The top 5 best books to read on depression have been selected based on recommendations of top mental health professionals. These books are on Amazon’s bestseller list under the depression category. Depression has been called the world’s number one public health problem and is so widespread it is considered the common cold of mental illnesses. Two ways of treating depression are with antidepressants and cognitive therapy. Studies have shown that cognitive therapy (or cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT]) can be at least as effective as drugs, and for many patients appear to be more effective. Given this scenario, although you may need to undergo several sessions of cognitive therapy with your psychiatrist, reading these books will help you understand better how to self-regulate your mood, self-esteem, pessimistic thoughts, hopelessness, feelings of guilt, etc.
5 Best Self-Improvement Books for Battling Depression
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
by Dr. David Burns
When I was diagnosed with depression way back in 1995, my psychiatrist gifted me this book to read, which is in my opinion, one of the top 5 best books to read on depression. It was a bestseller then and even now Amazon lists it as #1 Best Seller in Depression as well as Mood Disorders category, and the book has sold more than 6 million copies. David Burns, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, conveys in simple language, innovative and effective methods for overcoming painfully depressed moods and reducing debilitating anxiety.
The book covers the theory and research on mood disorders, practical applications, tips on how to prevent and attain personal growth, and coping with stress. You will also find useful sections on Consumer′s Guide To Antidepressant Drugs as well as an introduction to the many options available for treating depression (Burns, 2008). Michael Yapko, a clinical psychologist, and a popular lecturer and author on depression, in recommending this book, says, “It is a great, simple explanation of cognitive-behavioral therapy.” (Levine, 2017)
Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think
by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky
This book is by award-winning clinical psychologists and is one of the best books to read on depression. With over a million copies sold in 23 languages, it is rated in the Top 10 bestsellers on Amazon in the categories of depression and mood disorders. Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky have distilled the wisdom and science of psychotherapy and written an easily understandable manual for change that can truly change your life (Greenberger & Padesky, 2016, p. Foreword). Based on over 40 years of front-line research, Drs. Greenberger and Padesky show how your thoughts affect your feelings and teach step-by-step skills so you can free yourself from painful moods.
Mind Over Mood teaches you strategies, methods, and skills that have been shown to be helpful with mood problems such as depression, anxiety, anger, panic, jealousy, guilt, and shame. This book is designed to teach you skills in a step-by-step fashion, so you can rapidly make the changes that are important to you. The book’s structure, along with Helpful Hints and troubleshooting guides on how to navigate common “stuck points,” helps readers successfully apply CBT principles so they can resolve their problems and experience greater happiness and life satisfaction.
Depression, the Mood Disease
by Dr. Francis Mondimore
Justifying its inclusion in the top 5 best books to read on depression, the third edition of this widely acclaimed book by Dr. Francis Mondimore, a professor at Johns Hopkins, discusses clearly in an engaging fashion the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of depression and bipolar disorder. This is not a “self-help” book. Perhaps it is closer in style and content to a “consumer’s guide.”
This book will help people with depression and other mood disorders understand their illness and their treatment so they can get the fullest benefit from all available types of therapy. But, as the introduction to the book notes, “you will find this volume informative and comforting, but don’t think it can substitute for medical treatment! Remember, it is a consumer’s guide, not a repair manual. Read the book and make an appointment to see your doctor. Today.” (Mondimore, 2006)
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
by Andrew Solomon
Making it to the top 5 best books on depression is The Noonday Demon, which examines depression in personal, cultural, and scientific terms. The author Andrew Solomon is a professor of psychology at Columbia University, president of PEN American Center, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, NPR, and The New York Times Magazine. He is the winner of the 2001 National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His TED talks have been viewed over ten million times. Drawing on his own struggles with the illness and interviews with fellow sufferers, doctors, and scientists, policymakers and politicians, drug designers and philosophers, Andrew Solomon reveals the subtle complexities and sheer agony of the disease. He confronts the challenge of defining the illness and describes the vast range of available medications, the efficacy of alternative treatments, and the impact the malady has on various demographic populations — around the world and throughout history (Solomon, 2015, p. Back Cover).
The book also explores the thorny patch of moral and ethical questions posed by emerging biological explanations for mental illness. The NYT Book Review called it “An exhaustively researched, provocative, and often deeply moving survey of depression.”
The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness, a simple yet powerful way of paying attention to your most difficult emotions and life experiences, can help you break the cycle of chronic unhappiness once and for all. The mindfulness practices taught in this book, one of the top 5 best books on depression, can help you take a wholly different approach to the endless cycles of mental strategizing that increase your risk of getting depressed. In fact, they can help you disengage from this entire pattern of mental activity. Cultivating mindfulness can help you let go both of past regrets and worries about the future (Williams, et al., 2007, p. Introduction).
In The Mindful Way through Depression, four uniquely qualified experts explain why our usual attempts to “think” our way out of a bad mood or just “snap out of it” lead us deeper into the downward spiral. Through insightful lessons drawn from both Eastern meditative traditions and cognitive therapy, they demonstrate how to sidestep the mental habits that lead to despair, including rumination and self-blame, so you can face life’s challenges with greater resilience. The accompanying CD has guided meditations.
“For depression sufferers, this is a truly useful guide to achieving emotional balance. For mental health professionals, it should be mandatory reading. I recommend this book and companion CD most highly,” says Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author of Emotional Intelligence.
- Burns, D., 2008. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. 2nd Revised ed. New York: HarperCollins.
- Greenberger, D. & Padesky, C., 2016. Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think. 2nd ed. New York: The Guilford Press.
- Levine, D., 2017. Mental Health Experts Recommend Their Favorite Depression Books. [Online]
Available at: https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2017-08-29/mental-health-experts-recommend-their-favorite-depression-books
[Accessed 9 Sep 2019].
- Mondimore, F., 2006. Depression: The Mood Disease. 3rd ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Solomon, A., 2015. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. New ed. New York: Scribner.
- Williams, M., Teasdale, J., Segal, Z. & Kabat-Zinn, J., 2007. The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness. 1st ed. New York: The Guilford Press.