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on March 2, 2011
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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on May 1, 2010
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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on August 7, 2012
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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on February 7, 2012
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. Unlike a lot of mental health professionals, he thinks there a a lot of things we can do to reprogram our mind: mindfulness, exercise, understanding and tracking our emotions, detachment...

If there is one aspect of depression that is lacking, it is the root cause of it: your past. O'Connor touches on it very briefly, only to make it clear that it is always the root cause of your depression. But unfortunately he does not expand on the topic.

I personally think that somewhere in our recovery we have to understand and reframe our past in order to get permanently well. It was my own experience, at least. O'Connor does not make it clear: either it is not true for him, or it is, but he thinks the priority is addressing the now.

All in all, I see this book as extremely useful, and I advise you to buy it if you have the slightest suspicion you are suffering from depression.
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on December 13, 2012
I have been battling Depression since 1979; I went for help in 1991 and made some improvements, then again in 1998 on the brink of suicide. This time I began medications and a year of counseling until my insurance ran out.

In the last twenty years, no one suggested to me a book to read. In the last seven years, I spent over a thousand dollars studying and buying books. This book is the most comprehensive of its type. It is practical. I do not think any book can maintain all the answers on this delicate subject. I am going through a third copy of this book because I took notes and highlighted so much that I could not read my older copies.

My second favorite book on depression is called "Understanding Depression" by J. Raymond Depaulo Jr., M.D. A third helpful book is "The Secret Strength of Depression" by Frederic Flach, M.D.

Although I am fond all these books and others, only one author spends a sufficient amount of time on exercise and that is Keith Johnsgard; he wrote "Conquering Depression & Anxiety Through Exercise."

My hope and plans is to become an advocate for others and myself. Every time I think of one book to help someone with depression, it is Richard O'Connor's Undoing Depression that I suggest. The subtitle lives up to itself: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You.
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on October 23, 2013
And I've read a lot of books :-). O'Connor did a fabulous job of summarizing and integrating various techniques that have been developed over the years such as CBT and MBCT. Those topics have filled complete books in themselves, often in such laborious fashion that it's painful to work through because the content can feel completely overwhelming when one is depressed. O'Connor distills those techniques down to simple, practical, daily exercises that the depressed mind can digest. And it works. O'Connor comes at depression with the experience of someone who has been there and truly understands what one is going through. This created a very personal connection for me in reading this book that made the content absolutely relevant to my own experience. Thanks Richard.
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on February 9, 2015
This book really helps. It contains lots of real information that you can immediately use, and it is presented clearly and simply -- easy to access. These things are crucial when you are depressed and trying to find help. I am highly educated and a writer, but in a recent too-long episode of deep clinical depression, I found it hard even to read at all. And this book really gave me some help. So I highly recommend it. If you're depressed yourself, just read one page at a time. If you're reading it for someone else, it will really give you things you can use. Well done.
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on July 5, 2015
My husband has depression and so we ordered multiple books to read. This was BY FAR the best one. I would recommend this to any mental health professional and family members who have a loved one with depression, not just the depressed person. It shows depression as a tangile problem that can be dealt with and not a mysterious situation that is caused by random uncle's visit or because men aren't crying enough (which some of the other books we read said were the culprit). If you want the facts and you want help, buy this book.
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on September 25, 2013
I have been struggling with depression for awhile now and I decided to finally do something about it, so I bought this book. I am not even half way through it and already I feel a difference in the way I'm thinking and feeling. While reading it, I didnt know that others felt the way I was feeling, but it was all right there in the book. I have come to have a greater knowledge of what I'm going through and that there is hope. I would highly recommend this book...its absolutely fantastic and very detailed.
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on February 10, 2010
After several attempts at suicide between 1989 and 1998, I went to the Emergency Room at a local hospital for help. After three hours of waiting and finally talking to a doctor, the hospital sent me to Netcare, which is a county emergency clinic for the mentally ill.

Although I have been taking medication as prescribed, staying off booze & drugs, going to support groups, getting regular exercise, for the last twelve years, I was not making the progress I thought I should be making. I still have not returned to normalcy, so I went to my most recent therapists and asked him if depression caused permanent damage to my brain.

At first, my therapist hesitated in answering my question. Therefore, I confronted him with my findings in "Understanding Depression: What We Know and What You Can Do About It" May 22, 2003) by J. Raymond DePaulo Jr. and Leslie Alan Horvitz.

After I read this book, I was still not satisfied. I again returned to and found the first version of "Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You" by Richard O'Connor, which he wrote in 1997.

Now in 2010, O'Connor outdoes himself again. He not only offers theory, the latest research on the brain, he also provides me the motivation to expect more from recovery.

Reading alone will not work and I am not going to be a sitting duck waiting for the next magic pill from Big Pharma. I must learn new skills that O'Connor suggests. I must practice these new ideas often and consciously, thus making permanent healthy changes to my brain.
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