Depressive disorders like Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Persistent Depressive Disorder are some of the costly disorders across the world. As per WHO, depression impacts close to 280 million people in the world. And despite having effective treatments, over 75% of people having depression in middle and low-income countries do not get treated. This is where some of the best books for depression come in handy.
These books about anxiety and depression help you to understand what depression is, the signs of depression, and the things you can do for depression treatment. Before getting into some of the best self-help books for depression, let’s understand what depression is.
What is Depression?
Major depressive disorder (MDD) makes for one of the best conditions under depressive disorders. As per DSM-5, MDD is a depressive disorder that is characterized by a depressed mood or lack of interest during the last two weeks. Apart from these two signs of depression, the depression symptoms seen during the last two weeks are as follows.
- Major weight gain or weight loss
- Sleep issues like insomnia or hypersomnia
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost each day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Repeated thoughts of death
- Psychomotor agitation
What Causes Depression?
One of the major causes of depression includes temperamental factors. An individual experiencing neuroticism has a higher risk of the initiation of MDD. Likewise, high levels of neuroticism increase the chances of MDD even higher specifically in response to stressful events.
Likewise, the environment one is exposed to during childhood or otherwise also causes depression. For instance, a child exposed to bad childhood experiences like sexual assault and multiple such episodes is at a higher risk of MDD. Similarly, a person exposed to stressful events like financial crises is at a higher risk of experiencing MDD.
In addition to this, MDD is also at times the outcome of one’s genetic makeup. Persons with first-degree family members suffering from MDD have a higher risk of suffering from MDD. This is relative to the general population.
Further, all non-mood disorders pose a higher risk of depression in an individual. For instance, MDD which develops against the backdrop of other disorders like anxiety, substance use, and borderline personality disorder. Such a depressive disorder adopts a more difficult approach. This may delay the identification of the depression symptoms.
Finally, severe medical conditions may also result in major depressive episodes. These may include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.
Thus, to help you understand what depression is, and what depression feels like, books to overcome depression are very useful.
This article covers some of the best books for depression that you must read to help you deal with depression.
Best Books for Depression
1. The Noonday Demon
The Noonday Demon is one of the best books for people with depression by Andrew Solomon. Solomon himself has struggled with depression and hence brings out insights from his own experience. Additionally, he counts on the interviews with doctors, fellow sufferers, scientists, etc to bring out the complications and the pain associated with the illness. Thus, Solomon puts out the details, complications, and pain associated with depression.
One of the important goals of the book is to get rid of the stigma attached to mental illness. Secondly, he aims to face the challenge of defining depression as a mental illness, the drugs available to treat the mental illness, the efficiency of these drugs, and the impact it has on the populations at large.
According to Solomon, depression is a vehicle of despair. When despair occurs, it results in self-degradation. This self-degradation is what results in diminishing one’s ability to receive and give affection. He further adds that this loneliness with oneself and others is what makes one lose connection with others as well as oneself.
But, if a person with depression can love oneself and others, it can serve to protect the mind from having negative, suicidal thoughts, feeling depressed, and losing interest in life.
This is where antidepressants and psychotherapy come in handy. These make it easy for people with depression to love themselves and give love to others.
2. Feeling Great
Feeling Great is also one of the best books for depression by Dr. David D. Burns. He discloses some of the great methods that people with anxiety and depression can practice to see a lasting improvement. It is a book that acts as your personal toolkit for changing feelings of anxiety and depression into joy and confidence.
This is not a book that replaces therapy. This is because the techniques mentioned may not apply to everyone reading the book given each one may experience depression that varies in severity and type.
In this book, Dr. Burns shares the stories of various people with anxiety and depression. These are positive stories of their recovery and how Dr. Burn’s techniques have worked for them. Such examples of people with depression improving significantly give hope to readers with depression. And hope is an important part of healing.
He further claims that depression is an outcome of how you think about things. That is the negative thoughts that occur and the content of things that one says to himself.
3. Lost Connections
Lost Connections is also one of the amazing books to help with depression by Johann Hari. In this book, Hari makes use of cases in history and science to reveal the reasons people go through depression.
Hari himself has struggled with depression and was just eighteen when he first had antidepressants. His doctor told him that depression is primarily caused due to lower levels of a brain chemical called serotonin. And SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors were the solutions to depression.
He used to feel grateful for SSRIs and tell his fellow mates in college and wrote articles in newspapers when he became a journalist. These articles explained how sadness came back to him due to the diminishing brain chemicals. And why he felt blessed to have SSRIs as the cure for depression.
But with time, his dosage per day kept increasing. As he was expressing his feelings about SSRIs being a savior to his therapist, his therapist explained that Are still appeared depressed to him. That’s how Hari explains his experience in the book that depression is not necessarily a result of the chemical imbalance.
There exist a host of usual reasons for depression. For instance, difficult life situations can result in depression. Similarly, feeling disconnected from people can lead to depression. Also, a disconnect from bad childhood experiences can cause depression.
4. The Mindful Way Through Depression
The Mindful Way Through Depression is one of the good books for depression written by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, and Zindel V. Segal. This book is a guide to how experiencing depression is not one’s mistake. In other words, a person experiencing depression becomes a victim of his efforts to free himself from this illness. We are habituated to free ourselves from the pain we suffer. And the more we try to liberate ourselves, the more we get trapped in the pain.
Further, the dampening of mood during the first stages is not what causes the damage. However, it is how one reacts to the diminishing mood that makes all the difference.
Thus, this book unveils some of the practices that one can adopt in daily life. These practices help one to get rid of the mental habits that keep one entangled in unhappiness. This program is called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). This includes various forms of meditations and current scientific understandings that have been proven useful within prevailing medicine and psychology.
This book helps you to know various ways in which you can know your mind and body. And this is what helps in making a major shift in your association with negative thoughts and feelings.
Thus, such a shift can help you chart a path to prevent the downward spiral of mood so that it does not transform into depression.
5. The Happiness Trap
The Happiness Trap is a book that is founded on the growing scientific research that reveals that we all are gripped in the psychological trap. As per the author, all of us live lives based on incorrect beliefs about happiness. This is why we get stuck in a vicious cycle where the more we attempt to find happiness, the more we suffer.
But, we can learn how to identify this happiness trap and come out of it. This book provides you with the skills and tools you need to identify and come out of this vicious cycle. Such knowledge is based on a new development in human psychology called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The goal of ACT is to help people live a meaningful life and at the same time effectively deal with the unavoidable pain.
Further, the book reveals the definitions of happiness. Where one defines happiness as having more in terms of money, status, sexual activity, etc. The other definition relates happiness to having a meaningful life. That is a life marked by taking actions on things that matter to you and taking a stand for what you believe. This book defines hap[piness in the second way mentioned above.
It teaches you that pain is inevitable and that we can’t avoid it. However, we can learn how to handle this pain in a better way. Further, it emphasizes creating a meaningful life that is fulfilling.
6. Essential Art Therapy Exercises
This is a book written by Leah Guzman, who is a registered, board-certified art therapist. (ATR-BC). The book provides a launchpad for mindfulness, acceptance, insight, and self-expression. The author shares several exercises that help people suffering from mental illness to visually represent their thoughts and feelings.
These exercises help people with anxiety, depressions, PTSD, etc to learn how to control their thoughts and feelings. Such learning impacts their behavior and helps in identifying new ways of responding to given situations. Further, this book is not only for people who have artistic abilities. It is also helpful for those who take themselves to be non-artistic.
Further, this book talks about art therapy which makes use of art and psychology to improve the lives of people. People with anxiety, PTSD, depression, etc can express their feelings through various art-making processes. This helps them to heal.
7. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple
As the name suggests, the book is on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy written by Seth J. Gillihan, a PhD. In this, the author explains that over two decades of his experience, there are two things he’s understood about effective treatments for mental disorders. The first is that they are simple. And that is what he has tried to do to explain Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as a technique for anxiety and depression.
According to Seth, when one is depressed, he isn’t motivated to even take up activities that he loves doing. Accordingly, one doesn’t have the energy or time to read something complicated.
Secondly, treatments might be simple but they are not easy. The one suffering from mental illness like anxiety and depression has to make a lot of effort. This is because it is difficult for him to take up something he loves doing when he is depressed. This is where this book comes in handy. CBT is a powerful technique that gives one goal that he needs to work towards. Further, it also provides one with techniques and a course that help him to achieve his goals.
Even if you don’t know anything about CBT, you need not worry. This is because Seth has designed this book in such a way that it can be used by anyone. These may include people who are about CBT for the first time to those who have used CBT before and want a refresher.
The book puts together a host of research-based techniques that are useful for various mental illnesses.
8. Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts
Written by Sally M. Winston, PsyD, and Martin N. Seif, a Ph.D. this is one of the best books to help with depression. As the name suggests, the book is about those distressing, fearful thoughts that come to you uninvited. These are intrusive thoughts that you are scared to share as they may be something shameful about you.
This book helps you to define your intrusive thoughts and acknowledge that there are numerous good people like you who have such thoughts. Additionally, it helps you to deal with your thoughts without any shame or fear which is useful in reducing your distress.
Further, it also reveals various types of intrusive thoughts that you can think of, why they occur, and various ways you can adopt to overcome them.
Further, it also exposes some of the myths that lead to intrusive thoughts and answers questions many people have about such thoughts. Also, these books give you an understanding of how your brain turns such intrusions so concerning for you. And why you aren’t able to get rid of them despite your best efforts.
9. Furiously Happy
Furiously Happy comes from the New York Times best-selling author Jenny Lawson. She is one of those who has herself struggled with different forms of mental illnesses, depression being one of them. And through this book, she analyses her lasting struggle with mental illness.
As Jenny Lawson puts it, Furiously Happy is about taking those moments when things are just fine and turning them extraordinary. It is because it is these moments that make one who he is and these are the same moments that push us into a war with our brains. It is these moments that make us challenge our very existence.
Also, it is a book about accepting everything about oneself, both the beautiful aspects as well as the flaws. And once done, using such acknowledgment to look for joy in amazing and outrageous ways. This book is for people fighting with mental illness that puts together a number of essays that are funny and honest.
10. The Upward Spiral
The Upward Spiral is one of the good books for depression that helps you explore your brain. Written by Alex Korb, PhD., this book provides you with the requisite practical knowledge and tools that help you improve your lives.
By knowing how your brain works, you can actually know what you can do to enhance your life. Alex takes you into the world of neuroscience where he talks about neuroplasticity. This is the ability of the brain to rewire itself based on what you do. That is, how you purposely shape your thoughts, how you intentionally calm your emotions can actually help the human brain to right itself.
So anyone with anxiety, depression, a depressive mood, etc can use the knowledge about the brain laid out in the book to understand and enjoy life.
Basically, various parts of your brain come together to reduce your anxiety and anxiety. Such knowledge can help turn the downward spiral tendency of your brain into an upward spiral.
11. The Depression Cure
The Depression Cure is a self-help book on depression that contains a six-step program that promises to treat depression. This program is called the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC). In this book, the author Stephen S. Ilardi guides you through the TLC program step-by-step.
Further, he also shares numerous stories about people who have overcome depression using the TLC program. The program consists of six components. These include physical exercise, sunlight exposure, engaging activity, omega-3 fatty acids, social connection, and enhanced sleep.
As per the author, all these six components have antidepressant properties as per the research available. Further, he also reveals that this program addresses modern depression from its roots. That is, the fact that humans were never made for a sedentary, indoor, secluded, sleep-deprived, current day lifestyle.
12. This is Depression
Dr. Diane McIntosh makes depression easy to understand in her book This is Depression. As the name suggests, the book explains in simple terms what depression is all about and what are its causes. It also lays of how one’s early life experiences influence mental health during later life and how one can seek help.
In addition to this, Dr. Diane also reveals ways in which you can talk about depression with your loved ones. Further, she also guides on the various treatments available for depression, antidepressants, and how they function.
She even discusses the common side-effects of various anti-depressants and what are the options available to treat depression without medication.
Towards the end of the book, she cheats out a critical path to recovery that one can adopt to deal with depression.
This book is a simple guide to depression and can be used both by caregivers and people struggling with this mental illness.
13. Change Your Brain Change Your Life
This book lays out the importance of the brain imaging study of individuals to know if their brains work right. It lays out how the brain works and how one can make it work better.
The author, Dr. Daniel Amen, a neuropsychiatrist, puts down the insights gained from the brain SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) studies done on people. These studies reveal the blood flow and activity patterns that tell how the brain functions.
The doctor in his book reveals that it is important to study an individual’s brain using brain imaging technology. This is because without studying the brain, it is difficult to say what the person is going through.
This book helps one to understand more about his brain and gives you ways in which you can improve your brain functioning. Such an understanding of the brain and getting ideas for improvement help on unbecoming more effective.
The aim of the author through this book is to help the reader to want a better brain. This is because living an enhanced life depends on having an improved brain. Further, the various concepts discussed in the book will help you to be more empathetic and change your perspective towards people who are struggling with mental illness.
14 Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of the Exercise and the Brain
Spark is one of the self-help books on depression that explains why physical activity is so important for how we think and feel. The author of the book Dr. John J. Ratey, in this book, lays out the science behind exercise that forms the building blocks of learning.
That is, how exercise:
- influences one’s attention, mood, and anxiety
- how it protects against stress and reverses effects of aging and
- how it can prevent effects of hormonal changes in women
Dr. John also explains how increased stress levels can shrink certain areas of the brain. And how physical activity results in boosting the brain’s infrastructure. The way muscles grow with use and diminish with inactivity. Likewise, the neurons in the brain connect through branches that flourish with increased physical activity. This results in improved brain activity.
He further reveals that muscle activity produces proteins that reach the brain via the bloodstream. In return, the proteins reaching the brain help individuals in higher-level thought processes.
This book puts out the connection between the brain, mind, and body. By understanding brain functioning and its communication with your body, you can manage problems and let your mind run along effortlessly.
15. Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression
Learned Hopefulness is a book that lays out how hope takes us to our destiny despite there being numerous obstacles. Using the science of positive psychology, the author Dan Tomasulo, a Ph.D., reveals that people want to live meaningful and fulfilling lives.
If one concentrates on cultivating the best within oneself he can move towards the best possible future. Positive images about one’s future give him hope which takes him towards his destiny despite the obstacles.
However, we come in our own way because we lose hope owing to the shackles of our minds. The author puts out clearly that there exist tools to be hopeful and learn habits that will help you to move towards your positive destiny.
It doesn’t ask you to forget your suffering but guides you to maintain a balance by increasing your awareness and rethinking what your future could be.
Basically, it teaches you to use your imagination to know your strengths and possibilities in life.
16. Depression, Anxiety, and Other Things We Don’t Want to Talk About
This is a book by Ryan Casey Waller, a pastor and a licensed psychotherapist who himself has been suffering from anxiety and depression. In this book, he shares his own experience of enduring mental illness and how many people fail to admit their mental illness. This is because they feel that such an admission would mean that their faith in God is weak.
He also shares how people suffering from mental illnesses like anxiety and depression often lie to themselves and others. For instance, they would typically say that they’ll deal with the mental issue they are fighting with. As per the author, suffering from a mental illness does not mean that one’s faith in God is falling. Instead, God makes good our suffering and guides us towards a cure.
Still, the author claims that the people suffering from mental illness can feel alone and dispirited as he has experienced the same. Thus, putting together his clinical knowledge and theology concepts, Waller provides an empathetic guide that gives hope.
Waller motivates people with mental illness to have discussions about their mental illness without any shame or guilt. He asks readers to know that self-knowledge is critical to have a deep connection with God. Additionally, he urges people to get the necessary knowledge and tools needed to support people with mental illness, giving them love and self-care.
17. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking
The Antidote is one of those books on anxiety and depression that compels you to think over the years-old advice on happiness in a completely new way. Many self-help preachers have been urging people to think positively and be optimistic about life and its various aspects to be happy.
However, Oliver Burkerman, the author of this book, claims that one’s relentless effort to prevent negative thinking is what makes one feel anxious and unhappy.
In this book, he urges readers to rethink their attitude towards uncertainty, death, and failures in life. As per him, one can get happiness by accepting the things he runs away from in his life.
This book is a counter-intuitive guide that acknowledges the power of negative thinking.
18. Depression-Free, Naturally
Depression Free Naturally is one of the self-help books for depression that contain principles to help you overcome unresolved emotional problems. This is despite you taking therapy, medication, healing sessions to overcome your mental issues.
Founder of the Health Recovery Center, Joan Mathews Larson shares the biochemical methods and tools. These have been tried and tested on several people showing symptoms of anxiety, depression, sullen mood, etc.
Having lost her teenage son to drug abuse, she says that no amount of talk therapy can repair the imbalanced biochemistry. She reveals that there is an enormous body of research that confirms that alcohol, prescribed drugs, stress, poor nutrition, and poor absorption destroy many natural substances.
These substances are needed by the human brain to control one’s emotions. Unfortunately, this leads to our brains changing physically but such changes are expressed emotionally.
Therefore, no amount of talk therapy or advice can change the brain’s biochemistry. In this book, Joan shares her program that will help you to improve your quality of life.
19. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is one of the best books for depression written by Sarah Wilson, the best-selling author, and entrepreneur. In this book, she concentrates on anxiety which she has suffered her entire life. She puts her years of research into perspective as she talks about the triggers, treatments, and fads associated with anxiety.
Throughout the book, she shares her insights gained from interviewing Dalai lama, various mental health experts, and people suffering from mental issues.
She even puts forth the fact that anxiety is challenging and a risky mental illness. She redefines anxiety as a spiritual hunt over a troublesome disorder.
She says it’s a state of longingness that takes one nearer to what is important and what truly matters.
This book is funny, poetic, and at the same time practical in terms of helping people with anxiety to feel better about their state. The author also talks about the number of opportunities this common mental issue gives one to live a fulfilling life.
20. Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me
This is a memoir of the award-winning journalist Anna Mehler Paperny. In this, she bravely puts out her experience of depression and her journey to look for aspects known and unknown about this mental issue.
Depression is a mental disorder that affects one-fifth of the population and this is one of those books to help with depression. It provides some priceless solutions to those who are seeking the same.
It offers a mixed back of moments – funny, serious, exciting, and heartbreaking that leave the readers with everlasting impressions. Anna was just 20 when she attempted suicide. That’s when she put her reporter skills to use to know more about this mental issue.
She took various mental treatments available to find answers to a host of questions about depression. She puts out clearly how depression results in the devastation of people. Additionally, she lists down various schools of therapy, medicine, and pharmacology. Further, she’s put the interview conversations she’s had with a host of significant medical professionals across the US and Canada.
Need To Talk To A Therapist? Consider These Online Therapy Programs!
* Basic Package @ $31.96 per wk
* Standard Package @ $47.96 per wk
* Premium Package @ $63.96 per wk