though, is that I tried reading it twice more than a year apart and both times got extremely bored by about halfway through the book. Reading about the stupid, rude or irresponsible things the author did before she figured out that she could manage her own mania and depression was not helpful to me in the least. The redundant writing style cried out desperately for an editor. The author also sounded tediously self-aggrandizing as well, leading me to believe that she was in one of her admitted fits of mania when she wrote it.
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Format: Hardcover
I came to look at this book after reading the Author's review of "The Best Awful" by Carrie Fisher. Fisher's book is about a disasterous trip into mania, followed by a suicidal depression that lands her in the mental hospital... _because she went off of her medication_. The author of this book writes the following in her review: "The remarkable thing is that in a culture where manic depression is encouraged by psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies who have formed an unholy, if unwitting, alliance; here's some one who has escaped. Not unscathed, mind you. But free nevertheless.". This statement captured a level of bias that really frightened me. What kind of "freedom" involves running blindly through alleyways in Tijuana, bleeding, fleeing, high on opiates and a crashing mania? Or crashing into a stupor, spending days at a time staring at the wall while your child cries, wondering where her mother went, until your friends drag you away to a mental hospital? Sure, maybe some people, like the author, feel that life is just fine that way -- but I'm sure a lot of people _don't_.

For me personally, finding medication that stopped my bipolar moodswings WAS THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. No amount of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy could "fix" me, until I was in enough control of my moods to actually think reasonably, with a coherent understanding that didn't reverse direction every week. In the author's bio, she speaks of having "left her husband and children for a year to live in an ashram". I couldn't get close to having a husband -- no one ever wanted to stay with me longer than a year; I was too unstable, violent to myself and others. I was not "forced" into taking medication; I went searching for it after years of struggling and failed therapy.
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Format: Hardcover
I waited over six months after reading Depression Is a Choice to reflect on the book and put its principles into action. I can tell you that for me at least, Curtiss is correct--depression is indeed a choice.
By that I don't mean that if something bad happens--we lose a loved one for example--that we can "choose" whether or not to be happy. What I have found is that I get into habits of what I call "despairing": a knee-jerk reaction to give up, get into despair, and get depressed.
That's when Curtiss' technique of "directed thinking" saves the day. I can get myself out of the depressed mood by choosing different thoughts which then change my mood. That's all depression is, after all--a temporary mood that engulfs me because of some thoughts that I'm generating. I am free to direct my thoughts the same way I direct my cursor to tell my computer what I want it to do.
This is not denial of the painful aspects of life. Rather, it's not adding needless suffering by mental self-torture--something I'm all too good at. It requires a certain vigilance and effort to direct my thinking, but the rewards are worth it. I also find it helpful to "let go" of the thoughts that lead to depression. (For more on letting go, I suggest looking into The Sedona Method.)
In a society where most of us avoid taking responsibility for our feelings, where the medical profession is all too willing to pathologize our behavior and medicate us to make us feel better, Depression Is a Choice is a subversive book. I am grateful that the author had the courage to write it.
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