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Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You Paperback – January 7, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"An uncommonly thorough and useful guide."-Publishers Weekly

"Undoing Depression is distinguished by its common sense, its humanity, and its absence of dogmatism. It is a balanced and persuasive work that explores the dark predicament of depression, and the pathways toward help. I read it with great admiration."-William Styron, author of Darkness Visible and Sophie's Choice.

"This is a vital and invaluable guide for people who are struggling with depression, as close as a book can come to the curative effects of psychotherapy and medication."-Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

"Undoing Depression is a book that anyone who has ever felt depressed, to any degree, can keep nearby as a useful companion. If you are really depressed, chain it to your clothing. Beautifully written, full of dependable and inspiring information, it offers countless creative things to do in the face of depression without trying to conquer it or win battles and wars. The intelligence in this book is deeply satisfying."-Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and Dark Nights of the Soul

"Essential reading for anyone who suffers from depression. The wisdom in these pages speaks directly to each individual, as if O'Connor knows exactly what we're going through. MDSG runs dozens of support groups each week and at our literature tables this is always the bestselling book. Packed with the latest research and fresh ideas, this new, updated edition hasn't lost the engaging style and compassion of the original."-Howard Smith, Director of Operations, Mood Disorders Support Group

"This up-to-date, clearly written and illuminating book about the nature and treatment of depression is just plain wonderful. I view it as a gift to us all."-Maggie Scarf, author of Unfinished Business, Intimate Partners, and Intimate Worlds

About the Author

Richard O'Connor is the author of four books, Undoing Depression, Active Treatment of Depression, Undoing Perpetual Stress, and Happy At Last. For fourteen years he was executive director of the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health, overseeing the treatment of almost a thousand patients per year. He is a practicing psychotherapist, with offices in Canaan, Connecticut, and New York City, and he lives with his family in Lakeville, Connecticut.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 2nd Revised edition (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316043419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316043410
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

149 of 152 people found the following review helpful By DONALD W HANSON on March 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have suffered under the weight of major depression for well over 25 years. I have been hospitalized twice, taken drugs that never helped, and talked to numerous therapists with a range of credentials. I have never, ever heard depression talked about as it is in this book. The knowledge, and the format in which it is presented, has totally turned my life around. My life is being transformed daily. One of the reviews here called this a first step. I had pretty well given up on anything ever working. This was a last step for me. Twenty minutes into the book, I knew it had something to offer that hadn't been given to me before.

I was diagnosed as a chemical depressive in 1989. Since that time, I've been given many drugs, and many different anti-depressants, that never helped the imbalance. The idea that the depression itself could be causing the chemical imbalance has given me much needed hope. All this time I have been at the mercy of drugs that didn't help. Now, I believe that the imbalance can be turned around, not with drugs, but with undoing the thinking that I've lived under. Just as the author states, drugs and therapy weren't enough to help me.

At this time it has been 3 months since I discovered this book. I have felt better physically and mentally, and been more productive on a daily basis, than I have been in many years. Some may enjoy having their depression presented to them as a complicated demon, the same way it was presented to me for so many hopeless years. I needed to have specific causes, and specific remedies explained to me. I needed for depression to be simplified. I needed for someone to help me understand why it was that no matter what I tried, and for how long, I never could get better and stay that way. No one, not even the professionals, had been able to do that.

This book has saved me. I have so much hope now.
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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been on medication for major clinical depression for 15 years and in the past three years have taken a mood stabilizer to deal with a more recent diagnosis of Bi-polar II. This is the first book of the many dozens I have read that actually gives the reader some concrete strategies for getting better. Sure, medication is the first step in treatment, but after that it is still a long climb to the top of the wellness mountain. In the past, I have employed all the standards such as daily exercise, cognitive therapy, no-junk food diet, rigid sleep schedule, and fish oil. Well, I still had my days of being marginally functional and angry, not to mention apathetic and sad. Along came this book and wow, I am 100% better using Dr. O'Connor's suggestions. I think the difference between his book and the multitude of others is that he has actually been clinically depressed and knows what works and what doesn't. Been there, done that. There is also a list of other recommended books, and in checking those out, I have found some additional excellent resources. Highly, highly recommend if you are willing to be pro-active and steadfast in getting well. It takes a lot of determination and hard work. But your life depends on it, and happiness is worth achieving.
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Shimmura on August 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not sure anyone will read my review since there are over 100 others. But, here goes anyway.
As someone who has experienced depression in the past and one who treats depression in my psychotherapy practice, this is one of the best books on depression I've seen.

Not written with excessively technical language or jargon, the author describes what depression is, how it affects people, how the problem is growing and what the causes are, including what has been learned in recent brain research.

He goes into detail about the skills that a depressed person must learn in order to recover. Therapy and medication can help but it is also the steps that the sufferer takes that make the difference between recovery and having an ongoing problem with depression. Some of these skills include examining one's own faulty thinking patterns and learning how to change them, taking care of one's physical health (good nutrition, exercise, sleep), making use of therapy, meds, self help books, support groups and getting support from family and friends when able to. It's not necessarily a quick or easy process but is definitely worth the effort. I have seen these methods work.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Lauren Bastaparis on February 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As Richard O'Connor states, you won't find many people with his experience, both personal and professional. He witnessed his mother's depression, who ended her life when he was still a child. Understandably, he went on to suffer from depression as well. He chose a mental health profession, allowing him to treat and see many other depressives. In short, he really knows what he is talking about, and it shows in this brilliant and compassionate book.

What I particularly like is the comprehensiveness of depression's consequences, its impact on your body, your relationship, your thinking, your emotions, your addictions, your work, your parental skills .

As O'Connor states, most depressives do not understand they are suffering from this disease. They typically come for therapy because of a crisis in their relationships, an addiction being out of control, or an issue at work. It's only when they are assessed by a mental health professional that they understand that they are truly depressed. Reading this book and recognizing yourself all over the descriptions can allow you to do the very same thing.

This book will also help you to overcome guilt or shame for being depressed. Most depressed people tend to believe they are somehow to blame for how they feel, that they should snap out of it with willpower, or that it is an imaginary disease.
Thanks to Undoing Depression, you will understand that depression has real physical characteristics. Even if the root cause of depression is your past, the consequences of this disease are real, measurable, and very much in the present.

Undoing Depression will also give you tips and methods to overcome depression, and take charge of your recovery.
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