Best Self Help Books for Anxiety and Depression of 2021: Complete Reviews With Comparisons
We all get anxious and depressed because of certain events, toxic people, unexpected fallbacks, and other things that negatively affect our state of mind. Some experience anxiety and/or depression more often than others and have a more difficult time coping. The best self help books for anxiety and depression contain invaluable pieces of information to …

Best Self Help Books for Anxiety and Depression of 2021: Complete Reviews With Comparisons Read More »

Last Updated on July 14, 2021 by Ellyssa

We all get anxious and depressed because of certain events, toxic people, unexpected fallbacks, and other things that negatively affect our state of mind.

Some experience anxiety and/or depression more often than others and have a more difficult time coping.

The best self help books for anxiety and depression contain invaluable pieces of information to help improve their readers’ mental health and understand what they’re going through. Some of these books also provide tips and tricks that can aid in achieving better mental well-being.

Of course, these books can’t replace therapy and treatment, but they can make you feel that you’re not alone in your battles. You can also get ideas on how to deal with your anxiety and depression.

Below are five books that you can consider purchasing, as they’re all written by professionals who have a good understanding of mental health.

Best Self Help Books for Anxiety and Depression: A Review

1. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Andrew Solomon, the author, is a psychology lecturer at Columbia University, a writer who focuses on psychology, arts, and political topics, and an advocate of mental health, arts, and LGBTQ rights. Besides The Noonday Demon, some of his essays, novels, and books also received recognition from awarding bodies.

If you want to get to know more about him, below is a video of Andrew Solomon talking about depression.

Review

A book that will help you understand mental illness and the human condition, The Noonday Demon is highly recognized, as it is one of the New York Times bestsellers. It’s also a Pulitzer Prize finalist for General Non-Fiction Category, a National Book Award winner for Non-Fiction, a Lambda Literary Award winner for memoir or autobiography, and Guardian list’s 23rd best book of the 21st century.

The Noonday Demon will provide you with an in-depth explanation of depression on a scientific, cultural, and personal level. Solomon talked about his share of struggles that started right after his senior year in college and worsened when he lost his mother to cancer, and then his therapist retired.

He also discussed various treatments, such as medicine, therapy, herbs, and acupuncture, and how depression has been perceived throughout the years in different countries and cultures. You’ll also understand the relationship between depression and poverty and addiction once you finish reading this book.

You’ll also find that he dedicated some chapters to the population most at risk of depression, including LGBTQs, women, children, minorities, chronically ill, and those living in countries with a politically repressive government.

He looked into literary pieces, studies, and anecdotal evidence to ensure the information he provided is factual. He also interviewed other depression sufferers, scientists, doctors, drug makers, and policymakers.

The Noonday Demon was initially published in 2001 and now has a 2015 edition that comes with a new chapter. It covers new issues such as the relationship between depression and pregnancy, suicide, and anti-depressants, as well as other novel and modern treatments for depression.

This extensive book’s new edition has 688 pages with well-organized chapters. When purchasing it, you can choose from paperback, hardcover, Kindle, and audiobook versions.

Pros:

  • Available in multiple formats
  • Helpful in understanding depression
  • Discusses multiple factors contributing to depression
  • Encouraging and comforting for some depression and anxiety sufferers

Cons:

  • No specific tips or techniques on dealing with symptoms
  • Can be triggering for some depression sufferers

2. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

Dr. David D. Burns, an experienced psychiatrist, highly recognized professor, and award-winning researcher, authored this self help handbook. It’s meant for people suffering from multiple mental and emotional health issues.

Like the first book on our list, the Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy handbook is also available in different formats: audiobook, audio CD, mass market paperback, and paperback.

Review

Feeling Good is another bestselling book that sold more than four million copies in the USA and published in other countries, such as Canada, Australia, China, Germany, and France. It belongs to the Behavioral Medicine Journal’s top 10 list for the best 1980 behavioral science books. Most therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists in the USA also recommend this handbook to their patients.

As you browse through its 736 pages, you’ll find helpful tips and techniques on how you can improve your mood and communication skills, build your self-esteem, recognize the causes of your mood swings, and nip your negative feelings in the bud. The book will also teach you ways to deal with your guilt, handle criticisms and hostility, and overcome your need for society’s approval.

Dr. Burns also explained in detail the different Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) principles. He also included exercises meant to help you identify any cognitive distortion so that you can replace it with a healthy belief or outlook.

Although he strongly emphasizes that the symptoms of and contributing factors to depression are curable without medications, the updated edition includes a consumer guide to anti-depressant meds. It also has a page dedicated to answers related to common depression treatment options.

If you want to learn more about the book, below is a short and fun video on what to expect from it.

Pros:

  • Available in multiple formats
  • Easy to read and understand
  • Recommended by most mental health professionals
  • Helpful in understanding CBT
  • Talked about other mental health issues and symptoms

Cons:

  • Must be read with an open-mind
  • Could have been written in a better tone

3. Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety: Nourish Your Way to Better Mental Health in Six Weeks

The benefits of nutrition go beyond the physical, and this is what Dr. Drew Ramsey advocates for, as evidenced by his books like Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety.

He is a psychiatrist, farmer, author, assistant clinical psychiatry professor, and member of Medscape Psychiatry’s editorial board, Men’s Health’s advisory board, and Well+Good Wellness council. Most of his works have been featured on popular media, including The New York Times, Lancet Psychiatry, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, The Today Show, and NPR.

Review

From the get-go, you will quickly identify that the book’s main purpose is to explain the relationship between mental wellness and brain health. Don’t worry, though, since you will not encounter complicated, hard-to-pronounce scientific terms. In fact, you’ll find cartoon illustrations and charts to help you understand the information better and prevent you from getting overwhelmed with texts or words.

Dr. Ramsey focused on twelve minerals and vitamins essential for the brain and its cells. He also discussed the types of food that help maintain a healthy microbiota and reduce inflammation, all known to aid in improving mental well-being.

Understanding that it is sometimes difficult to get up and shop for and cook healthy food, his book will also help you identify self-nourishment barriers. Likewise, you’ll find effective techniques and tips on how to stay motivated.

The Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety also includes a six-week food plan to help you get started with consuming meals that are good for your mental health. At the end of the book, Dr. Ramsey also shared recipes with ingredients that are easy to source.

If you plan to purchase this 288-page book, you can choose from several formats: audio CD, audiobook, Kindle, and hardcover. If you’re still undecided if this book is good for you, below is a video of Dr. Ramsey’s interview about “brain diet.”

Pros:

  • Available in multiple formats
  • Contains engaging infographics
  • Easy-to-follow and delicious recipes
  • Clear explanation of nutritional psychiatry
  • Perfect for those just starting on anxiety and depression treatment

Cons:

  • No vegan-friendly recipes
  • Most information can be found online

4. Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve: Self-Exercises for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Autism

Stanley Rosenberg, a seasoned and practicing craniosacral therapist, authored the Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve. He is also a teacher and one of the pioneers of the first Biodynamic Cranio-Sacral Therapy course.

Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve has 296 pages. It was originally written and published in the Danish language, but it is now available in more than 10 languages. You can purchase this book in three different formats: audiobook, Kindle, and paperback.

Review

This book by Stanley Rosenberg explains in detail the role of cranial nerves, particularly the vagus nerve, in our physical, emotional, and mental state. Similar to the other best self help books for anxiety and depression on this list, Rosenberg tried to use simple, easy-to-understand terms. He also incorporated a number of case studies throughout his two decades of craniosacral therapy practice to prove the point of the book.

By reading the book, you’ll understand how the vagus nerve helps remove negative feelings, improve the way you interact with people, react to situations, and achieve mental clarity.

Also, since an improperly functioning vagus nerve can lead to anxiety, depression, panic attack, social withdrawal, and more, you’ll find self-help exercises that can help restore and improve the vagus nerve’s function. It also includes exercises that you can perform to check vagal functionality.

Here is a video of one of the exercises suggested by Dr. Rosenberg:

Pros:

  • Available in multiple formats
  • Helpful activities and exercises
  • Perfect for academicians and therapist
  • Addresses multiple mental health issues
  • Also useful for individuals with physical ailments

Cons:

  • Some may find it boring
  • Repetitive and disorganized
  • Only based on the author’s practice
  • Lots of generalizations, especially about autism

5. Reasons to Stay Alive

Reasons to Stay Alive is one of the most recognized works of Matt Haig. It is his first non-fiction book, as he usually writes novels for adults and children’s books, which are mostly award-winning and bestsellers.

Here’s a video of Matt Haig’s interview about living with depression for you to get to know him better:

This book is a memoir based on Matt Haig’s own experiences of living and battling anxiety and depression. You can purchase it in audiobook, hardcover, Kindle, and paperback formats.

Review

Entertainment Weekly named Reasons to Stay Alive as one of the must-read books in 2016, while Sunday Times recognized it as number bestsellers. It was a Waterstones Book of the Year finalist and remained part of the British top-selling books for almost 46 weeks.

Like the last two previous books discussed, Reasons to Stay Alive only has a few pages, 272. The first chapter talks about his depressive and panic attack struggles, while in the second chapter, he shared some of his best practices, such as writing, reading, yoga, and exercise, that helped him feel better and the support he received from his loved ones.

The third chapter focused on discussing how he was able to recognize if he was about to have panic attacks and what he did to ensure he overcame them before they even happen. You will also find how he emphasized the importance of supporting individuals going through depression.

In the fourth chapter, he shared the signs of depression that he failed to recognize before and the relationship between depression and anxiety. He also pointed out that it’s better to cope with mental health issues instead of fighting them.

The last chapter is a confession of how he’s still afraid of depression, even if he now knows how to live and cope with it, but still recognized that depression also taught him how to appreciate life more.

Pros:

  • Easy to understand
  • Inspiring and engaging
  • Available in multiple formats
  • Cleverly and empathically written
  • Helpful in understanding depression
  • Useful for people who have loved ones suffering from mental health issues

Con:

  • No practical tips

Which Self Help Book for Anxiety and Depression Should You Get?

Honestly, there is no one-size-fits-all self help book for mental health issues because a coping technique that worked for one might not work for the other. Similarly, some have great support, while others have none at all.

Nonetheless, these books will help inspire and motivate you or a loved one suffering from depression and anxiety. Knowing that someone or many people have gone through and still are going through them but managed to keep living happy and fulfilled is beneficial.

With that said, our top pick for those who want to understand what they’re or a loved one with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks is going through is Reasons to Stay Alive. Although it doesn’t provide practical tips, it highlights the importance of recognizing mental health issues and their symptoms and finding an activity that can help living with a mental health issue a little easier, resulting in a better relationship with other people.