on January 10, 2008
This is truly an excellent method of working to accept and overcome the problems of depression.
I have read some of the classic books on depression and cognitive therapy such as David Burns' "Feeling Good", and this is a much more comprehensive approach, based on the principles of cognitive therapy but with the addition of mindfulness.
This approach is also good for people who aren't really clinically depressed but who get caught up in negative thinking patterns and low self esteem: "Why me?" "I'm a loser", "I'll never get ahead", etc...
The book has a great cd with it to teach you exactly how to practice the mindfulness exercises. I hesitate to use the term meditation because people tend to start thinking things like "I can't meditate", "It's too hard", etc... By the time you read the book, you will understand that meditation is not hard at all, it's just a matter of doing it, and it can be done in as little as 3-5 minutes and still be worthwhile. It's not a matter of "contemplating your navel" but rather just learning to BE in the present moment, to watch one's thoughts arise and fall away, to slow down, to look at what is happening in one's body and in one's mind. Nothing at all difficult about it. You can do it. And you will find it worthwhile if you do it for a few weeks.
I highly recommend this book to people suffering from depression.
Another very good book for certain types of depression and anxiety that I highly recommend is "Emotional Blackmail" by Susan Forward, which helped me a great deal.
One more book I will recommend not so much specifically for depression but because it teaches the value and technique of "mindfulness", is Jon Kabat-Zinn's "Wherever You Go, There You Are".
The last thing I will say is that just reading any of these books is not enough! You MUST do the exercises and put mindfulness into practice! You will be glad you did!
on September 3, 2007
I highly recommend this book. I have suffered from depressed for a long time, and I am always looking for new ways to cope with my depression. I found this book to be most helpful in describing useful techniques to deal with my depression. The book is written in very layman language and is easily understandable. To my knowledge the four professionals who wrote this book collaborated their ideas, and came up with a scheme that was relatively easy to follow. I take anti-depressant medications that enable me to get up to "base line", but after that, if I do not have some way of facing every day problems, I find myself in the dump of depression again.
This book helps me to stay up, and not slip back too far into depression. Medications are very helpful, but by themselves, they can not keep one at base line (or what some people call "normal.") Once we reach base line, we depressed persons, need help in staying at that level. The teachings of this book definitely has helped me in this endeavor.
I do not say this book totally cured me of depression (I don't think anything ever will.) However, the information in the book has been a big help to me, and I can cope with depression much better than I did before I read the book.
on October 9, 2007
This is a ground-breaking method in the treatment of depression by combining C.B.T. with Buddhist mindfulness practice. The descriptions and exercises for meditating have helped me to overcome my resistance(s) to practice. I also have discovered "moving meditation" that can be done with walking, swimming, whatever to reach a result that is even more enlightening than classic sitting meditation practice.
I also realize from my past deep depressions that any practice seems hard because it is extremely difficult to overcome "inertia" and cut through the cognitive "fog" symptoms that accompany the disease. Hopefully, the moving meditation practice and some simple cognitive practices described here could be effective even under the duress of a full blown relapse.
This book is also very well written and clearly readable.
on September 20, 2009
I have suffered depression for years. I have been to five "shrinks", been placed on three different medications (not at the same time, of course) to treat the depression and all to no effect. I have read other books on depression but this one is the only one that is actually making a noticeable and positive change in my life. Simply put, the approach works. It takes effort (which is extremely difficult if depression is severe) and practice, but the benefit is very well worth it. I read the reviewer who gave the book a 1 star rating, I can't know whether they actually read the entire book or simply a part of it, or perhaps even completely misunderstood it but from the short note they left I believe it must be the former. It is not, as that reviewer claims, evolution that makes one depressed and is thus "hard wired" (to use their terminology). Rather it is our thoughts and how we react to them. More, it is how we get caught in a downward spiral with old-habit thought patterns when something goes wrong or even if we feel a bit blue that can send us into depression. Recognizing these thoughts and habits and taking a completely different approach to them is key, and how to do that is clearly outlined in this book. As I stated, I have suffered from depression for years and only now do I see hope. Medication did not work for me. The "shrinks" did not work for me. This approach has. I'm only stating my own experiences here, not giving medical advice. The only advice I give here is this: If you suffer from depression, it is worth it to at least try the approach in this book. It's made a difference for me where nothing else has.
on January 18, 2013
A quick caveat to put my review in some perspective. If you are coming to the mindfulness concept cold, then this book might be of great value. If, however, you are familiar with mindfulness, then this book is basically about 40 pages of information on depression, much of which are patient scenarios, and then a long overview of mindfulness practices.
Having already read Zinn's "Wherever You Go, There You Are," I was looking for a book that delved more deeply into depression and specific examples of how to use mindfulness to deal with depression. Instead, the bulk of the book is an introduction to mindfulness with, at least to me, few examples of tying specific mindfulness practices to dealing with specific depression issues.
That said, there is some value to the book, especially in the introduction. I like how the authors emphasize that depression isn't something you can think or reason your way out of and that trying to do so might just make it worse.
In general, this book, like many self-help books, seemed like a long magazine article padded to book length.
on September 8, 2008
I feel very grateful to the authors of this book, having suffered from recurring bouts of depression over the past dozen years or so. For help, I tried several books on cognitive therapy and saw a few therapists who focused on this approach. But, each time, after initial improvement, I ended up in a mental boxing ring fighting with the same old repetitive, negative thoughts. I would try to substitute negative thoughts with more realistic ones, as cognitive therapy encourages, but I soon realized this process would go on endlessly, without any real change. As someone wrote in an earlier review, it was exhausting. It never seemed possible to me that depression could be dealt with at the level of thinking since habitually negative thinking is the main problem in depression!
In "The Mindful Way through Depression," the authors really take the reader to a different level in handling negative, ruminative thoughts and their accompanying difficult feelings. I love the underlying theme of the book: that it's not the content of our thoughts that's important, but rather the present-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and surroundings. Emphasis is also placed on deeply accepting all of these sensations -- not running from them in fear or aversion, but approaching them with gentle awareness and curiosity and allowing them to be there. There's a huge freedom in this, but it takes perseverance.
One point to note: I think it was wise of the authors to state at the book's outset that a person suffering from fairly severe depression should wait until he or she is on the mend before attempting to use the book. Personally, I think trying to do some of the exercises would be very difficult during a deep depression.
Finally, while the book is completely non-secular and beneficial to anyone, it will probably be particularly appreciated by people already interested in areas such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and "Westernized" Buddhism.
on November 16, 2008
This book is an excellent guide for anyone who wants to improve the quality of their life, anyone who has noticed that the mind does not only solve problems but also creates them because we reject the present moment. We may have noticed also that our thoughts judge and reject our feelings and emotions.
The authors offer basic and easy to implement techniques to help us live in the present moment. The present moment is a difficult and misunderstood concept that the book analyzes in a way that makes sense even to a westerner. They illustrate how distorted deep rooted thinking and emotionally reactive patterns are constantly at work evaluating the moment, rejecting it and striving for another moment that will be better, and hopefully replace the one we reject now. But making friends with our bodies is the key because many of the signals that color our opinions about our current situations are streaming in from the body and sensory experiences.
Real change, they point out, can only happen if we overcome these habitual automatic responses to the present moment. When we spiral into a depression or simply a very negative mind state, "our habitual efforts to extricate ourselves, far from freeing us, actually keep us locked in the pain we're trying to escape".
The body is a key player that we tend to completely ignore. The authors really make this point clear when they explain how our aversion responses, the "get me out of here!" reaction to things happening in our lives stems from an instinct ("avoidance system") of the brain that was designed by nature long ago to cope with immediate threats from our environment, such as a lion chasing us. This system now operates not only to external immediate dangers but to our own internal emotions. As soon as we have an emotion that we've been conditioned to label 'bad', we try to flee--or fight it. We are in a fight or flight mode almost continually. But rather than running physically we run mentally with old thinking patterns that try to explain away the feelings. The mental immediately affects the physical, reinforcing its negative input. If you suffer from body aches--head aches, stomach pain, shoulder aches--due to anxiety, this is the book for you.
The authors do a great job of showing how body-emotions-thoughts are linked creating and sustaining various negative feedback loops.
It's a must read for everyone who wants to improve the quality of life.
This book unites four professionals from different backgrounds to present a unique approach for depression self-help: there is a psychologist (Williams), two previous authors of works on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (Teasdale and Segal), and finally, an expert on mindfulness meditation (Kabat-Zin). The varying expertise of this group has produced a practical, thoughtful approach to the treatment of depression, combining classic cognitive techniques with the use of mindfulness, or a sense of non-judgmental awareness of and attention to the present moment. They present a realistic and empathetic portrait of what it is like to suffer from depression, suggesting that the depressed person's effort to problem-solve--usually in the form of critical thinking and rumination--is the very thing which serves to keep one stuck in a negative cycle. On the other hand, Williams et al. argue that cultivating mindfulness allows one to become more open to possibilities, to more easily disregard negative judgments, to stop worrying about the future, to solve problems more effectively, and to prevent future slides into depression by becoming more aware of the early warning signs.
So, how do the authors teach their readers to become more mindful? They start by presenting convincing examples which illustrate the potential power of mindfulness; following this, they move on to simple exercises which allow readers to discover this for themselves. These initial exercises encourage the reader to increase mindfulness during everyday activities such as driving or taking a shower. Moving on from here, the authors review the importance of giving up on attempts to control the mind, incorporating breathing into the practice, and gathering feedback directly through the senses rather than via thought. The book also includes additional exercises, two detailed case examples, and guidelines for an 8-week mindfulness program. Finally, there is an accompanying CD which offers a total of six guided meditation practices narrated by Jon Kabat-Zin: Body Scan, Mindful Standing Yoga, Mindfulness of the Breath, Mindfulness of the Breath and Body, Mindfulness of Sounds and Thoughts, and The Breathing Space.
Overall, this book provides an effective approach for dealing with depressive symptoms. But I would caution readers by noting that although there are plenty of practical suggestions and an array of helpful exercises, the concepts presented here may be perceived as being too abstract for some who are simply looking for more concrete self-help. However, I would definitely recommend The Mindful Way Through Depression to therapists wanting to incorporate the use of mindfulness techniques with their clients, and I also believe that it would be appropriate self-help reading for depression sufferers who have an interest in meditation techniques and/or who are looking for a fresh perspective to assist with managing their depression.
on September 24, 2008
Before I start I just have to say that this book is FANTASTIC and is a really exciting step forward in the treatment of depression. At last - a non-drug approach to one of societies most overwhelming problems: Depression.
As a person who has suffered from depression in the past and as a therapist, I truly enjoyed this book from start to finish. It told me all I needed to know about mindfulness and taught me the process in a very comprehensive yet easy to follow way.
I had read several books on mindfulness by various authors before receiving this book. Compared against the others that I read, I found this one to be the most clear, so even if you do not suffer from depression, but are looking to learn mindfulness, this book could be just what you are looking for. The other bonus with this title is that it is not repetitive like similar titles I have read - it just tells you what you need to know.
Some observations that I would make though are as follows.
1. There were a few spelling and grammar mistakes throughout, however they didn't affect my `reading flow', so this should be an issue.
2. The layout of the separate sections could have been better laid out. It shows you how to follow an 8 week program in the end of the last chapter. I would have liked to seen it laid out so that you read and practice a section at a time rather than learning everything before you start.
3. There is a warning in a couple of places in the book that warn you not to us the program in is entirely now if you are experiencing an episode of clinical depression. This somewhat confused me as the title of the book is `The Mindful Way THROUGH Depression.
4. The book comes with a CD... It was recorded using the voice of one of the authors, Jon Kabat Zinn. The meditation entitled `The Body Scan' seemed a little rushed. As a personal preference, I used an old CD that I had from Jon that was much better quality for me and worked well.
These were the only negative things that I picked up and wanted to include them to make this review as balanced as possible. There were so many things right with this book though that the comments above are small concerns against all the things that you will get out of reading it.
So in conclusion: this book is easy to follow, very inspirational and motivates you to learn mindfulness and overcome your depression. It is simply fantastic.
Author of Self-Change Hypnosis
on September 17, 2007
This book is very different from most books on depression that I have read and there have been many. Most of the books try and help you worry your way through depression. This book says you need to think about other things and realize that everybody is depressed at one time or another but they don't start thinking of themselves as a depressed person. This is one of the worse things you can do. It gives you breathing exercise, to try and live in the moment instead of always feeling bad about the past or worrying about the future. Just that much has helped me. There is cd that goes along with some of the teaching exercises which is very helpful in fact I don't know of too many books that have a cd to go with it or a cd that has a book that goes with it. This book and "Magnificent Addiction" are the 2 best books I have read that help with depression and anxiety. Addictions can many many things including being addicted to depression and anxiety.