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Last modified: Tuesday, 08-Nov-2011 16:27:45 EST

University Counseling Center (UCC)


Title: How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me.
Author: Susan Rose Blauner
Publisher: New York: Quill
Publication Date: 2002
ISBN: 0-06-621121-2

This is a sympathetic and practical hands-on guide for those who experience suicidal thoughts; it is also meant to be helpful to their loved ones. The book was written by a layperson who has survived 18 years' worth of her own obsessive suicidal thoughts and multiple suicide attempts, and who has ultimately worked to build for herself a rich life that is immeasurably less controlled by suicidal urges. The book consists of three main parts. First, the author nonjudgmentally describes her own struggle with suicidal urges and her beliefs about the functions that these impulses served. The large middle chunk of the book consists of a multitude of specific, clear and down-to-earth "tricks of the trade." The many options offered in this section are intended to help prevent and tackle the occurrence of suicidal thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The third component of the book is intended to guide those who wish to support suicidal friends and family.

This section also offers many hands-on how-to suggestions and emphasizes the need to listen to and support the suicidal thinker, rather than try to change him/her. Overall, this is an easy-to-read book that validates the feelings of the suicidal thinker while offering plenty of useful and do-able suggestions for how to create a more fulfilling life. Note: this book is not intended to be a replacement for professional counseling; individuals who need immediate assistance should call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Title: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, Revised and Updated Edition
Author: David Burns
Publisher: Perennial Currents
Publication Date: 1999
ISBN: 0380731762


Title: The Feeling Good Handbook, Revised Edition
Author: David Burns
Publisher: Plume Books
Publication Date: 1999
ISBN: 0452281326

The Feeling Good Handbook offers a do-it-yourself translation of cognitive-behavioral principles of therapy for depression (and a few other related problems). Its premise is that thoughts, and not events, produce our moods. And therefore if we can change our thoughts, we can change our moods. The handbook offers ways to identify thinking patterns that are "distorted" or self-defeating, and ways to overcome and replace them. The author has included many exercises, self-rating scales, trouble-shooting techniques and vignettes to help the reader not only "get" the concepts intellectually, but also to be able to live them. In fact, the author stresses, and rightly so, that one must practice the book's exercises regularly for some time in order to truly derive benefits from them. This is therefore not a book for someone who is not interested in committing to such practice.

Dr. Burns' previous book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, offers a more in-depth presentation of cognitive-behavioral principles of therapy, and is geared specifically towards depression. It also offers a practical understanding about the thoughts and behaviors that may promote depression, and also provides structured exercises and suggestions for overcoming these. This book is more dense and theoretical than the handbook, but also more specific to depression. Personal preference may dictate which of the two books a person selects to start working with.

It is important to note that while cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression can be effective for some individuals, a) it is not effective for everyone and b) it may not be effective for everyone in book form. As the author notes, "distorted" thoughts can seem very real to those who have lived with them for years, and it can take a lot of effort, energy, and understanding to overcome them - things that a therapist, and sometimes medication, can help with. While the author's breezy style is helpful in maintaining optimism for some readers, others have found themselves feeling frustrated that the actual work is not as simple as it initially seems. These exercises can be quite meaningful and helpful, but it takes a good deal of practice to get to the point where one can complete them with ease. While one can gain some control over one's thoughts and moods, one needs patience, practice, and sometimes outside support, to do so.

Title: The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression, 2nd Ed.
Author: Mary Ellen Copeland
Publisher: Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Publication Date: 2001

"Develop Your Own Wellness Recovery Action Plan

From the best-selling author, Marry Ellen Copeland, comes the Second Edition of The Depression Workbook. Learn and practice the latest research-based self-help strategies to relieve depression and address other mental health issues including how to:

A new chapter guides readers through developing your own plan for managing symptoms and staying well. This process, known as the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), was developed by a group of people who experience depression, or manic depression and/or have other mental health concerns and who now report that this plan helped them relieve their symptoms and improve the quality of their lives.

This edition is updated in all areas including new medical and holistic perspectives and extensive lists of helpful resources and Web sites that will assist you in your journey to wellness. By letting you share more than a hundred case stories and empowering you with the most current therapeutic strategies, The Depression Workbook, Second Edition will give you insight, energy, and hope." --publisher

Reviews completed by the University Counseling Center staff.

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