You may also want to see the Background page, which describes my personal history with depression and the search for happiness.


Richard O'Connor, MSW, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist in private practice in Connecticut and Manhattan.  For 15 years he was the director of a large nonprofit community mental health center.  He received his MSW and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and extended his education through the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Family Institute of Chicago.  Dr. O’Connor has been invited to present at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium and the National Institute for Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (both twice), the New England Educational Institute’s Cape Cod Seminars, and occasionally on NPR’s Marketplace.  An engaging presenter with a relaxed, open style, Dr. O’Connor makes his audience at ease in discussing difficult and sometimes personal topics. His openness about his own experience with depression has enabled many readers and listeners to feel he speaks with unusual candor and integrity.


He is the author of four books:  Undoing Depression (1997) has become a classic in self-help, and Active Treatment of Depression (2001) has been reviewed as “one of the decade's great psychotherapy texts on depression.”  Undoing Perpetual Stress (2005), reviews current knowledge about the impact of social and cultural change on the brain, mind, and body, and describes concrete steps the individual can take toward recovery.  It received the Books for a Better Life Award as the best wellness book of 2005.  Happy at Last:  The Thinking Person’s Guide to Joy (St. Martin’s, October 2008) first reviews why it is so difficult to find happiness despite material wealth.  Then it finds solutions for these problems in the latest scientific research and puts the solutions into engaging, practical, empathic, and sometimes witty words.



Undoing Depression (Berkley, 1999) makes clinical wisdom and research knowledge about depression accessible to the individual sufferer and his/her family.  In clear, direct language, with vivid examples from his practice, O’Connor lays out a twelve-step program for recovery from depression.  This book has become a classic in the self-help literature.

Distinguished by its common sense, its humanity, and its absence of dogmatism.  It is a balanced and persuasive book that explores the dark predicament of depression, and the pathways toward it, with fresh insight.---William Styron, author, Darkness Visible, Sophie’s Choice

An uncommonly thorough and useful guide.—Publishers Weekly

I read it, and it’s good.  Larry McMurtry, author, Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment


Active Treatment of Depression (Norton, 2001) is a guide for therapists who want to do a better job with their depressed patients.  It takes a balanced view of medication, gives a thorough assessment guide, and presents a common-sense model of depression that integrates knowledge from differing points of view.  It focuses on the need for the therapist to tolerate and empathize with the patient’s situation, and at the same time to make something happen emotionally in the therapeutic relationship.

A superb discussion of treatment, including a marvelous analysis of the psychological aspects of medication.  Excelling in its exploration of problematic thinking patterns in depression, with great applicability to cognitive therapy, this is one of the decade’s great psychotherapy texts on depression!—Readings:  A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health


Undoing Perpetual Stress (Berkley, 2005) argues that depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD reactions, personality disorders, and many physical illnesses are all fingers of the same hand, all reactions to a society the human nervous system was never designed for.  An impressive marshalling of evidence, the book lays out its case in vivid, engaging language that will help the reader see how it is possible to rewire the brain by providing mindful, deliberate life experiences.

Read this book before it is too late.—Bill O’Hanlon, noted speaker and author of Do One Thing Different.

A must-read.—Anne Sheffield, author of Depression Fallout and How You Can Survive When They’re Depressed.


Happy at Last (St. Martin’s, 2008):  Happiness doesn’t come naturally, though we expect it to.  Our brain tricks us into believing that we’ll be happy if we get what we want, but that’s simply not so; we just move on to wanting something else.  Learning how to be happy takes work:  primarily systematic, focused attention to our feelings (in a way that we’re not used to), then thoughtful decision-making, then practice. But once we learn how to do it, it’s easy, because we’ve taught our brain new automatic habits.  If you can learn to type, you can learn to be happy.


Many self-help books are wildly unrealistic and not grounded in any kind of scientific evidence about how the mind actually works. Not so Richard O'Connor's book. The author provides a clear roadmap through the opportunities, obstacles and complexities of happiness, drawing on the latest scientific research as well as his long and compassionate experience as a therapist. This is a book that leaves you wiser andbetter equipped to face the future.

Daniel Nettle, author of Happiness:  The Science Behind Your Smile.

Richard O'Connor, having already helped us to undo depression and chronic stress, now helps us to do happiness. Filled with humor and humanity, this book gives an up-to-date summary of the best of what research and clinical experience has to tell us about being happy. O'Connor is an engaging writer who holds the reader's attention while providing real substance.

Bill O'Hanlon, author, Change 101




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