Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand, but it’s not always the case They can steal your motivation and often make your life’s goal seem less important than it is. They put up roadblocks that make it hard to do simple things every day: It can be hard even to get out of bed in the morning or to eat in the middle of the night.
Depression and anxiety are caused by both genetics and life events, but the right tools and information can help anyone fight back and find happiness. We’ve put together a list of powerful books that psychologists have recommended or written. These books will give you the tools you need to break free from depression and live the life you want.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy By David D. Burns, M.D.
The Stanford psychiatrist David Burns, M.D., has written a very important book about how cognitive behavioral techniques can change how we feel at any given time. People who are depressed or anxious have a lot of pain because their thoughts aren’t right. When we learn to think in a different way and choose different thoughts, we can learn to “feel good.”
When you change how you think, you can change how you feel.
Healing the Child Within By Charles L. Whitfield, M.D.
All of us have an inner child who is alive and energetic, says Charles Whitfield, M.D. A bad childhood and the shame that comes with it can make us lose our inner child. As long as it’s been around, this book has helped a lot of people find their inner child and heal the pain of the past.
Personal growth is all about getting in touch with and living from our true selves.
The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook By Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D.
Practical workbook: Since its release, this book has been a favorite of people who have an anxiety disorder, from GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) to OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Breathe, eat, exercise, meditate, and talk to yourself in a positive way to get over your fears.
Takeaway: An anxious mind can’t live in a calm body.
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life By Martin Seligman, Ph.D.
This book by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., one of the founders of positive psychology, talks about research he did on depression and its opposite, learned optimism. Martin says that having a positive attitude is a big part of getting over depression. Isn’t that good news? You can learn how to be more optimistic! How optimistic are you? Take a quiz to find out (or are not). Fortunately, you can change how you think. Do that for yourself and your kids with this book.
Pessimism can’t be avoided.
The Anxiety & Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution By David A. Clark, Ph.D., and Aaron T. Beck, M.D.
Aaron T. Beck, M.D., the founder of cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychiatrist David A. Clark, Ph.D., offer ways to find the things that make you anxious. Learn how to question your thoughts and get the courage to take small steps to face things you’re afraid of.
Stop and give yourself a chance.
The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points By Alice Boyes, Ph.D.
If you doubt yourself and are mean to yourself in general, you are more likely to have anxiety. New coping skills and an understanding of how your thoughts might be making you anxious can help you get out of a rut. Recognize how strong you are and how well you can deal with things that don’t go as planned.
Takeaway: Be kind to yourself. Self-care is important.
On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety By Andrea Petersen
A health and wellness writer for the Wall Street Journal, Andrea Petersen also had another reason to write a book about anxiety, which is why she did. She has had panic attacks and an anxiety disorder since she was in college. On Edge is both a memoir and an objective look at the history and understanding of anxiety. It also talks about current research, medication, and non-pharmaceutical treatment, as well as how to deal with anxiety. The book makes people who have anxiety for the first time or for a long time feel like they aren’t alone.
Takeaway: If you have anxiety, ask for help from your family and friends.
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression By Andrew Solomon
The Noonday Demon is a book about depression that is both intellectual and personal. It is based on research and looks at the disease from many different angles. Andrew Solomon, the winner of the National Book Award, has been depressed for a very long time. He shows the depths of despair and gives glimpses of hope in this well-written book.
Takeaway: I believe that words are strong, and that they can overpower our fears when our fears seem worse than our lives are good.
The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth By M. Scott Peck, M.D.
One of the lessons in this well-known book is that not dealing with our problems leads to pain and suffering. Even though it’s not about depression or anxiety, The Road Less Traveled has helped many people deal with the difficulties of life. It’s only when we face our pain that we can grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. That’s what M. Scott Peck, MD, says. When we accept that life is hard, we can move past the problems that are holding us back.
Takeaway: The reason we have a hard time taking responsibility for our actions is because we want to avoid the pain that comes from our actions.
When Bad Things Happen to Good People By Harold S. Kushner
Some people say that pain is the price we pay for living. Rabbi Harold S. Kushner thinks that this is true. How did his 3-year-old boy become sick and only live to be in his early teens? Harold thought about this question. We have a choice: We can let the pain get the best of us, or we can use it to make our lives more meaningful. Again, this book isn’t just about depression, but it talks about things that can make people fall into a deep depression if they don’t have the right tools to choose another path.
In the end, we forgive ourselves, not the other person.