Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney makes it on the list of books that will help you feel better.
When it comes to mental health issues, we’re always of the mind that the very best thing you can do is consult a professional to find out what the best possible treatment plan looks like for you. But there are a lot of supplementary activities that can help, from yoga, meditation, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep to being as informed as possible about your condition.
One of the best way to gain a greater understanding? Read. That’s why we rounded up the best books about depression to inform, inspire, and help you feel less alone. Here are 40 books to help kickstart your healing.
Books about depression
Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney
Many people who suffer with depression feel like they are a victim of their own thoughts, trapped in a downward spiral that seems never-ending. It was Nita Sweeney’s passion for running that allowed her to discover her inner strength and push past this type of negative thinking. In this book, Sweeney shares her story with depression and how running healed her mind and transformed her life. Check out Depression Hates a Moving Target here.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.’
This candid memoir reveals Lori Gottlieb’s experiences as both a psychotherapist and patient, so she examines depression from all angles.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone dives into her own internal conflict and her patients’ experiences, which result in the exploration of some thought-provoking questions surrounding love, guilt, courage, hope and more. Check out Maybe You Should Talk to Someone here.
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E.P. Seligman
Many of us have toxic thought patterns that are unknowingly causing us to self-sabotage. It’s this way of thinking that can hinder your happiness and hold you back from reaching your full potential.
Author Martin E.P. Seligman explains how pessimism is destroying lives, and how to shift to a more optimistic mindset. Learned Optimism looks at “explanatory style”—the narrative we tell ourselves about our setbacks and failures—and provides techniques to help take back control of your thinking and develop a healthier, more positive attitude. Check out Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life here.
The Depression Cure by Stephen S. Ilardi, PhD
In today’s fast-paced, hectic world, many people are so focused on work that they don’t make their health and self-care priority. They don’t make time to exercise, get enough sleep, eat properly and the list goes on. Dr. Stephen Ilardi explains that our bodies were never designed to operate under these conditions, and provides a program to help us thrive in the modern world: brain food, antidepressant exercise, healthy sleep habits and more. Check out The Depression Cure here.
10% Happier by Dan Harris
After having a panic attack on national television, journalist Dan Harris realized it was time to self-reflect. To understand the source of his stress, he spoke with numerous self-help gurus, brain scientists and health experts. Harris discovered the problem was the voice in his head; the nonstop mental chatter was the source of his stress.
During his wellness journey, he came across an effective tool to quiet his inner voice: meditation. Harris used meditation to rewire his brain and in this book, he shares the lessons he’s learned and takeaway tips for readers to apply meditation in their own lives. Check out 10% Happier here.
Stand Up to Depression by Kathi Fairbend, M.S., R.P.T
Whether it was from our parents or teachers, “stand up straight” is something we’ve heard all our lives – and as it turns out, good posture can do more than improve your physical health; it can also heal your mind.
With easy-to-follow exercises, this book helps readers harness the power of musculature, and use it to combat the symptoms of depression and transform your mood and energy in the process. Check out Stand Up to Depression here.
Everything Begins with Asking for Help by Kevin Braddock
The first step to healing is the willingness to ask for help. This is true for addiction, anxiety, depression and other types of mental illness.
Author Kevin Braddock knows the debilitating effects of depression firsthand. After having a mental breakdown, he decided it was time to make a change and reached out to his friends for help, an act of courage that kickstarted his recovery. This book teaches readers how to ask for help, what to expect during recovery, and how to protect your mental health. Written from a first person account with research and expert insights, this book is an excellent resource. Check out Everything Begins with Asking for Help here.
This Close to Happy by Daphne Merkin
It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at some point: what’s the secret to happiness? And if you’re struggling with depression, it’s a thought that becomes all consuming.
In this moving memoir, Merkin opens up about her struggles with depression, how it has affected her and those around her. She aims to shatter the stigma around mental illness, offering practical advice and valuable insights for anyone who is currently fighting the same battle. Check out This Close to Happy here.
Feeling Great by David D. Burns
In this book, Dr. David Burns explains how to control your emotions, rather than letting them control you. It requires learning how to become an observer of your thought and feelings. By becoming more in tune with the way you think and feel, you can take your power back. Feeling Great is filled with many inspiring stories, fascinating case studies and practical tools to boost your happiness. Check out Feeling Great here.
Unlearning Anxiety and Depression by Joseph L. Luciani
By viewing anxiety and depression through the lens of habits, you can find a way to break them. Author Joseph L. Luciani explains how to ‘unlearn’ negative thinking patterns and rewire your brain to be happier. He shares a four-step approach he uses with his patients, which utilizes principles of neuroplasticity, cognitive behavioral psychological, and motivational coaching. This book will help you become more aware of your inner critic and stop the cycle of worrying. Check out Unlearning Anxiety and Depression here.
This is Depression by Dr. Diane McIntosh
Using an evidence-based approach, psychiatrist Dr. Diane McIntosh describes depression symptoms and takeaway tips to live a healthier, happier life. This book explores what contributes to depression – genes, life experiences, etc. – how it affects your life, and various treatment options available. Check out This is Depression here.
Your Happiness Toolkit by Carrie M. Wrigley, LCSW
More than helping you heal from depression, this book offers tips for prevention. Filled with research-backed strategies, mental health counselor and author Carrie M. Wrigley aims to help readers learn what causes depression, overcome emotional challenges and become more resilient. Check out Your Happiness Toolkit here.
The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb, PhD
This book dives into the neuroscience behind depression, looking at what’s going on in our brains and how this mental illness affects our thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Author Alex Korb, PhD explains the steps you can take to change your brain chemistry such as muscle relaxation techniques, connecting to nature and more. Small shifts can make a major difference. Check out The Upward Spiral here.
The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is well-known for helping enhance your overall well-being and this is especially true for people with depression. Using expert-backed mindfulness techniques, you can rewire your negative thinking patterns. This book combines Eastern meditative traditions and cognitive therapy to help you improve your mental habits and find inner peace. Check out The Mindful Way Through Depression here.
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Dr. Daniel Amen
If you’re struggling with anxious thoughts and negative thinking, Neuropsychiatrist Daniel Amen, M.D. offers tools to help you quiet your mind. Using cutting-edge research from thousands of brain scans, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life can help you fight depression, stop obsessive worrying, manage impulsiveness, and improve focus. Check out Change Your Brain, Change Your Life here.
The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-Step Program by William J. Knaus
As one of the most popular treatments for depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is proven to help minimize depressive symptoms and limiting beliefs that are holding you back. This workbook contains a CBT program with evidence-based tools to help you manage with stress and anxiety, and positive coping mechanisms to keep depression at bay. Check out The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression here.
Depression-Free, Naturally by Joan Mathews Larson, Ph.D.
In this book, author Joan Mathews Larson, Ph.D. provides tools to take back control of your emotions and achieve peace of mind. Depression-Free, Naturally outlines seven weeks to emotional healing, which includes: helping you spot the signs of depression, make healthier food choices, stabilize your mood and more. Check out Depression-Free, Naturally here.
The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living by Russ Harris
In our quest for happiness, author Russ Harris explains how many of us do the complete opposite of what we should be doing. The Happiness Trap is filled with ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) techniques, a new psychotherapy that helps readers become more mindful, less stressed and teaches them how to stop self-sabotaging behavior. Check out The Happiness Trap here.
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
This bestseller looks at depression from all angles: personal, cultural and scientific. Author Andrew Solomon shares his own battle with depression and speaks to other people experiencing the same struggles. Along with explaining the science behind depression, he offers takeaway tips and treatment options readers can apply in their daily lives. Check out The Noonday Demon here.
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
It’s no secret that chronic stress can lead to a long list of health problems, and depression is at the top of the list. If we don’t find ways to manage stress, it makes us more prone to mental illness and disease. In this book, Jon Kabat-Zinn offers mindfulness-based stress reduction exercises, and explains how to utilize meditation and yoga to combat stress. Check out Full Catastrophe Living here.
Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope by Johann Hari
After suffering from depression for many years, Johann Hari was determined to learn more about mental illness and traveled around the world interviewing experts in the field. Lost Connections analyzes the causes of depression, describes symptoms and provides solutions that will leave readers feeling enlightened and empowered. Check out Lost Connections here.
A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives by Kelly Brogan, M.D., and Kristin Loberg
Dr. Kelly Brogan is against antidepressants, since they can hinder the body’s natural self-healing capabilities. She believes that in order to cure the mind, we must cure the body.
In this book, Dr. Brogan breaks down the problems with conventional medicine, offering extensive research and medical findings. She sheds light on the root of depression; explaining that it’s more than a chemical imbalance, but a lifestyle imbalance. Dr. Brogan offers a 30-day step by step program to help you heal from the inside out. Check out A Mind of Your Own here.
Tears to Triumph: Spiritual Healing for the Modern Plagues of Anxiety and Depression by Marianne Williamson
World-renowned spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson believes that true healing can only take place by looking within. Avoiding the pain will only prolong the problem, which is why it’s necessary to face our inner demons head on.
In Tears to Triumph, Williamson explains that the pain is there to teach us something, if we’re willing to lean in to it and push through. In doing so, you can achieve a greater sense of inner peace and self-awareness. Check out Tears to Triumph here.
Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greenberger, PhD and Christine A. Padesky, PhD
Don’t be fooled by your low mood! You are more than your negative emotions.
Through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, this book helps readers calm their mind and become more confident. Depression tends to have a negative ripple effect on all areas of life: relationships, career, physical health and so on. Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky outline how to set goals, become more mindful, and practice self-acceptance. Check out Mind Over Mood here.
You Are Not Alone: Words of Experience and Hope for the Journey Through Depression by Julia Thorne
Depression can feel very isolating. And when you’re going through it, it’s common to feel alone. But the truth is many people are facing the same struggles.
You Are Not Alone contains conversations with people battling depression who open up about their fears, worries, and also their ability to rise above their low moods. With each story, readers will see there are many people suffering with the same issues and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Check out You Are Not Alone here.
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman
Oliver Burkeman turns depression on its head in The Antidote. This book is perfect for people who aren’t fans of traditional self-help books, explaining that there is an alternative path to happiness. Burkeman offers a counterintuitive approach to healing, inviting readers to embrace their fears, failures and negative emotions. The takeaway: stop striving for happiness. Let go of your attachment to it, surrender to the unknown and that is when you will discover what it means to be happy. Check out TThe Antidote here.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Ever felt the pressure to be perfect? In our quest to succeed, many of us fall into the perfectionism trap and become overwhelmed by the stress that comes along with it. That’s what happened to Craig Gilner. Ned Vizzini tells a story of a boy who went down the dark hole of drugs and depression, which ultimately led to a suicide attempt. As a result, he checked himself into a mental hospital where he learned how to accept himself and heal. Check out It’s Kind of a Funny Story here.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Written from a candid and humorous perspective, Haig shares his experiences the hope of inspiring readers who are also going through depression. The main message is to focus on hope. There is always a silver lining, you just have to be in the present and believe that things will get better. Shifting to this mindset is the first step to healing. Check out Reasons to Stay Alive here.
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison
Not only is Dr. Jamison an expert on bipolar disorder, she has also lived through it. She experienced the same highs and lows that affected her patients. Her mental illness took some surprising and scary turns, which she shares in An Unquiet Mind. Written from a dual perspective, this memoir is both insightful and empowering. Check out An Unquiet Mind here.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
In this book, Jenny Lawson describes her own experiences with depression and how she emerged stronger on the other side. Since depression is often an invisible illness, there are more people than you realize who are suffering. Furiously Happy offers something for everyone regardless of where you’re at on your healing journey. While Lawson talks a lot about depression, the core of the book is how to find happiness and joy. Check out Furiously Happy here.
Undoing Depression by Richard O’Connor, PhD
Whether it’s genetic, biochemical or environmental, depression can be caused by numerous factors In Undoing Depression, O’Connor focuses on how our habits contribute to our mental state. Specifically, he offers a holistic approach to healing, teaches us how to break negative patterns and replace them with skills to ‘undo’ depression. Check out Undoing Depression here.
Depression, the Mood Disease by Francis Mark Mondimore, MD
Dr. Francis Mark Mondimore discusses depression in great detail, including causes, symptoms, treatment and takeaway tips for readers to live a healthier life. This book is packed with research to help readers learn more about the affect of antidepressants, the connection between the brain and mood, and more. Check out Depression, the Mood Disease here.
Darkness Visible by William Styron
This inspiring memoir reveals William Styron’s battle with depression and his recovery journey. Styron doesn’t hold back, sharing some of his darkest moments. But as scary as those moments were, he learned the value of the simple things (hearing a song in his case) which helped transformed his entire outlook. Check out Darkness Visible here.
Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression by Sally Brampton
To the outside world, Sally Brampton had it all: an award-winning journalist who launched Elle magazine in the UK, a glamorous and impressive career. But behind the scenes, Brampton was depressed, suffering from depression and alcoholism. This book is a refreshingly honest portrayal about one woman’s ability to fight her inner demons, while also addressing the stigma of depression and how to better understand this mental illness. Check out Shoot the Damn Dog here.
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey, M.D.
The mind and body are closely linked, and John J. Ratey, M.D., explains how to utilize the mind-body connection to overcome depression, addiction, ADD and more. Spark contains many different case studies that examine how exercise affects the brain. The bottom line: get moving. Your mind will thank you. Check out Spark here.
How to Be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad): A Creative Workbook by Lee Crutchley
Filled with practical tips and engaging prompts, this book will help reframe your perspective and shift from pessimism to optimism. Lee Crutchley gives readers the tools to see things from a positive point of view, and appreciate the simple things and joy in daily life. Check out How to Be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad) here.
Happy, Okay? by M.J Fievre
If you’re looking for something unique, this poetry book is beautifully written while also sending a powerful message about mental health. M.J. Fievre invites readers to let go of the depression stigma and start loving and believing in yourself. Happy Okay? helps readers see that happiness is a choice and how to start embracing a more optimistic mindset. Check out Happy Okay? here.
Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve by Stanley Rosenberg
With various self-help exercises, Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve teaches readers how to control the vagus nerve to promote full mind and body relaxation. Beneficial for anyone struggling with depression and mental illness, this book illustrates how to activate the body’s natural ability to heal. Check out Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve here.
Perfectly Hidden Depression by Margaret Robinson Rutherford, PH.S.
Calling all perfectionists! This book speaks to those who have a tough time expressing their emotions for the fear of looking weak. Author Margaret Robinson Rutherford, PH.S. explains this will only lead to self-criticism and shame, and how perfectly hidden depression (PHD) can destroy your life. Perfectly Hidden Depression will help you understand what’s causing your perfectionism and observe limiting beliefs in order to kickstart the healing process. Check out Perfectly Hidden Depression here.
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Mind Easing by Bick Wanck, M.D.
This book demonstrates the mind’s powerful ability to heal itself. Bick Wanck shares three layers of healing: enhancement of healing, guidance and restoration of healing. Through the use of psychotherapy, body and energy work and spiritual advice, he helps readers see they have the power to take back control of their health. Check out Mind Easing here.
How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink (Running Depression and Anxiety Therapy, Bipolar)
It’s never too late to chase your dreams. Before she discovered running, Nita Sweeney was 49-years-old, chronically depressed, occasionally manic, and unable to jog for more than 60 seconds at a time. Using exercise, Nita discovered an inner strength she didn’t know she possessed, and with the help of her canine companion, she found herself on the way to completing her first marathon. In her memoir, Sweeney shares how she overcame emotional and physical challenges to finish the race and come back from the brink.