It is normal to feel anxious from time to time. Even the National Institute of Mental Health states that occasional anxiety is a part of life.
These feelings should eventually fade, though. Persistent and worsening anxiety, after all, is a sign that you might be suffering from a mental health issue.
Fortunately, our digital world has made various therapeutic methods more accessible. In fact, we will take a look at some of the top self help programs for anxiety today.
1. Attacking Anxiety & Depression Program: A Drug-Free Self-Help Guide to Curing Anxiety, Depression, and Stress by Lucinda Bassett
There are two main reasons a lot of self-help programs don’t work: they can either be too general or too focused to a point where they lose their significance. Not this guided treatment program, though. It worked back when it was released in 1983, and its lessons continue to prove relevant today.
According to its blurb, the Attacking Anxiety and Depression Program has already helped 1.4 million people and counting. It was even made as a subject of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, where it was found beneficial for people suffering from anxiety-based mental health issues.
Lucinda Bassett, the person who developed this program, is not just a self-help author and motivational speaker. She is also the founder of the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety in 1984.
Since this program comes in a multimedia medium, it is no wonder that it has already undergone multiple format upgrades these past few decades. It is currently available online in CD-ROM form, but it’s probably still possible to find older versions out there.
Its most current version includes the original 15 audio lessons and personalized interactive guidebooks, one personal coaching session, 16 carry-along cards, and three free gifts. These lessons cover various subjects regarding anxiety from panic attacks, stress management, and guilt.
The only downside, though, is that it is significantly more expensive compared to other self-help programs.
- Tried-and-tested since 1983
- Backed by science
- 15 audio lessons included
- Comes with multiple freebies
2. Unlearning Anxiety & Depression: The 4-Step Self-Coaching Program to Reclaim Your Life by Joseph Luciani Ph.D.
We understand if you believe the previous program to be quite dated, so here’s something that’s only been released recently. Unlearning Anxiety & Depression was published on May 12, 2020, at a time when it was probably needed most. After all, one can’t deny the wave of anxiety caused by the global health crisis.
Also more fondly known online as “Dr. Joe”, Joseph Luciani has been practicing clinical psychology for more than four decades. His books, particularly his bestselling Self-Coaching series, have already been translated into 10 languages.
It can sometimes be hard to trust self-coaching programs since a lot of people seem to be into making self-help content these days. Unfortunately, not everyone is qualified to do so.
This is the reason we really appreciate Luciani’s expertise and years of experience. It is also not surprising that the book took a more scientific approach with its case studies and methodology.
This program’s particular focus is Luciani’s four-step mind-talk method combined with the principle of neuroplasticity. Don’t worry, though, since it is written in an easy-to-read language and format complete with bullet-point instructions and self-directed quizzes.
Feedback on the efficacy of this program is still pretty limited, though, given its recent release.
- Backed with 40 years of experience
- Features actual case studies
- Has a more professional, scientific approach
- Written in an easy-to-follow format
- Feedback on the program is still limited
3. Stop Anxiety from Stopping You: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Panic & Social Anxiety by Helen Odessky PsyD
One of self-help’s biggest weaknesses is the lack of an accurate diagnosis, especially since many of us aren’t even medically inclined. Fortunately, the Stop Anxiety from Stopping You Program offers an entire section dedicated to targeting symptoms. The author strategically leveraged this weakness into one of her book’s strengths.
Don’t get us wrong, though. We still see it ideal to seek medical attention and get professionally diagnosed when possible.
The author, Dr. Helen Odessky PsyD, is an expert on anxiety, OCD, and panic treatment. She currently runs a private practice in Chicago.
The main feature of this program, though, is Odessky’s U.N.L.O.C.K. system. It is a framework based on six steps: understand, negate the panic and anxiety lies, leverage your fears, openness, compassion, and kindle small changes to spark bigger changes.
Each step is then backed by realistic, practical, and evidence-based exercises. We really appreciate that it is a well-grounded book, unlike a lot of other self-help programs out there.
Unfortunately, this book is only 236 pages long, making it one of the shortest in this lineup. We understand why some people will find it lacking, but it is also why we frequently recommend this book to self-help beginners. It’s a quick and straightforward read that will never bore.
- Realistic and practical program
- Evidence-based exercises included
- Diagnostic chapter included
Some people enjoy a more conversational tone in their self-help books, while others prefer to have a more intellectual tone instead. It lends an air of credibility and legitimacy, especially when they know that a renowned expert wrote the book.
That is what sets this program apart from others. It applies techniques from both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT).
Its author, William Knaus EdD, is a licensed psychologist with almost five decades of experience working with people dealing with anxiety and depression. He has also appeared on various television and radio shows, including The Today Show.
The self-help genre sometimes has a reputation of “sharing and resharing things people already know”. Unfortunately, it’s a misconception that can keep more “serious” readers from enjoying the benefits it offers. It’s probably one of the reasons why Knaus opted to write the way he did.
We appreciate that. It keeps doubt at bay, which can be crippling at times. We also like the overall format of the book, with its short and straightforward sections, worksheets, and summaries.
Keep the dictionary handy, though. You can expect several terms that you might need to look up.
- Well-grounded on treatment methods
- Uses evidence-based techniques
- Written in an intellectual tone
- Uses more complex terms at times
We simply cannot end this lineup without mentioning Joseph Luciani’s highly successful program, Self-Coaching. One can say that it’s actually a pioneer of its kind.
Unlike the Unlearning Anxiety & Depression Program we’ve featured above, this book has been published almost two decades ago and, according to Goodreads, has 22 other editions in multiple languages.
It’s also interesting to note that this book is not a standalone program. It is a part of a series of self-coaching books dealing with numerous health issues, including addiction and weight loss. Feel free to explore Luciani’s other books as well for further information.
We particularly enjoy reading the completely revised and updated second edition in English. It contains new self-quizzes, action steps, and other self-help tools that were not included in the first edition.
That makes the book more relevant to this day and age. We also love that it’s one of the most affordable books in the genre, especially compared to others of the same caliber.
Some readers complain that the lessons in this book tend to be quite repetitive. It’s simply the author’s way of reiterating his most important points. We understand why some may find it frustrating, though.
- Backed with 40 years of experience
- Tried-and-tested methods
- New edition contains fresh content
- Tends to be repetitive
Dealing with persistent and worsening anxiety can be a real pain. Fortunately, there are numerous self-help programs available that can help you through this difficult journey. Not all self-help programs are the same, though.
For instance, the five self help programs for anxiety we have featured above are cut among the rest. Of the five, though, our favorite has got to be Stop Anxiety from Stopping You: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Panic & Social Anxiety by Helen Odessky PsyD.
It’s short, making it a quick read. It can serve as a great introduction to those who are still new to reading the self-help genre. Lastly, it is written by an anxiety expert with years of experience in the field.
As an alternative, we also recommend the classic, Self-Coaching: The Powerful Program to Beat Anxiety & Depression by Joseph Luciani Ph.D. There’s a reason why this book continues to prove relevant even after two decades of its first publication.
In the end, however, feel free to choose the program that speaks most to you. As long as you stay open to suggestions and go through your preferred self-help program with intention, we are confident that it will work to your benefit. Finally, please bear in mind that even the best self-help program won’t replace professional treatment.