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Undoing Depression summary - available in audiobook and text formats 11m 30s

Undoing Depression

Richard O’Connor

Psychotherapist Richard O'Connor says depression is fueled by complex and interrelated factors: genetic, biochemical, environmental. But here he focuses on an additional factor often overlooked: our own habits. Unwittingly we get good at depression.


The Bottom Line

“Recovery from depression is hard work,” the author writes — for the sufferer and for anyone caring for them. It starts with identifying destructive emotional habits and replacing them with new coping skills.

I. Introduction

One in 5 Americans suffer from depression, with the age of onset getting younger and first episodes becoming more severe. Like heart disease, depression is caused by a complex mix of factors, including genetics, biochemistry and environment. Despite the increasing numbers pointing to an epidemic, however, no surefire cure exists, and much about the condition is misunderstood. In Undoing Depression, Richard O’Connor, a psychotherapist and family counselor, argues that the most common approaches to treating depression overlook a crucial element: our own habits. O’Connor analyzes the pros and cons of various traditional approaches for treating depression, and argues that paring the most effective of these with self-help strategies can produce the best results.

First published in 1997 and updated in 2010, Undoing Depression remains relevant today. O’Connor writes that he is pleased that his original text has withstood the test of time, but he is also dismayed by the lack of meaningful progress in achieving a deeper understanding of the drivers behind depression and developing more effective treatments. That said, there have been promising breakthroughs since the book was first published. Neuroscientists confirmed O’Connor’s original hypothesis, for example, that old neural pathways are replaced by new connections when we put an end to harmful habits and replace them with healthy ones. In other words, by focusing on and practicing new coping skills, we can change our brains. “Thus,” O’Connor writes, “it’s even more imperative that people with depression be encouraged and enabled to take effective action for themselves.”

II. Depression 101

III. Map Your Moods

IV. Breaking Bad Habits and Building Good Ones

V. Healthy Thought Patterns

VI. Nurture Relationships

VII. Mind Your Body

The Takeaway


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