Books about Depression (9 Great books)

In today’s blog post, we take a review of ‘Books about Depression’. We start by taking into consideration the use of books for therapeutic purposes. This would then be accompanied by recommendations of different books that can be used as an aid to therapy and help in coping with depression. Lastly, we would take a brief overview of the effect of reading books during depression.

Consciously or unconsciously, books have been used since a long time to aid therapeutic relief. It has been seen that even authors have found solace in books when they suffered from depression or any other mental illness. 

Books about depression:

The impact of reading a book when depressed may not show overt changes or results, but it can certainly help a depressed person feel less lonely, isolated and burdensome, when the person gets to understand that there have been people who have had the same or similar experiences, showing them that there may be light at the end of the tunnel. The books also motivate the person to try out newer ways of coping with their conditions.

Some books that we will review in today’s post are:

  • The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs’ by Stephen Ilardi, PhD
  • ‘The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness’
  • ‘The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time’ by Neuroscientist Alex Korb, PhD
  • ‘The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking’ by Oliver Burkeman
  • The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-Step Program by William. J. Knaus
  • Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David.D. Burns M.D.
  • The NoonDay Demon: The Atlas Of Depression by Andrew Solomon
  • Body Full of Stars by  Molly Caro May
  • The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Bibliotherapy:

Bibliotherapy is a therapeutic approach that uses books or literature as a way of improving mental health as well as maintaining mental health. It is commonly used in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches and is widely used as it is cost effective. Studies on this approach have suggested that bibliotherapy has been successful in treating mild to moderate symptoms of mental illnesses. This approach can be used in individual therapy as well as group therapy, and can be used across all age groups.

The use of literature for the purpose of healing dates back to ancient Greece, where the Grecian libraries were seen as having therapeutic powers. 

In the 19th Century,physicians Benjamin Rush and Minson Galt II started using this method to aid the process of rehabilitation and treatment of mental health issues. The formal definition of bibliotherapy was established in 1916 by Samuel Carothers, in The Atlantic Monthly. It was defined as the process of using books to teach those receiving medical care for their conditions. The Illustrated Medical Dictionary then recognised bibliotherapy as a form of mental health treatment. 

Today, bibliotherapy is widely used by educators, mental health professionals, librarians and parents due to its versatility and adaptability.

Forms of this approach:

This approach has several forms

  • Prescriptive bibliotherapy:

Also known as self-help, this form of bibliotherapy uses activities and workbooks to address various mental health concerns. This form may or may not require the guidance of a therapist. 

  • Books on prescription:

This form of bibliotherapy uses specific books and other reading material targeting specific mental health concerns. These books are often prescribed or suggested by the mental health professionals. These books may cover a variety of topics such as grief, divorce, self-esteem, books about depression etc.

  • Creative bibliotherapy:

Creative bibliotherapy uses a number of imaginative and creative forms of literature such as novels, short stories, poetry, plays or biographies. This form of bibliotherapy focuses on improving the psychological well-being. With the help of specific forms of literature, therapists can guide the client towards self-discovery. This form is most useful when the client is able to relate to a character, story, a narrative and is able to gain insight from it. 

Uses of bibliotherapy:

Bibliotherapy has been used in order to support the treatment of a variety of issues such as self-esteem, depression, facing developmental crisis, mild alcohol abuse, anxiety, eating disorders and communication issues. 

It has also been used to treat family issues, post traumatic stress and grief. In addition it can also be used with other treatment modalities such as art based therapy, play therapy, rational emotive behaviour therapy, humanistic therapy etc.

Bibliotherapy and depression:

Bibliotherapy can be used quite effectively for the treatment of depression, in terms of using books about depression.. It is seen to work well with individuals showing mild to moderate depressive symptoms. With these levels of symptoms, it can be used as the only form of therapy or can be used in conjunction with other therapies. It is suggested that individuals over the age of 12 years who have depression are more likely to benefit from bibliotherapy. 

The process occurs in the following way. 

  • The client and the therapist discuss the role of bibliotherapy in helping with the client’s problem. 
  • Reasonable expectations of what needs to be done by the client and what kind of outcomes can be expected are established. 
  • As bibliotherapy is a form of self-help, the client needs to be actively involved in the entire process. 
  • This initial session should be used to establish a good therapeutic relationship with the client, along with devising a plan of treatment and the date for follow-up.
  • A follow-up is done approximately 2 weeks after the initial session. This session is done in order to understand any difficulties the client may be experiencing with the book for depression that has been recommended. The client’s problems are dealt with support and empathy.
  • At this stage the client’s motivation and acceptance of the therapy is also reviewed as further therapeutic goals will depend on the current level of motivation.
  • The therapeutic contract is usually done for a week which is then accompanied by a follow-up, 3 months later.
  • A weekly follow-up can be done through a telephone call or an email.
  • The duration of bibliotherapy must depend on the client;s presenting problems, symptoms and the willingness and motivation for this form of therapy.
  • There is no fixed duration for bibliotherapy to take place, but usually it takes place in a span of 4 weeks. This duration can differ, based on the contract decided together by the client and the therapist.

The therapist however needs to maintain caution, that bibliotherapy may not be useful for a client who may have a limited reading capacity or may not be interested in reading.

Books that can be beneficial for depression:

Here we present a comprehensive list of books for depression that can help people cope with the symptoms. It is necessary to note that this is not an exhaustive list and there can be a number of books that can be used for a variety of issues. 

  • The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs’ by Stephen Ilardi, PhD

This book on depression covers the basics of depression and talks about the different treatment modalities that can be used which have been inspired by the populations of Kaluli of Papua, New Guinea.

  • ‘The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness’

This book focuses on mindfulness and how mindfulness can be used to combat the negative thought process, which can be useful for coping with depression.

  • ‘The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time’ by Neuroscientist Alex Korb, PhD

This book on depression discusses the brain processes responsible for depression and also talks about neuroscience research that can be helped to rewire the brain towards more positive thoughts.

  • ‘The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking’ by Oliver Burkeman

This book on depression takes a more existential approach and explains how taking into consideration the negative feelings and iterating them in one’s life can actually be uplifting.

  • The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-Step Program by William. J. Knaus
  • The book revolves around CBT. This workbook can be used by the clients to identify their depression as well as the techniques to cope with it. It consists of worksheets, helpful prompts and exercises.
  • Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David.D. Burns M.D.

The author, in a manner easy to understand explains the way our mind distorts the thoughts which can then lead to depression, anxiety and anger. The book also offers a series of mental health exercises and challenges that the readers can use to consciously challenge their negative thoughts to replace it with positive thoughts.

  • The NoonDay Demon: The Atlas Of Depression by Andrew Solomon

This book on depression explains mental illness from the personal experiences of the author and also incorporates science and history to provide a well defined picture of depression.

  • Body Full of Stars by  Molly Caro May

It is a book based on the experiences of the author about postpartum depression. It sheds light on the isolation a woman may feel after the birth of her child, bringing to forefront the neglect that is given to the mental health of new mothers. 

  • The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

It is a coming-of-the-age book on depression that narrates the journey of the main character, Charlie, who is recovering from the suicide of a friend. The book talks about his struggles to make his place in a new surrounding with dating, new friends, family conflict and his past trauma

  • Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

The book depicts the author’s lifelong battle with depression and anxiety. The novel aims at discussing these serious issues by viewing them from a humorous point of view. It will not only make the reader laugh, but also lead to the realisation that they are not alone in the struggle. 

The effect of books about depression:

Although, in most cases, bibliotherapy may not be able to replace the traditional therapy, it helps facilitate the process by helping the client understand that he or she is not alone in facing what they are and that there are others like them who have overcome depression. The books are also successful in providing different ideas and techniques that can help the person deal with their condition better. It also helps change their perspective towards their condition and may feel more motivated to be actively involved in therapy. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Books about depression

Are books good for mental health?

Reading a good book has shown to reduce stress levels. Research by Dr. Davis Lewis has shown that stress levels can reduce to upto 60% with the reduction of the heart rate, easing of muscle tension and altering the state of mind. 

What is the major cause of depression?

There are many possible causes of depression, such as problems with mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems.

Is bibliotherapy evidence based?

Bibliotherapy has been found to be effective as suggested by several systematic reviews and meta analyses and proven to be useful for treating emotional, physical and mental health problems in adults. 

What is cognitive bibliotherapy?

Cognitive bibliotherapy is an effective treatment of subthreshold depression.Cognitive bibliotherapy consists of books about depression that can be used as a potential alternative or adjunct to psychotherapy for mildly depressed adults.

Can reading be therapeutic?

Reading can be therapeutic in nature. Purposeful reading – or reading with the intention of increased comprehension – can help achieve a sense of well-being.

Conclusion:

In today’s blog post, we took a review of ‘Books about Depression’. We started by taking into consideration the use of books for therapeutic purposes. This was then accompanied by recommendations of different books that can be used as an aid to therapy and help in coping with depression. Lastly, we took a brief overview of the effect of reading books during depression.

I hope this blog post was effective in making constructive recommendations about the books that can be used for depression. Please drop your comments or queries in the box below.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References:

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/g28069900/books-about-depression/?slide=1

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/bibliotherapy

https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2013/april/bibliotherapy-for-depression/#:~:text=What%20is%20bibliotherapy%3F-,Bibliotherapy%20is%20a%20form%20of%20guided%20self%2Dhelp.,concerns%20the%20patient%20may%20have.

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/best-books-depression#The-Antidote:-Happiness-for-People-Who-Cant-Stand-Positive-Thinking

https://www.bestcounselingdegrees.net/resources/depression-self-help-books/

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/g32475528/best-books-about-depression/

https://unsplash.com/photos/eMP4sYPJ9x0?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

https://unsplash.com/photos/XqXJJhK-c08?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

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