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Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You

Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You

4.2 31
by Richard O'Connor

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Like heart disease, says psychotherapist Richard O'Connor, depression is fueled by complex and interrelated factors: genetic, biochemical, environmental. In this refreshingly sensible book, O'Connor focuses on an additional factor often overlooked: our own habits. Unwittingly we get good at depression. We learn how to hide it, how to work around it. We may even


Like heart disease, says psychotherapist Richard O'Connor, depression is fueled by complex and interrelated factors: genetic, biochemical, environmental. In this refreshingly sensible book, O'Connor focuses on an additional factor often overlooked: our own habits. Unwittingly we get good at depression. We learn how to hide it, how to work around it. We may even achieve great things, but with constant struggle rather than satisfaction. Relying on these methods to make it through each day, we deprive ourselves of true recovery, of deep joy and healthy emotion.

UNDOING DEPRESSION teaches us how to replace depressive patterns with a new and more effective set of skills. We already know how to "do" depression-and we can learn how to undo it. With a truly holistic approach that synthesizes the best of the many schools of thought about this painful disease, O'Connor offers new hope-and new life-for sufferers of depression.

Editorial Reviews

John M. Grohol
Richard O'Connor knows what he talks about in one of the most thorough, comprehensive, and enjoyable books I've ever read on the beast we call depression. As a therapist, a supervisor, an administrator, and perhaps most importantly, as a human being. O'Connor brings more to this topic than a simple recitation of facts and self-help methods. He brings the human experience home to the reader, in a way few writers do in this book genre.

O'Connor warns in the introduction that this is a book filled with stuff that the two distinct audiences (mental health professionals and laypeople) may not ordinarily share. But as someone, like O'Connor, who has grappled with the beast at one point in my life as well, I concur with his recommendation -- the book is best read in its entirety, skipping nothing. Each chapter offers not only in-depth and balanced knowledge and information O'Connor imparts to the reader, but also a good dose of humanity and caring. For instance, interspersed throughout each chapter are personal stories from therapy, and clients' own stories, bringing home specific, important points. It makes what might otherwise be yet another impersonal self-help book (from a mental health professional) into a relevant, useful guide easy to relate to aspects of one's own life.

O'Connor's writing is fluid and down-to-earth; he never gets mired in details losing the main point of his argument or discussion. He gives specific examples throughout each chapter, and keeps everything understandable while not minimizing the complexity of specific subjects. The book seems to have struck a very good balance between information, discussion, and related stories, keeping it interesting to read throughout.

The book is extensive, and its length may be off putting (especially to those currently suffering from depression). But its length is also its greatest strength, because it covers so many topics relating to depression so well. Offering a single guide to depression is a big undertaking, since depression infiltrates so many aspects of a person's life. Undoing Depression, however, addresses nearly every one of the most important aspects and gives sensible advice on how to improve them. The book has 22 chapters covering topics such as: a background regarding depression, what we currently know and understand about depression, how it's diagnosed, what are some of the theories behind it, how people are good at what they know (e.g., depression); how to start overcoming depression by learning new skills regarding out emotions, behavior, thinking, the self, and relationships; aids to recovery; how to put new skills to work through self, work, love, marriage, families, divorce, and community. The four parts of the book are well-organized and logical, and it includes two indices: Organizations promoting recovery, and a self-scoring depression questionnaire. The book ends with footnotes for each chapter, a recommended reading list, and an index.

If you're suffering from depression and have tried other self-help methods, books, tapes, psychotherapies, and medications, and you still seem to be stuck in the depression rut, you should try this book. Take it a few pages at a time, and you will get through it and glean knowledge from it which will almost certainly help you in some aspect of your life. While it won't perform miracles, it may be just what you need to put your depressive feelings into perspective and turn your life around. 358 pages

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Little, Brown and Company
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Hachette Digital, Inc.
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Meet the Author

Richard O’Connor, PhD, is a practicing psychotherapist with offices in Canaan, Connecticut, and New York City. He is also the author of Active Treatment of Depression, Undoing Perpetual Stress, and Happy at Last. For more information, visit www.undoingdepression.com.

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Undoing Depression 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have suffered from dysthymic disorder 'chronic, low-grade depression' for more than 25 years--since I was 14 years old. I've been to years of therapy 'which helped a lot' and taken a half a dozen different drugs--often two or three in combination 'which helped variously, some HUGELY, some not at all, but none for a long time'. I found this book to be an incredibly valuable addition to my arsenal of weapons to use in fighting my depression. More than any other thing I've tried, done or taken, this book made clear to me the role I have to and can play in my own process of being well. It's not sufficient 'for me at least' to take a pill or two, or to go to an hour or two of therapy a week. Hard as it is, ultimately being well requires that I act to be well. And in a completely sympathetic and non-judgmental way, O'Connor offers a detailed theory of how to do that. I recommend this book unreservedly to anyone who lives with depression. It is NOT a cure, but it is a very powerful tool--one that I already use daily and probably will use for the rest of my life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author is quick the point out (and he is correct) that this book will not improve or cure depression by itself. You need professional help for that. Instead, the purpose of this book (which it magnificently addresses) is to describe what the depressed person and the depressed person's family and friends need to be doing to provide the maximum likelihood of overcoming depression. That's a reasonable promise and premise for a book on this important subject, and you can begin to overcome your ignorance (and the harm it can bring) by reading this book and acting on its advice. First, the bad news. Depression is increasing. Worse still, the younger someone is, the more likely that the person will experience depression sometime. Even worse, many people are undiagnosed, and suffer alone with their affliction. Second, the good news. Around 70 percent of all those suffering from depression will improve with either drug therapy or mental health treatments. Those who get both do even better. Third, more bad news. Depression tends to recur for many people. The voice addressing these issues is an expert one. He is a psychotherapist who runs a community health center. More importantly, he has suffered from depression himself. I doubt if you can get more direct access to what depression is all about than from Richard O'Connor. I admire his caring to share so much of his own pain with us, and respect him enormously for this gift he has given us all. Depression is currently under reevaluation. No single paradigm seems to capture all of its elements. Undoubtedly, an improved scientific model for it will emerge. There are signs that it can have roots in disturbed relations between Mother and child, family dysfunction, possibly genetic disorders of brain chemistry (like using up seratonin too rapidly), other traumas, and poor thinking habits. Who knows what else may turn up? Many people try to deal with this problem too much on their own. Families often put up with the depressed person's behavior, not knowing what else to do. Others reject the depressed person, which will usually make the situation worse. O'Connor lays out common sense guidelines that should make a diference: for depressed people, for those who care about them, and for those who treat them. The author sees depression as a disease and as a social problem, 'an illness to be treated professionally and a failure of adaptation that we must overcome through self-determinination.' He outlines important principles for the depressed person: (1) Feel your feelings (depression is the suppression of feelings -- acknowledging those feelings often causes depression to improve). (2) Realize that nothing comes out of the blue (your depressed state has a root cause that you should look for in an event or situation). (3) Challenge your depressed thinking by questioning your assumptions, especially ones that center on meaningless perfectionism. (4) Establish priorities so that your energies go into what will be on what's most important to you. (5) Communicate as directly as possible to everyone around you. Depressed people are often poor communicators who don't get their emotional needs served. With better communication, they can experience a more supportive emotional environment. (6) Take care of your self. Learn to enjoy yourself. (7) Take and expect the right responsibility for yourself -- for your own actions. Depressed people often feel guilty about things that they have no responsibility for (like the death of a parent or the divorce of their parents). (8) Look for heroes. These role models can empower you to see the way to improve, especially if they were also depressed like Lincoln. (9) Be generous. Helping others puts your own situation into perspective. (10) Cultivate intimacy. This means letting down your defenses so people can see you as you are, and accept you for that. Depressed people often feel disgusted with their true selves, and hide that self from
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best advice I could give someone who suffers from depression or who knows someone who does is to get this book. Reading Undoing Depression has brought hope into my life. Whenever I pick it up I find some help. My physician recommended the Web site, which led me to the book. This is one author who knows of what he speaks; he is not only a psychotherapist but is a sufferer of depression as well. And he is a stimulating writer, keeping you interested enough to continue reading even when you are not 'in the mood.' I am so very grateful Dr. O'Connor had the courage to share his personal experience.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. After years of suffering intermittent depression, Undoing Depression helped me realize that I am not alone with my feelings and how I deal with life at times. The author, a fellow sufferer, explains in lay terms the causes of depression and the ways to help yourself deal with future episodes...and get on with your life. It is not a cure-all, as depression can be a lifelong struggle, but there were great practical tips that the sufferer and family members can read to help the sufferer and to help them better understand that depression is a disease and not something that one can just snap out of at the snap of one's fingers. Many kudos to the author for writing such an important book and for talking about a subject that is so hard to understand...especially by those who suffer from it! This is a must read for those who have experienced depression in their lives...be it personally, or with a family member or friend. It gives great perspective to those of us who thought they were all alone with the feelings they sometimes have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read many self-help books and this is definitely on my top 10 list of the best. I found valuable information for myself that I didn't find with so many others I have read. I will definitely come back to this book periodically to review the great information.
kay1_books More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very helpful in understanding what depression is really all about. Deep down I may have realized I was experiencing it, but never understood it fully. Richard O'Connor was very informative in guiding you through depression in an easy to understand method. This book would be helpful whether you are depressed, a family member or friend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I never knew I suffered from depression until I had a breakdown. Then in an effort to learn about my disease I read this book first and I'm glad I did! I could only read a few pages before I have to put it down to digest what I have read. I just never realized I had devised so many ways to cope with the depression over my 40 years, the sames ways all depressives do. My therapist agrees it's a good book, especially since it provides not only insight into the disease but ways to cope with the depression. This book is a great read for the person with depression or the person who wants to learn about someone with depression.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Depression is epidemic in America, and being a personal and professional development coach, I'm stuck not being able to dispense medicine or therapy. What could I do to help my clients? Here it is. Written by a fellow-sufferer, it's full of the kind of personal insight that teaches. Good ideas for managing your depression once therapy and medicine have done all they can. Written in easy- reading English, not full of jargon. Gave me some great ideas!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found O'Connor's book quite original and well-written. I come from the school of thought that the greatest component of depression is biological and is most easily undone by medication. Nonetheless, there is merit to what the man is saying, especially in cases of mild depression. I'd recommend the book to anyone suffering from depression.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. O'Connor is incredibly insightful and describes depression with amazing accuracy. He offers a variety of useful techniques and sheds light on how depressed people reinforce their own depression. But the most healing aspect of this book is it's ability to make depressed people feel understood -- as if he can read your mind. This is because Dr. O'Connor is both a therapist and a recovering depressive. I finally understand what I'm doing wrong AND how to fix it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have deppreson and i cant even tell you how much i cry and how much i wish it would go away:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have expierenced depression i was diagnosed at a very young age at it does suck knowing that depression is inside of me but i have learned ways to help myself and its been a year since i was last in the hospital i will always look at my scars on my wrist as a way of surviving because i almost got away with suicide but my dad stopped me and im glad he did now that i look back but i would recomend this book to anyone who feels hopeless invisable and so on ~sammi~
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Jenn72 More than 1 year ago
I really found this book both validating and helpful. Of course it is not a replacement for therapy but it gives excellent insight to what depression is and how the depressive mind thinks. Some of the exersizes were very helpful.
MovingOn More than 1 year ago
LOTS of information and help about and for depression. Written in language lay people can understand. While giving his own experience and opinion that is down to earth and educated, he also gives info about other view points and ideas without being dismissive. This book could be helpful for both the person newly experiencing depression because of all the easy discussion and is also great for the chronic depressive ready to take control of their life.
RDYREB More than 1 year ago
a must read especially if you suffer for Depression.This Book was of great help to and some of thing i learn I've been practicing and i can truly say it has help me a lot with my Depression
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