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Active Treatment of Depression

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2003

    Great follow-up to Undoing Depression

    The reading public seems to have become well aware that Richard O'Connor's book "Undoing Depression" is a truly excellent and very helpful approach to understanding and dealing with that powerful negative force -- depression. I want to add a related point, which concerns O'Connor's "Active Treatment of Depression." Although this book is aimed at therapists, I would recommend it also as a follow-up for any reader who appreciated "Undoing Depression." Reading his 2 books in sequence is a doubly helpful process. As psychologists become more aware of how depression is usually embedded in a broader pattern of negativity -- worry, anxiety, pessimism -- readers can benefit from those broader, related insights. For example, The Positive Power of Negative Thinking by Julie Norem updates traditional cognitive therapy with new understanding of 'constructive pessimism' as a cognitive-emotional experience. And, as other reviewers have pointed out, the cognitive therapy classic Feeling Good is still useful today. So don't miss O'Connor's 2 books, and related titles may help with the broader psychological context.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2002

    A wonderful book, not just for therapists

    I bought O'Connor's first book, 'Undoing Depression,' in hardcover when it came out, and I found it immensely helpful at a time when I was suffering and struggling a lot. I have since recommended that book to many others dealing with depression who wanted to learn more about the disorder and what they can do to get better. When this second book came out, I glanced at it, noticed that it was written for mental health professionals, and put it back on the shelf. Some time later I picked it up again and to my pleasant surprise found that most of the material is appropriate and accessible for educated laypeople. In fact, for me, this may be an even better book than 'Undoing Depression' because it has a clearer, narrower focus, i.e. the 'active treatment' of depression, it omits some of the more general background material found in the first book, it squarely emphasizes what the depressed person can 'do' to get better, and because O'Connor's writing and voice are more polished and self-assured. The parts of the book that are directly applicable to the depressive himself or herself are well-written and sensible. The reader comes away from the book with a clear sense of what he or she can do to feel better, and how to deal with the things that get in the way of a person doing what needs to be done, and doing it consistently. For example, O'Connor explains how and why part of the patient doesn't want to get better, and how that problem can be addressed. O'Connor also recognizes that non-directive therapy creates problems for many depressives, and he understands that we often need help from a therapist with structure, organization, prioritizing, and simplifying and getting started on tasks. But the parts written for the therapist reader can be equally helpful. For example, in reading sections on how and why patients resist doing the things they need to do to get well, the lay reader is likely to recognize some of his or her own tendencies, and armed with a better understanding of those barriers to successful treatment the reader is in a better position to benefit from therapy and self-help. This is not a book for non-professionals who have no background in depression. There are other, better books for 'beginners,' including O'Connor's first book. But, for sufferers who want to move beyond the basics and take a seriously active role in their own treatment, I don't think there's a better book on the market.

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