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58 comments

  1. Thank you for all this information. I’m very glad I picked up the new edition of Undoing Depression, even though I read the original twice. It is much more than an update…more than half totally new material.
    Lily-Brooklyn

  2. Dear Mr O’Connor,
    Thank you for Undoing Depression, it is a great source of information and inspiration for me!
    I’d love to recommend it to some of my friends, but unfortunately they don’t understand English. Are there any plans for a German translation?
    Thank you!

    Jessica

    • Hello and thank you for your work. How young can a person be before diagnosed with depression and anxiety? My daughter was only in 6th grade. Your book has been very helpful.

  3. I love your book…. Happy At Last.. I have it in book form and the audio version. I love it.. I wish it was in Kindle Form… Are there any online groups that deal wtih your book subject.. After years of depression, I am finally getting some consistent relief because of the material in your book.. thanks again..

  4. I book-marked your web site ages ago and have only recently taken the time to look at it. I wish I had referenced this resource long ago. So many times I see a passage and think, “Ooo, this looks familiar.” I have spent many years in therapy and the last few under medication and have never really understood what my depression means. Now I think I may actually be able to understand. Of course, I don’t fit exactly into any of the catigories you describe, but I am going to take the time, with the help of your material, to map out myself and use your advice to rise above the semi-comfortable, but limiting plateau I’ve reached.

  5. Found your website today….

    Been struggling with this disease for 15 years now… maybe longer…. so tired.

    Not suicidal…but really sick of living this way… the stigma… feel like I can count on myself to make things better… and feeling because I have “depression” that no “goodman” will ever accept and love me….. life seems long… if this is the way I have to go through it.
    Was single mom for years… and now that they have grown up … still don’t feel like I have the tools or ability to be in a relationship

    Will take time to read you site… and books… I need to believe that I can be different and that I can rely on myself and that others can rely on me too.. I am a good person and don’t want to bring this into a relationship..

    I need a rebirth… I refuse to live my life like this forever!

  6. Dear Dr. O’Connor,

    I love your book Undoing Depression and find it extremely helpful! If I would like to purchase the translation rights for Traditional Chinese, whom should I contact?

    Thank you!
    Abby

  7. Hello Richard!
    Some pages are still blank, like “actions and decisions”.
    I also hope the new edition of Undoing Depression will be available on kindle or as a form of ebook.
    I also wish you monitor a forum where people could share their experiences.

  8. Thank you, Dr. O’Connor, for your humane writings. I’ve now read Undoing Depression and Undoing Perpetual Stress. Both books I found very moving.

  9. I purchased your book three years ago. An event with one of my adult children caused me great grief. I struggled with sadness and feelings of helplessness for many months. My husband and I searched for a guide that could help us through this time. I personally sought professional counseling and have continued off and on with the same therapist until recently. The therapy helped so much.

    I have begun to read your book “Undoing Depression” again with a new sense of understanding. My personal story has many chapters. I am a professional and have recently retired. Not long after I retired my oldest daughter who is a psychologist became estranged from me after 45 years of having a loving and close relationship. I have not seen nor spoken to her in over five years. My therapist suggested that I ask her to attend a session with me to seek reconciliation. She refused and actually told my counselor how to run her practice and that she should recommend drugs to her patients.
    This estrangement has affected my entire family. I know I must come up out of the depression I have felt so that I can once again love my life and be the person I want to be and feel.
    Thank you for writing this book from your own life’s tragedy. I commend you and know that this information will be instrumental in reaching a full awareness of what depression is and what it does not need to be. I just ordered your “Happy Book”.
    I have had great joy in my life and intend to return to that space..

  10. Dear Dr. O’Connor, I heartily agree with your advice to go walking. I walk to work almost every day through Hyde Park in London. I find it mentally and physically therapeutic and the British Hart Foundation says that it helps medically.
    I have been bipolar for over 30 years and have come to realise that depression is when you’re waiting not to do things and happiness when you can’t wait to do things. I thought of this saying when I realised that when I was depressed, I stopped myself from doing things – I put obstacles in my way. When you’re melancholy it’s like when you’re in your garage and the engine won’t start. When you’re content, you’re revving the engine, raring to go. I wonder if you could include this, in some form, in one of your forthcoming books.

  11. I have read and re-read all your warm, scholarly, insightful, and funny books many times. Thank you so much for writing them! May I now plead with you for a further book to guide the depressed, anxious, addicted, and those suffering from ptsd through the minefield that is ‘old age’?

  12. Dr. O’Connor,
    I just found your website. It is very informative. Your personal information lets one know that you have a true understanding of depression. I would like to hear what you have to say about living with a person who is depressed. Helpful hints for the spouse of a depressed person. Any advice would be truly helpful.

  13. Also can you tell me if i can purchase the book “Undoing Depression” in Australia? and where…with thanks. Iam 57yrs.old. Have suffed depression since the 80.s after my last child was born..Youngest of Three beautiful Children..oldest being 30…second beingTwenty eight and youngest turning Twenty Five next week.(medicaition is not enough on its own) We are a Rice Farming Family in Country Australia. I have had heaps of set backs over the years….loosing loveones and tradies are plentyful….i stress out quite often. I would really love to read this Book. Hoping to hear from you.

  14. I can’t thank you enough for writing Undoing Depression. I just ordered it yesterday and really feel I have finally found a Doctor/book who/that explains and understands Major Depression and PTSD. I am not done listening to the book yet but already know I’m a huge fan who finally feels hope!

  15. Dear Mr. O’Conner,
    I have never written a note like this before. Your book is very insightful. I’m worried that my depression has already led to some brain damage. I didn’t know that happened until recently. Sometimes I feel the information though hopeful isn’t helping much as I tend somehow use it to get down on myself even more.
    I’ve been depressed on and off for years. I now believe more on than off. I’m scared that I won’t get out of it. I’m an RN with a bachelors degree. I’ve been having trouble keeping a job, sometimes due to irritability and most recently depression. My self confidence is at an all time low. I I feel I have exhausted my opportunities here in Seattle.
    I’ve been reading your book “Undoing Depression”. It has really good information in it. I see myself in many parts of the book. I’m finding it really hard to take responsibility for myself. Without work I feel I’m spiraling downward. I am incredibly hard on myself with criticism. I’ve been lucky not to have been engaged in drugs or alcohol. Food and television have been my vices. Lately I’ve been eating better and lost 20 pounds.
    I have a supportive sister and girlfriend.
    I lost my mother to cancer twenty years ago this next year. My father had a long history of bipolar disorder. In 2001 he committed suicide by shooting himself. I am not my father. I don’t believe I’ve ever had the manic side of bipolar however, I was recently diagnosed as bipolar. Growing up I’ve always been afraid I would turn out like him. I’m now 52 years old and definitely see some of him in me.
    I have a psychiatrist that has been trying medications but I don’t feel they are helping much. I also have a therapist to talk with. I had a week long hospital stay 6-7 years ago that seemed to help for awhile. I was having job issues then too and was relocated to another area

  16. I find it too difficult to help a depressed person. I feel guilty about it (my father has been suffering from depression for about 3 years now) but when I try to help (by spending time with him and listening to what he has to say) I start feeling as if he was a drowning man trying to pull me under the surface with him. I cannot do this. I have started avoiding him:(. Does anybody have a similar experience?

    Guilty in Prague

  17. Dear Dr. O’Connor,
    I just purchased your book “Undoing Depression”, the 2nd edition, which I purchased off Amazon.com. I have been working very hard in prayer and meditation to be released from long-term depression and anxiety (probably since I was very young ), and the dear Lord led me to your book. I just wanted to say that it is a hug relief for me to find out that, not only do I have so many of the symptoms of depression, but also that my anger, which I struggle with a lot, is particularly difficult for people such as myself to deal with. I have always wondered why I had so much negativity, anger, frustration, etc. including “a feeling of estrangement from the world” watching, as I describe it, as if the world is going on out there, and I’m watching it pass me by.

    I took Paxil for 11 years, and it was a horrendous experience getting off of it. As you said, the drugs just make things worse. Thankfully, I’m doing this cold turkey, and with the help of your book and a lot of prayer, I plan on “undoing my depression.”

    I have just started today the “Mood Journal” and plan to stick to it for a month as you suggest., and I look forward to being able to connect my mood changes with my internal and external environment.

    Again, thanks for the great book which is easy to read, down-to-earth and certainly helpful, especially for me.
    Sincerely,
    Chris Slovacek
    Conroe, Texas

  18. I wish your article on living with someone with depression bothered to acknowledge the huge emotional toll it takes on those NOT depressed, and offered COPING tips. The whole relationship CANNOT revolve around the depressed person. The supporter can do everything right and still fall into depression themselves because they are not getting any support in return. You need to address the situation in a BALANCED way that addresses the needs of BOTH people, not JUST the depressed person.

    For instance, the supporter can be doing all the right things, but constantly hearing how their spouse hates life, hates sex, wants to die, gives up, etc. are huge emotional burdens for a supporter. The supporter ends up feeling beaten, like giving up, etc.

    • I’ve gotten more negative feedback on this subject (Living with a depressed person) than on any other on the website. It seems like there are a lot of people out there who are so angry at their depressed loved ones that they don’t hear what I say (“Living with someone who’s depressed can be one of the most frustrating experiences there is,” etc.) It is very hard. There is nothing you can do to make the patient feel better, but being angry at them isn’t going to do anyone any good. Sometimes you just have to get some distance. Depression is complicated by a lot of personality factors. If the depressed person is totally incapable of expressing gratitude for your care, totally incapable of expressing love, totally self-absorbed, and it’s been like this for years, something else is going on. Are either of you getting help? Can you see your loved one’s therapist and express some of your frustration?

  19. Hi,

    Have only just found your books, but I think I’m going to end up buying them all. Even the amazon previews have provided some relief.

    One little thing. You mention irritable bowel syndrome as a “non-specific” illness. However, after reading Paul Jaminet’s “Perfect Health Diet”, my wife gave up wheat and her IBS virtually disappeared within a week or so. We are sure this is not a placebo effect because she has been “caught out” when eating, for example, sausages, which we later found out have wheat added. Actually, I can recommend “Perfect Health Diet” generally. A lot of our problems, physical and mental, seem to be caused by major failings in the modern diet.

    • Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately not everyone recovers from IBS simply by eliminating wheat. It sounds like your wife had a specific allergy resulting in IBS, but for many people, other factors, including anxiety and depression, are involved.

  20. I like the tips and suggestions you give here for actually “feeling” our feelings. You know, I’m sure, when a person is diagnosed with a mental disorder (such as Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder) they are given medication which in many ways makes it impossible for that person to feel anything, no feelings come through, no good feelings, no bad feelings, it’s just a blank slate inside. So, knowing this, I wonder how a person in this situation would “feel” their feelings?

    • If your medication is making it impossible for you to feel your feelings, there’s something wrong. Unfortunately it’s true that many people who take antidepressants feel a kind of emotional numbness. Maybe you need to reduce the dose, or switch meds, or go off meds completely. Talk to your prescribing MD, and if you get no help, find someone with more experience prescribing for depression.

  21. I have been reading your book and think its brilliant. I’m not depressed and am one of the lucky ones to have only journeyed into the darkness once while caring for my dimentia suffering parents. I ordered your book as it seemed to come to me as an answered prayer. Here is my question:

    I know three people who are very special to me and each suffering from depression. Would sending your book to them with a heart felt note be ok or would it create some resentments and make them less willing to consider your approach. I want to help, of course, but fear I may make things worse.

    I’m in a 12 step program and see the paralleles of how our habitual thought patterns do not serves us well but are so engrained in our daily lives we scarcely even realize we are choosing to think ourselves down the path of despair and discouragement. The point that I keep coming back to, though, is that recovery is a personal journey. No one can tell another that they need help, we can only determine that ourselves. Of course, all three of these beautiful people do know they are suffering from depression. So my fear may be misplaced but I have it and would like to hear your opinion.

    Thank You
    Jodi

    • Thanks for your question. Of course I can’t predict your friends’ reactions. Since you say they all recognize they are depressed, however, it wouldn’t do any harm to simply recommend my book to them as something you’ve found helpful.

  22. I read Undoing Depression more than a decade ago, and it revolutionized my thinking about my depression and helped give me the skills to change my life dramatically for the better. Every one in a while, I slip into old patterns, like I’ve been doing lately. I bought the audio book of Undoing Depression and am experiencing the healing power of this book once again. I have read many books on depression by respected researchers and therapists, but this is the best. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  23. June 29, 2015

    Dear Dr. O’ Connor, I am reading Undoing Depression for the third time. This time I am using a yellow highlighter and reading it slowly. I could not believe how much I missed the first two times. I just finished the chapter on Emotions. I took a break and picked up a book on Adult Children of Alcoholics. I love the idea of the Gremlin Within. It is unique. You gave me hope and you gave me something to put hooks into and that is your book. Thank you for your gift of hope.

    • Thank you for your very kind words, and I’m glad the book has been so helpful to you. I found Janet Woititz’ books on Adult Children of Alcoholics very helpful. Of course we grow up wanting our parents to love us, but we have to learn that if their love is flawed it’s not our fault. That self-blame can be the kernel of depression, and it’s something we really have to pay attention.
      Good luck in your continued recovery.
      Richard O’Connor

  24. Dear Dr. Richard O’Connor,
    my warmest thank you for edition of the book “Undoing depression”.
    I faced with depression or bipolar several years ago.
    First year was extremely hard cause you have new experience and still don’t have enough knowledge to solve all.
    I changed several doctors, was several times in clinic, everyday pills treatment.- it is a long way for rehab.

    Now I feel much better! I live very nice life, I’m full of hopes and believes. It is because I take care of myself and secondly – I red a book of you. That book is giving me hope.

    Thank you so much from the people, who are on the right way against that disease.
    I wish I can tell you THANK you personally, but different parts of the Earth.
    But I’m now thinking of entering the university, I would like to help people as well with the same kind of diseases. USA in that direction the best place. So probably;y, one day can come to tell you thank you:)

    • Thank you very much and I’m glad you found the book helpful. You’re right, recovery is a slow process but taking good care of yourself is at least half the battle. Good luck with the university.

  25. I recommend your books to almost every person that mention depression, anxiety, or addiction to me. My favorite personal favorite is Happy at Last. I bought Happy at Last and Rewire from Audibles, I can not count how many times I have listened to your books, over and over again. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since a young age. These book gave me the insight to actually understand myself and change myself. Thank you.

  26. I have just finished reading Undoing Depression…to me, this is the best book I have read about the workings of this condition so far (& I’ve read many & have had many therapy (not lengthy) sessions over the years. I have been on Prozac for 17 years now. GP’s tried weaning me off twice but always with relapse causing me to take stronger doses each time. I get depressed every couple of months no matter what I do…I just wonder what the long-term effects will be on my brain…do not want to risk another deep relapse. Anyhow, reading this book (could not put it down) helped me understand my situation much clearer…I do believe I have been depressed since childhood but never realized until I spent two weeks in a psychiatric ward during my 50s & 60s …when it occurred to me that I might have a problem. That being said I would like to thank you for your candid discussion, that I could grasp, giving me hope to ‘keep on keeping on’. It often angers me how some people (most) think I can “snap-out-it”…I promised my grown children that I would not take my own life…but many times felt like I needed relief…I’m 72 now & am finally learning to value myself & get past my past. I ordered my own copy of your book to use as a reference when different moods seem to over-take me. I also took from my local library The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon…I put that one down after peeking into your book…his seemed like it went to dark places but I will try & give it another chance. I like to keep an open mind about most things. Thank you again for your enlightening words. You have a new fan here. Sincerely, Paula

    • Thank you for your very kind words. As you know I’m not a big fan of medication, but it’s true that Prozac has been used for almost 30 years now and there are no documented long-term ill effects. So if it works for you, stay on it. I’m on it myself and expect to be as long as it works…
      Another good helpful book that I recommend is “The Mindful Way Through Depression.” Practicing mindfulness provides a way to detach yourself from your depression, as well as a path toward greater wisdom. And of course you should read my new book, “Rewire: Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, and Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior.”

    • In my latest book, Rewire, I talk about how we have two brains–the slow & thoughtful one, which we believe represents us, and the fast & automatic brain, which actually makes 99 percent of our decisions for us, often to our regret. Writing is a good way to engage the thoughtful brain on what we might otherwise do automatically. Keep it up.

  27. This is a very useful website. It gives me some insight into your practice. I’d really like to see the “Living with Stress” section finished – especially because of the “Marriage in Trouble” and “Hasty Divorce” tabs. I might be interested in a consultation, but I’ve had a bad experience with a therapist coaching my husband to divorce me which is what I’m trying to prevent. I look forward to reading your books. Do any of them talk about this?

  28. Your guide for loved ones of people with depression concerns me – in that it seems to encourage enabling the depressed person in their perceived helplessness. Living with someone with depression and anxiety can be exhausting. It is essential for the patient’s loved ones to understand that they are not the cause of the illness and that they must take care of themselves first – otherwise it can feel like pouring all your energy into a black hole of doom. If relationships are going to survive the depression and/or anxiety of one of the partners, it is essential for the not-depressed partners to have boundaries, to clearly state their own needs and see that they are met, to have good self care and a clear grasp of the fact that the illness is not their fault (nor is it their responsibility – no one can “make” anyone else seek treatment or make that treatment effective – it relies on the willingness of the patient to seek and work for help.) This doesn’t mean that we don’t love and support our partners, but jumping in to do everything for them ultimately demeans the person with depression and exhausts and alienates the not depressed partner.

    • I think you have misread me. The constant theme in my work is that the person with depression is responsible for his own recovery. I only urge loved ones to remember that it’s an illness and that the patient is not to blame for having it. Living with someone with depression is not easy. One solution, and here I couldn’t agree with you more, is to keep healthy boundaries. You can’t cure the depression, you can’t even lighten the mood; just don’t get sucked in.

  29. Hello, Thank you so much for your site and books. I hope you will write more on relationships, particularly issues with intimacy, etc. soon. Thanks so much.
    Also, if you write more books and put them on audio, please read them yourself if at all possible. Thank you!

  30. Dr. O’ Connor,
    First, I must thank you for your guidance, insight and compassion.

    To other readers,

    Because of Dr. O’ Connor, I finally have direction and ideas to deal with major depression and anxiety. Although I have been going to a local mental health clinic for over 17 years, none of my case managers and therapists has never once suggested any ideas or books to help with my depression. Because of her limited time with patients at this clinic, my psychiatrist only has time to talk about medicine.

    Although I discovered his books several years ago, I am finally committed to studying Dr. O’ Connors book called “Undoing Depression.” In addition, I will also use his website, a codependent facebook page, 12 step programs for my addictions and a book that will teach me skills on assertiveness called “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty” by Manual J. Smith, Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1985.

  31. I don’t know really how to start this, I’m new here. I’m 27 years old, and from the outside it looks like I have the perfect life. But I have struggled with depression and anxiety and off and on suicidal thoughts since I was 16. But recently, I have become even more depressed and sometimes turn it into anger and I have been even more suicidal than I have ever been. I used to cut, was bulimic, and was anorexic. Right now, I am in a relationship with a man who I love very dearly, but recently we have been fighting and arguing every day. I am going through a lot right now. I have been dealing with physical pain from bulging discs and I have lost almost all my friends and my sisters have grown apart from me. I am angry all the time and completely hate myself and life. I see no reason to live anymore.

  32. Dr. O’connor,
    I feel like I’m trying to get out of a deep depression after having a child I had not planned for in any shape or form. I have good days and I have terrible days… Well now some months later, my significant other has been laid off and he is now very depressed from what I can see and feel. I love him so much, he was so supportive when I was really going through it. How can I, as a depressed person…(?) Help him?? It’s taking a toll on our relationship and I don’t know what to do..
    I have never read your books. I plan on doing so, but I’m desperate tonight .. I don’t know what to do

  33. Wow….describes me to a T!! Always thought of it as a personality flaw. Those thoughts only made the situation that much worse. I’ve hit bottom in these last 2 weeks. Reading this has been a major help and bright spot. Thank You.

  34. Dr. O’Connor,
    I must express my profound experience reading “Undoing Depression.” I’m a young college student in California and I have struggled with severe depression for about as long as I can remember. Counseling, self-help books, yoga, etc. never seemed to work for me. I come from families on both sides plagued with severe mental illness, and I was taught to never speak about it or risk being ostracized. In a pit of horrible and unwavering emotional turmoil, I checked out several books on depression from my library. Twenty pages into Undoing Depression, I felt overwhelmed and started crying. I cannot even describe the relief and self-actualization I felt- I have never read an explanation of depression that hit so close to home for me. Here I was spending my entire miserable and self-destructive teenage life thinking I was all alone, that nobody could possibly understand my complex and bizarre mental illness and that there was probably no hope for me. I believed (and accepted) that it was a matter of time before it got so bad I would have to end my life to escape my crippling anxiety and depression. This book, honest to God, inspired me to get well. I now believe there is a path to wellness for me and I have decided to be honest and attentive to myself so I never end up like my depressed and damaged family members. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this work.

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