Depression and anxiety can be crippling. Anyone who suffers from either or both of these mental health disorders needs all the help they can get, whether it comes from friends, loved ones, professionals, or books. Of course, there is no replacement for in-person psychotherapy, but having a self-help book on your nightstand can help you in those moments when your therapist can't be there. The best self-help books for depression and anxiety are additional tools you can use every day to help you manage mental illness.
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith
Reason number one to read this book: there is a monkey on the cover. Other than that, this book by Daniel Smith recounts his personal experiences with anxiety in a humorous and relatable way. A bunch of scientific and medical terminologies and data won't help a person feel better, but having a conversation can. That's what it feels like reading Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety—talking to a friend.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by Dr. David D. Burns
Dr. David D. Burns has written extensively on the subject of mental illness. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy is a handbook for how to combat anxiety, depression, and other negative feelings and attitudes on a daily basis. Burns introduces his readers to tips for not only handling, but altering their mental state. He firmly believes in the power of changing one's perspective and making the active choice to live a happier life. It's also backed by research, so it is one of the more credible best self-help books for depression and anxiety.
The Anxiety Toolkit: Strategies for Fine-Tuning Your Mind and Moving Past Your Stuck Points by Dr. Alice Boyes
The Anxiety Toolkit by Dr. Alice Boyes doesn't just confront the symptoms of anxiety and depression, she tackles the causes. (Of course, clinical anxiety or panic disorder are the result of genetics, but the mindset and behavior that comes from that can be improved.) This book establishes perfectionism, fear of failure, self-criticism, and over-thinking as some of the core issues at the heart of anxiety. What follows is a guide on how to deal with those things and lessen your anxiety.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
Again, if there's a happy and mildly freaky red panda on the cover of a self-help book, how can you not want to read it? Since millions of people suffer from mental illness every day, there needs to be some room allowed for humor. People with anxiety and depression already have enough to worry and be serious about. Furiously Happy injects some laughter into the reader's life, and you know what they say about laughter—it's the best medicine. That's what makes Jenny Lawson's book one of the best self0help books for depression and anxiety.
The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, & Jon Kabat-Zinn
Treating depression can't be done with only one tool, but one of the most important tools there is for dealing with it is mindfulness. Books like this one, as well as various religions around the world, consider mindfulness to be critical to inner peace and happiness. This book also comes with a CD of guided meditations from author Jon Kabat-Zinn to help you calm your mind and turn the ideas presented in the book into practice.
Anxiety as an Ally: How I Turned a Worried Mind into My Best Friend by Dan Ryckert
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from my therapist was to learn to "make friends" with my negative feelings. Often, people try their hardest to avoid confronting what makes them feel upset or angry. It's not fun to deal with emotional pain. However, treating it like an enemy is only going to create more tension and struggle within yourself. Therefore, the best option is to make the effort to understand your negative feelings and welcome them; it's OK to not be OK.
That's precisely what Dan Ryckert offers in his book, Anxiety as an Ally. Someone who suffers from panic, he walks you through how he ended up making friends with his disorder and ultimately getting what he wanted out of life. This unique approach to helping his readers is what makes his memoir one of the best self-help books for depression and anxiety.
When Panic Attacks: The New Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life by Dr. David D. Burns
I told you Dr. David D. Burns was a prolific writer in this field of study. Aside from Feeling Good, he has also written a book on panic disorder called When Panic Attacks (get it?). In it, Burns outlines the types of thinking that are conducive to inducing panic attacks. Of course, this wouldn't be a self-help book if he didn't give you answers on how to uproot that kind of thinking and change your behavior.
When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner
Unlike some of the other best self-help books for depression and anxiety on this list, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is not a guide written by a medical expert. Rather, it is a reflection on life—both the author's personal life and life in general—that keeps you company when you're feeling down or like you've been thrown for a loop.
If you're dealing with anxiety and depression, grab this title. This book is a meditation on tragedy and human suffering, and attempts to provide you with a friendly hand to hold when you're going through hard times.
The Illustrated Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living by Russ Harris & Bev Aisbett
Like The Mindful Way Through Depression, The Illustrated Happiness Trap impresses upon the reader the importance of mindfulness in lessening anxiety and depression. What makes this self-help book stand out is its visual approach. So if you're more of a visual learner, then this is a great pick for you. Visualization is also a key part of therapy, so it works on multiple levels.
The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-By-Step Program by William J. Knaus
The term "workbook" isn't figurative here. This book is literally designed to help you work through your anxiety and depression step-by-step, almost like a math problem. This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're someone who feels like they have zero direction, it can definitely be a great place to start. You can also use this book with someone else, like a friend, a partner, or a therapist.
Despite all of this collective knowledge and guidance, when a list of the best self-help books for depression and anxiety is said and done, there is still room for other types of help. Please be sure to research all of your treatment options thoroughly and consult a therapist or doctor if you feel like you have a serious mental illness.