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

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  653 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
This refreshingly sensible book teaches how to replace depressive patterns of thinking, relating, and behaving with a new and more effective set of skills.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Berkley Trade (first published 1997)
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Jun 29, 2008 Doug rated it really liked it
If you or anyone you know has ever suffered from depression, I would highly recommend Dr. O'Connor's book. Reading this book I realized that most people - including those with depression themselves - have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be depressed. The first half in particular offers some especially interesting insights into the psyche of the depressed.

"We confuse depression, sadness, and grief. But the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality - the ability to e
Bill Bristol
Mar 28, 2012 Bill Bristol rated it it was amazing
This the first book that I have read on depression. I like the fact that the author has personal experience with depression, understands the paradoxical elements and behavior patterns of those afflicted and "suggests" courses of action to remediate the suffering of those afflicted. As a son of a clinically depressed parent, I am now getting a broader understanding of what my "Triggers" are which affect my marriage. The author's comments on "Big Pharma" struck a nerve as well. The "Fix it fast" m ...more
Apr 20, 2015 Isabell rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites
As others have said, this is probably the best book on depression out there, certainly the best I have read. It's pretty good at explaining what depression is and what causes it. We learn depression, the author writes, because the skills of depression were at one point necessary for our survival. And everything we learn, we can also unlearn. And to explain the unlearning part, the book launches us into things such as mood journals and some basics of cognitive behavioral therapy.

I think he gives
Jun 02, 2010 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Dr. O'Connor has written one of the best books on depression out there. He helps untangle the myriad of therapeutic approaches to treat depression, and attempts to sort out the conflicts held by many concerning medications. I totally buy his philosophy on "Big Pharma", and the undenialble fact that more people are diagnosed with depression in this country than ever in history because of the milieu of drugs available to treat it, and the push of doctors to prescribe it. He seems to vacillate in h ...more
Timofey Peters
Mar 01, 2015 Timofey Peters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Книга понравилась. Что такое депрессия — эта серая, липкая дрянь, парализующая разум и волю, мне известно на собственной шкуре. Раз в месяц эта гадость выводит меня из строя на несколько дней и ввергает в состояние бездействия и отсутствия желаний. Я интуитивно нащупал способы справляться с этим состоянием и минимизировать последствия. Книга подтвердила мои догадки, добавив научную базу и практику. Читается непросто, местами приходится продираться через «академизмы», не смотря на адресованность ...more
Jun 27, 2013 Robin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best description of depression I have ever read, and I've read a lot of books on the subject. Its particular insight,mentioned by quite a few other reviewers here, is that clinical depression is more a lack of feeling, rather than feeling "depressed" in the sense that the term is commonly used by people who are not depressed. This mistaken view of depression prevented me from recognising it in myself for nearly twenty years. O'Connor also doesn't gloss over the complexities of the condition, ...more
This. Book. It will be going on my "life-changer" shelf. I actually didn't realize I could call myself a depressive until I read this book. As I started reading the very first chapter, I realized he was describing me with chilling accuracy. How did he know I think this way?
What a relief of a lifetime to have a name to call this "way" I've been my whole life.
What a bigger relief to find that this book is FULL of hope that I can change the patterns that have followed me all my life and practical
May 20, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A book worth the read, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who's been around the block in the neighborhood of depression. I found myself numerous times throughout the reading, nodding my head in agreement or stopping to truly reflect a point, that I had never pondered. I find myself agreeing a lot with another reviewer (Doug) who chose this to say from the book itself: "We confuse depression, sadness, and grief. But the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality - the ability ...more
Amy Elizabeth
Jul 09, 2015 Amy Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
This is a deeply intense and moving book. If you or a loved one has struggled with depression, there is no quick fix or easy answer. Plan on taking your time and reading a bit and digesting it.
Rebecca Huston
Aug 18, 2010 Rebecca Huston rated it it was amazing
One of the better books out there on how to deal with depression and how to drag yourself out of the hole. If you think that medication alone will fix you, read this book. If you love or are with someone that is depressed, read this book. I got more tips on how to survive and deal with my illness than just about any other book in the market. Five stars and very deserving of them.

For the complete review, please go here:
Grace Dadoyan
Jan 17, 2015 Grace Dadoyan rated it really liked it
This book takes a systematic approach towards understanding depression and the factors that are in our control. The author has been through depression himself with his own mother committing suicide when he was young, so he speaks from a place of understanding not just theoretically. He says there are 7 things people can learn to control to undo habitual responses that are making matters worse. They are: emotions, behavior, thinking, stress, relationships, the body and the self. He's not complete ...more
Msstacylynn Turner
Amazing! Finally a book about depression by a Dr with depression. This book was like reading the pages of my life. He gets it. The chapters address all areas of depression and help you overcome the habits you have created living with depression. I have re-read this book and re-read this book. It is a self help book for people with depression. Everyone with depressin must read this and all their family members.
This book should be re-titled as "In-depth understanding of Depression/Its causes and effects on a depressive and loved ones"

To be honest, as a depressive, I feel that there weren't much I learned how to "unlearn" depression. I was expecting activities and worksheets. But in fact, this book was very theoretical. The title was rather misleading. Don't get me wrong. This book was good, it's not terrible. It describes depression perfectly and how it affects one person and the loved ones around the
Feb 19, 2014 Deb rated it really liked it
A good read for those living with or have a loved one surviving with depression. The authors speaks from a place of knowing and is able to capture the feelings (or the lack thereof) that come from depression. The science/psychological info is helpful. The suggestions made to help oneself are considerate and do-able.
I found it encouraging to read a book that was able to describe my experience. This would be a book I would hand to my family or friends so that they could better understand what I
Sep 22, 2015 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: lifehacking
Like most people, I have my specific and general shadows. Sometimes they diminish me and my enjoyment of life, or get in the way of goals, projects or connections with others. As a high-functioning depressive who majored in psychology, however, I'm very critical of most therapeutic or "guide book" approaches to dealing with the raft of ideas and behaviors that are associated with what we loosely call "depression." The broad solution for non-biochemical forms of depression is simple: exercise alm ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Petr rated it it was amazing
It has been more than two years since I started reading this book. Since then this book managed to save my sanity at least twice and probably will do so in the future. The amount of red, green and blue color lines almost on every page spread is staggering. I never underlined so much in any other books. It was not always pleasant. There are no magic bullets in it. It’s a true self-help book. But at the very least it can help reader to see what is wrong, how it is wrong and what you can do to chan ...more
Drew Lackovic
Apr 21, 2016 Drew Lackovic rated it it was amazing
This is such a great book for someone struggling with depression, and working their way out of it. Not so great if you're in a black hole, but once you can see the light on the other side, this book speaks volumes towards things you can do outside of medicine and psychotherapy to improve your mental state and help prevent backsliding.
Dec 01, 2011 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
One of the best books I've ever read on the subject. Coming from the unique perspective of a psychologist who has also suffered from depression and been treated himself, he treats the reader with compassion and understanding which I appreciated. The only problem I had with the book is that the subtitle seems inaccurate. To me, the subtitle implies that therapy and medication are perhaps unneeded and that is not at all what the book advocates. He approaches the topic with the understanding that d ...more
Mar 01, 2016 Mohammad rated it it was amazing
Amazing, well-written, deep book on depression, written by a doctor who suffered depression himself. He carefully explores depression uncovering a lot of hidden aspects of the psyche of the depressed. The book touches you and changes how you perceive and understand depression. He offers a full recovery program that works on emotions, behavior, thoughts and relationships and offers insights on how to apply new skills in dealing with your depression. In the end he introduces 12 principles for reco ...more
Mar 27, 2014 Denise rated it really liked it
This was great. It took awhile to read--not that the writing style was difficult or anything, but it just contained so much information and a lot of thought-provoking suggestions. I think this is one I'll buy for the reference shelf. There certainly are a lot of post-it notes in my library copy!
Dec 19, 2012 Georgiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health, recovery, humans
I've dealt with depression on and off for well over twenty years (probably closer to thirty), and read all sorts of books on the topic. But never before have I read anything that really made sense of *why* people get depressed, and why it gets harder and harder to avoid the downward spiral the more times you've been sucked in. The only reason why I didn't give it five stars is that the author does take a bit of a preachy tone sometimes, especially when he's talking about how the ills of modern s ...more
Jul 29, 2015 Maria rated it it was amazing
I've had depression most of my life, but the author puts it in such simple but profound language. I have come to some amazing insights through this book. I would especially recommend it to close friends and family.
Jul 06, 2013 Will rated it liked it
Self-help is not a genre I enjoy, so the fact that I read this entire book speaks in its favor. The author is a professional therapist who has personally suffered from depression, so he has both knowledge and experience of the condition. He also writes clearly. But I ultimately found, as I have with most other self-help books, that the advice could be distilled into common sense: eat well, sleep well, exercise regularly. He also emphasizes the benefits of meditation, which is intriguing (if myst ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2014
Very helpful book for me. I probably should own this.
Jan 22, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Extremely useful. Implementing helpful strategies of any kind is virtually impossible when really deeply depressed, and this book can't fix that. But if used in a not-as-terribly-bad period I think it can enable improvement, reduce the frequency of recurrence, and lessen the intensity of future depressive episodes that do occur. It's gentle, but points out that there ARE things depressives can do for themselves, rather than encouraging unproductive (even if PARTIALLY true) beliefs that justify t ...more
John Gratton
Oct 09, 2015 John Gratton rated it it was amazing
Eye-opening. Figuratively, it saved my life.
Mar 03, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: mental-health
Great resource to change behaviors and cognition
Jun 10, 2015 Tiffany rated it it was ok
This most definitely did not deliver anything unique as implied by the title. It was also contradictory, almost to the point of irresponsible as the book went on. It had some good information at the outset, but his personal biases creeped in as the book wore on, and he was simultaneously harsh on the use of medication and therapy and supportive of it. Based on his descriptions of his own therapy sessions with patients, he did not seem like an effective therapist. I was really unimpressed with th ...more
Feb 23, 2016 Vonda rated it it was amazing
Good resource for depression. Gave lots of information and ideas to help recovery and maintenance. I was hoping for a more detailed step by step format that wasn't offered. But the information that was given has been very helpful. There was no spiritual aspect included in the book at all.
Oct 06, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: counseling
What a refreshing perspective on depression! Written by a professional who also struggles personally with depression, I found his perspective intriguing. He doesn't wholly espouse any current theory of treating depression, but talks about how a combination of elements of each coupled with the decision to live life differently are the key to treating (or undoing) depression. A must-read for those counseling the depressed, those who are depressed, or those who have a friend or family member who's ...more
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“I realize now that no simple, single-factor theory of depression will ever work. Depression is partly in our genes, partly in our childhood experience, partly in our way of thinking, partly in our brains, partly in our ways of handling emotions. It affects our whole being.” 9 likes
“If you are treated like dirt long enough, you begin to fell like dirt” 5 likes
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