Undoing Depression Review- An Eye-Opening Read

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Author: Richard O’Connor

Title: Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You And Medication Can’t Give You

Year Published: 2010

Publisher: Hachette Book Group

Number of Pages: 368

ISBN: 978-0316626439

In the book Undoing Depression, psychotherapist Richard O’Connor analyzes why depression is so prevalent in our society and the steps that we can take to combat it.

From the very beginning, we can tell that this is a very personal book for O’Connor. Not only does he work closely with people who suffer from depression, but he has also struggled with it himself. Stories from his clients as well as his own personal stories interweave more informational text making the entire book feel like a passion project that is full of meaning.

O’Connor explores many aspects of depression in this book. He looks at what exactly depression is and different ways that depression shows up in people. He explains why depression recurs and what people frequently get wrong about treatment.

If you read this book, you will discover what good treatment for depression consists of and you will also discover a multitude of exercises that you can do yourself. This book gives overviews of treatment options, so you may feel disappointed if you are looking for depth. However, O’Connor does a fantastic job of recommending resources for each treatment type.

Who This Is For

This book would be especially great for someone who has recently been diagnosed with depression. It illuminates the big picture of this mental disorder and gives invaluable knowledge for treatment.

This book would also be great for anyone who wants to help someone with depression and wants to learn more. If you are already highly educated on depression, you may find that this book doesn’t give any new knowledge.

What I Love About Undoing Depression (And What I Didn’t)

One thing that I really liked about this book was how the personal anecdotes were mixed in with the more scientific information. The stories were really well-written and really added something to the text. They made the book much easier to read and the main points much easier to understand and remember.

Even though I enjoyed the way that the book was written, I have seen some complaints that the book was too dense and difficult to read. I can see how someone may feel this way, especially in the chapters explaining the science behind depression.

Undoing Depression gives you the tools to start your fight against depression. Photo by Fleur Treurniet on Unsplash

If someone has the exhaustion and overwhelm that is characteristic of depression, this book might be a lot.

If you are concerned about the readability of this book, you should check out O’Connor’s website so you can see how you like his writing style. Undoingdepression.com is also packed with invaluable information about depression.

Another thing that I liked about Undoing Depression was the fact that it is filled with a multitude exercises that you can try on your own. You can seriously start working on your depression with just the information from this book.

However, there are so many exercises that you may experience the “paradox of choice”- you may become overwhelmed by all of the choices and the fact that you can’t do them all at once. It is important to choose to work on one and master one thing at a time.

If, after some time, you find that one exercise is not working for you, move onto another one. Just make sure that you are not jumping around too much from exercise to exercise. It takes time to really start experiencing all of their benefits.

O’Connor’s suggestions for further reading also impressed me. I’ll admit that many books in the self-help genre have suggestions for further reading. Even though further reading sections are common, I am always happy to see them.

I actually became very interested in some of the books that O’Connor suggested and bought a few of his recommendations. I was blown away by how spot-on they were and how much they added to the text. The detailed overview, as well as recommendations for further reading, really made this book feel complete.

This book does an excellent job of tackling the complicated issue of medication for depression. I liked the way that O’Connor approached it because he went in-depth into the issue and didn’t take too much of a personal stance on it. He provides an overview of different classes of medications, some of the history behind them, and gives a great explanation for why medication for depression is not a simple issue.

People who feel strongly about medication, whether they are for or against it, might have an issue with this discussion. However, I think that it is a great section if you simply want to learn about different medications for depression.

Readers may also take issue with the very straightforward, scholarly tone of this book. Some may actually find this depressing on some level and do better with a book that has a more upbeat and optimistic tone.

9Expert Score

Undoing depression is thorough and highly important, but some may find the book difficult to read.

Easy to Read
  • Stories made the content engaging
  • Good general overview
  • Abundance of exercises
  • Excellent recommendations for further reading
  • Possibly too verbose for some
  • Some of the topics are controversial

Get the joy back into your life. Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash

In conclusion, Undoing Depression is a great resource if you have depression or want to help out someone with depression. It does an excellent job of providing anecdotes to go along with the more informational text.

I also liked O’Connor’s book recommendations and ended up buying a few. However, some may find that this book has too much of a scholarly tone or may not like how O’Connor approached the controversial topic of medication for depression.

Overall, this book is an invaluable resource for those with depression (or who care about someone with depression).

Click below to get Undoing Depression  for yourself. The link leads to Amazon.com.


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overcoming depression tips

  1. I love book reviews like yours, and often use them to decide whether to buy a certain book or not. I used to suffer from depression and have read my share of books to help with that. I managed to conquer my chronic depression with uplifting hobbies, books and mainly nutrition. Do you have any book reviews on beating depression with food?

    I believe one should start there, feeding the body healthy foods that feed the brain (where depression resides). I still have some bad days, I call it ‘my little black rain cloud’, but I know that eventually that little cloud will float away.

    • Thanks, Madeleine. I’ll have to look into books about beating depression with food. Nutrition is a vital part of self care, so in order to obtain the best physical and mental health, you should look after your nutrition. I think that “How Not To Die” is a really good overview of how to eat a healthy, plant-based diet (even though I personally am not a vegetarian). 

      Yes, the little cloud will float away. You have a wonderful perspective and I wish you good health.

  2. Thank you for the article. I really love to read up on stuff like this, as a motivational speaker it really helps improve my skill set in helping others get out of their depression in one way or another. I like the fact that you mentioned the book provides exercises as well. Just like a muscle when a person knows how and what to train they will become stronger.

    • Yes. One of my favorite ideas from this book was that depressions is maintained by your actions and thought processes and that by changing those, you can undo depression. Even though it sounds easy, it takes some dedication to overcome it. Support is so important so it is good to hear that you are working to understand depression on a deeper level. 

  3. I suffered the on sets of depression due to fibroids which came as a result of hormal inbalance, I went and had an operation which lead to acute depression because my hormones where cut short.

    It would be interesting to see How he writes about this kind of depression, so I will definitely get the book and visit his site. Thank you for recommendation.

    • Hey Cinderalla,

      Sorry to hear that you had to go through all of that. Fibroids are an ordeal in and of themselves. It must have been terrible to deal with that, and the surgery, and the depression. This book does go into physical issues that can cause depression and what you should do if this happens to you. I hope that you find some relief. 

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