Sadness is a part of life just as much as happiness is. One can even go as far as saying that it will be impossible to recognize the true value of happiness without feeling sadness first and vice versa.
Sadness must not be mistaken with depression, though. Sadness, like other human emotions, is temporary even with its varying intensities. Depression, on the other hand, is a long-term affliction that affects almost 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Fortunately, there are ways to cope with this pain. In fact, we’ll look at some of the top self help programs for depression.
Self Help Programs for Depression of 2021: Complete Reviews With Comparisons
Self Help Programs for Depression: A Review
There are various treatments available for people who suffer from depression. Seeking professional help remains ideal for getting a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. However, don’t let this hinder you from seeking alternative forms of treatment, like undergoing a self-help program.
Contrary to the popular misconception, self-help materials don’t just teach you what you already know. There are efficient programs that can truly make a significant difference, especially those applying a proven approach like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT).
The first book in our lineup is one such program. The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression is a self-help program based on actual techniques therapists use in their sessions.
It was written and prepared by William Knaus EdD, a licensed psychologist with almost 50 years of clinical experience. His particular fields of expertise are depression and anxiety.
One of the things we like best about this workbook is that it feels like an actual program. It comes with numerous worksheets and exercises that accompany each lesson. We also appreciate the actionable steps that Knaus provides, along with 25 bonus tips coming from other depression experts intended to give you multiple perspectives on your issue.
Be warned, though. This workbook is really dense and substantial. We see how it can easily overwhelm someone who’s at a really bad point in their life.
- Applies proven methods actual therapists use
- Shares actionable steps backed by 50 years of experience
- Numerous worksheets and exercises included
- Can be a bit overwhelming at times
2. How to Heal Yourself from Depression When No One Else Can: A Self-Guided Program to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t by Amy Scher
There are moments in life when you don’t really need a therapist, nor their words. Instead, there are times when what you need is a friend. Someone who is not afraid to tell you how things are, but in a friendly yet caring tone.
That’s what we have found in How to Heal Yourself from Depression When No One Else Can: A Self-Guided Program to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t. We also love how Amy Scher brings her expertise and experience as an energy therapist to the table. It is a refreshing alternative compared to traditional forms of therapy.
We understand why one can easily dismiss energy therapy techniques as a bunch of “woo-woo”. But, according to the University of Minnesota, it is a category of complementary therapy that even the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health recognizes.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to give energy therapy a try, especially if previous methods have already failed you. You will be pleased to learn that this program has the potential to relieve you from your emotional baggage and free you from toxic behavioral patterns like perfectionism or lack of fear.
Since it has only been published in February of 2021, feedback on its efficiency is still quite limited.
- Uses alternative forms of treatment
- Written in a friendly and conversational tone
- Feedback still limited
3. The Upward Spiral Workbook: A Practical Neuroscience Program for Reversing the Course of Depression by Alex Korb
There are times when depression can feel like a downward spiral. If only there were a way to reverse it. That is the main premise of this program: to examine the triggers that can start this ripple effect of depression to find ways to reverse them.
What sets this program apart from others, though, is that it comes from the perspective of neuroscience. According to its blurb, this book seeks to demystify “the intricate brain processes that cause depression” and offer a practical, evidence-based approach grounded on neuroscience.
Alex Korb, the author of this book, has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles, focusing on depression. He still currently works as a researcher at UCLA, serving the department of psychiatry.
We have found this program particularly helpful for those who enjoy a more scientific approach to their condition. We’ve found Korb’s explanations about the brain’s circuitry fascinating, especially since it is explained in the simplest ways possible. Then it presents practical methods to hack the brain’s circuitry and use it to your advantage.
Our only complaint is that it is only 232 pages long.
- Has a neuroscientific approach
- Uses evidence-based techniques
- Teaches complex principles in an easy-to-understand language
4. The Yoga Effect: A Proven Program for Depression and Anxiety by Liz Owen and Holly Lebowitz Rossi
Numerous studies have already proven the merits of exercise as a behavioral intervention in dealing with depression and its symptoms. According to a review published in The Primary Case Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, it can even significantly improve the outcome of numerous therapies and treatment methods.
People’s preferences on physical exercises may vary, though. Some prefer the relaxing rhythm of jogging, while others prefer the escape and excitement of hiking.
This program, though, focuses on the calming effect of yoga. It is written by Liz Owen and Holly Lebowitz Rossi, both experts in their fields of study.
Owen has been a yoga instructor for more than a decade already. Meanwhile, Rossi is an expert on holistic health and spirituality.
Again, it’s one of those programs that can be easy to dismiss as a new age piece. Still, this program was actually developed through a series of three studies at the Boston University School of Medicine, all funded by the National Institutes of Health.
We strongly believe that there is a lot of interest surrounding yoga right now, given the recent health trends. We also understand how it can be a bit intimidating for some, especially for those who don’t really lead very active lifestyles.
Here lie the main strengths of this program. First, it offers various difficulty levels guaranteed to match any reader’s current physical ability. Second, since it is a self-help program, it offers the opportunity of practicing yoga in the comforts and privacy of your own home.
The downside is that it only has 224 pages. Taking into account the photos illustrating the poses, the written content of this book is quite limited.
- Based on NIH-funded studies
- Encourages physical activity
- Suitable for any skill level
5. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems by Daniel Amen MD
Finally, allow us to end our lineup on a high note with a bestseller. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life is currently the highest-ranking book on the physiological aspects of psychology. It also ranks high among books on popular applied psychology and anxiety disorders.
It’s not surprising, given that Dr. Daniel Amen is one of the most influential psychiatrists in the USA. His merits are aplenty.
He is a double board-certified psychiatrist, a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and the founder of Amen Clinics. He is a TV producer and a 10-time New York Times bestselling author as well.
As for Amen’s program, it comes from a neuroscientific perspective backed by more than 100,000 brain scans over the past 25 years to show that depression and other mental issues are related to certain brain structures.
He then shares specific steps on how to hack into your brain and have more control over toxic thoughts and emotions. Amen refers to them as “brain prescriptions”.
Finally, he has proven that a premium self-help program need not be expensive. For 480 pages and illustrations, the price point of this book makes it an absolute steal.
We have received reports, though, that there are certain printed editions with poor publishing quality. Some people received their book with torn covers, black and white illustrations (when they should be colored), and so on. Hence, make sure only to buy the physical copy from a trusted seller.
- Has a neuroscientific approach
- Based on 25 years of research
- Dense with information
- Reports of poor printing quality received
Liberate yourself from the grips of your mental burdens with the top self help programs for depression. Of all the programs we have featured, though, our favorite has got to be Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems by Daniel Amen MD.
It is dense with information, backed by 25 years’ worth of research, and most of all, it is not as costly as most self-help programs out there.
In the end, however, please feel free to choose the program that speaks out the most to you. Good luck!