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Happy At Last...a groundbreaking program to get happy and stay happy.

Do you want to live the happiest, most satisfying life possible? Does happiness feel like an elusive goal? According to the most recent developments in psychology and science, the brain needs to be trained to be more receptive to happiness, because staying happy doesn't come naturally. Nor does our society make it easy.

Learn How To Be Happy

Are you suffering from post-holiday blues or wondering if there shouldn't be more in your life? Train your brain to be receptive to happiness and learn the core skills to be happy and fulfilled in today's world.

Happy At Last: The Thinking Person's Guide to Finding Joy

New book by Richard O'Connor, Ph.D.


Our brain does not merely store our experiences. Each experience changes the brain — structurally, electrically, chemically. The brain becomes the experience. In order to break free from the stress cycle, we need to feed our brains and bodies with experiences of mastery, creativity, and joy. Our minds — the way we think about things — have tremendous power to help us rebuild and rewire our brains, power that we too often ignore or use self-destructively. But we can use that power constructively, to build autonomy, competence, and relatedness, and help ourselves step off the stress cycle forever.

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About Depression and this Website

"I want this website to be a place where people can find the tools they need to help them live better. In my work I see far too many people who suffer needlessly because they either don't recognize their own problems or because they've come to believe that their loneliness or pain is normal. We've tried to structure this site from the bottom up, so to speak, in order that people will recognize in our topics the problems they're dealing with, find some help on those issues, and some guidance on getting further help.  

We want to make this a truly interactive site. We don't pretend to have all the answers. If you find something that works for you, please let us know about it. Give us feedback. Suggest articles and tools, and we will add them to the site."

click on book image to read reviews or to order from Amazon.com

"The book, Undoing Depression, was my effort to help people unlearn the self-defeating habits of depression and replace them with more rewarding ways of living."

Read the Introduction


Expanded Office Hours in Manhattan


About Dr. O'Connor


Contents: The complete list of current and archived items

Please note: Although we try to be responsive to requests for help, we are NOT a crisis line and we are NOT an emergency resource. If you are in need of urgent help, contact your local emergency services immediately


162 West 56th Street, Suite 403
New York, New York 10019

117 Main Street
Canaan, CT 06018



Six Simple Steps to Help Fight Depression

• Get help. Don't be ashamed of needing medication, and don't give up until you find something that helps. And see a therapist.
• Identify your feelings and moods. Depression is a self-destructive effort to avoid feeling. Accept that emotions are natural and helpful. Learn that mood changes don't come "out of the blue" — they are always started by an event, a memory, a dream. Use the Mood Journal to identify what starts your mood changes.
• Challenge depressed thinking. People with depression remember and blame themselves for bad events, while they forget about and give others credit for good events. Their low expectations mean they often don't prepare adequately and give up too easily. Worst, they think they are essentially different — damaged somehow — from other people. These are all learned habits of thought that can be unlearned. Pay attention to your assumptions and beliefs.
• Let others know. Depressives fear intimacy more than most people. We put on masks for the world, because we believe our true selves to be shameful, unworthy. But this belief is wrong. When we're with someone we can trust, sharing our thoughts and feelings — even if they seem unimportant — is good for us.
• Take care of your self. Learn to pay attention to messages from your body. Depressives abuse themselves by not eating right, not exercising, then expecting to work 12 hours straight. They will deny a minor ache or pain until they have an ulcer or a chronic back condition. Take time for moderate exercise, eat healthy but delicious meals, and allow yourself some pleasure in life.
• Practice detachment. We spend far too much time and effort trying to control things that aren't worth the struggle. Many things that worry us are really unimportant; we've just gotten overinvolved and lost our bearings. We may find that we're trying to change things that we realistically cannot change. Instead of battering your head against a brick wall, learn to walk away.



Active Treatment of Depression

click on book image to read reviews or to order from Barnes and Noble

"The reader comes away 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." (To read this review of Active Treatment of Depression, click here.)

Read Introduction and Chapter One


Tony Soprano Survival Kit : Undoing Depression Makes the Hit List

Do you live with someone who is depressed? Here are some things you can do to help...


A drama written by award-winning playwright David Rabe, based on characters and incidents in Undoing Depression...For more information and to read the complete play, click here.

The Original Cast: Meryl Streep, Jill Clayburgh, Sam Waterston, Edward Herrmann, Star Herrmann, Henry Gummer, and Lily Rabe

From Undoing Depression:

Self-Destructive Behavior

Everyone gives lip service to the idea that depressed people are self-destructive. After all, suicide is the extreme end of depression. Of milder forms, we say, "He keeps shooting himself in the foot," or "She's her own worst enemy." We romanticize the self-destructive tendencies of artists like Dylan Thomas or Kurt Cobain.

What exactly does this mean, to be self-destructive? Freud originally theorized that depression was aggression, the destructive wish, turned against the self, an explanation which still has some poetic or intuitive appeal though it doesn't tell us much about recovery...Additional excerpts

Are You a Gifted Adult?

Solutions to Problems of the Gifted...findings of GASP, the first Gifted Adults Study Program


The Real Reason You Feel So Bad-- And What You Can Do To Feel Good

Undoing Perpetual Stress: The Missing Link Between Depression, Anxiety and 21st-Century Illness

[Visit the Undoing Stress Website ]

There are two major ideas in the book:
The first is that our nervous systems are not built for the stresses of the 21st century. Though we all talk about "stress," we are largely unaware of just how much unseen stress we are constantly immersed in—stress that affects us in the mind, brain, and body. In an effort to cope, we develop what I call the Perpetual Stress Response—the fight-or-flight response stuck in the "on" position. We become caught in a vicious circle: the effects of stress on our minds damages our bodies and brains in a measurable, physical way; and these physical changes further affect our minds—the way we think, feel, and relate—in an invisible, unconscious way. Physical and mental, observable and unconscious—these injuries reinforce each other, trapping us in a vicious circle from which there seems to be no escape. We feel the effects of the vicious circle of Perpetual Stress in many different ways: as depression and anxiety; as physical symptoms; as motivations for addictions; as dysfunctional relationships; and as empty, unhappy lives.

The second major idea is that, just as our brains and nervous systems are vulnerable to the damage of stress, we have the power to heal that damage by making deliberate choices about how we live. The new neuroscience is showing that the brain is constantly changing in reaction to experience; thus, we can literally rewire our own brains. College students taught to juggle show microscopic growth in certain areas of the brain; the brains of London taxi drivers are enlarged in the areas responsible for geographic orientation. The brain—and the mind—are both much more subject to influence than we ever imagined, and that influence can work to hurt us or to heal us. We can reverse the vicious circle that traps us, and create what I call an adaptive spiral—a progressive cycle in which the changes we make in how we think, feel, act, and treat ourselves all reinforce each other, making change easier, more effective, and more permanent. We can get the observable and the unconscious, the mind, brain, and body, all working together in synchrony, to help us recover from what ails us now and to protect us from future stress.

Antidepressants for Children...Unsafe? A Better Question: Why Are So Many Children Depressed?

The Price We Pay When Medications Too Easily Receive FDA Approval

A Simple Mindfulness Meditation

Gut Instincts


Warning Signals of Depression

Marriage in Trouble
"Marriage starts in a projection. We endow the person we love with the magical ability to make us happy. The more emotionally mature we are, the quicker we realize..." Read more

Depression in Children
"Ten percent of children will suffer a depressive episode before age 12."

Living Well: A full range of everyday problems/solutions to help people learn how to live well.

Choosing a Therapist

What You Should Know about Depression

Self-Esteem in a Culture Where Winning Is Everything and Losing Is Shameful

The Positive Aspects of Guilt

Shame: Destructive or Useful?

Teen Suicide

Seasonal Depression, Holiday Blues, the Winter Blahs. Whatever we choose to call it, some people find it harder to cope at this time of year. Read more about it and find some ways out...

Guest Article: "So Everyone Wants Peace?"


Last Updated: 6/21/09.