The 10 Best Books For Anxiety of 2021, According to an Expert

Help for dealing with racing thoughts

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Our Top Picks

Be Calm at Amazon

"Designed to be used as a reference book, this option is the result of techniques that the author has seen work for her patients."

Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind at Amazon

"A much-needed option for people who are prone to overthinking, it teaches how to prevent anxious thoughts from escalating."

A Liberated Mind at Amazon

"The author uses acceptance commitment therapy to help teach psychological flexibility skills to decrease anxiety symptoms. "

Dialectical Behavior at Amazon

"Dr. David Lawson designed this workbook to address the anxiety caused by personality disorders and overwhelming feelings."

Negative Self Talk and How to Change It at Amazon

"The author condenses his years of experience into a 60-minute read with simple language and effective techniques."

Feeling Better at Amazon

"Ideal for teenagers navigating their unique types of stress, this book offers positive stress management techniques."

Under Pressure at Amazon

"A must for parents or teachers who work with teenage girls, this option tackles specific pressures and anxieties."

How to Be Yourself at Amazon

"This pick teaches readers how to internally access everything they need to be successful in social situations."

Retrain Your Brain at Amazon

"Clinical Psychologist Seth Gillihan shows readers how to recognize anxiety-causing thoughts and replace them."

Anxiety at Amazon

"The read explores the link between grief and anxiety and offers insight on calming anxiety through the right techniques."

In 2020, the American Psychological Association (APA) declared a National Mental Health crisis in America. According to the annual survey that has been conducted by the APA since 2007, stress in America is at an all-time high. Anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental health illness. Forty million adults in the United States, or roughly 18% of the population, are diagnosed with some form of anxiety disorder every year.

Despite the fact that anxiety is very treatable, only about 40% of people who struggle with anxiety receive help. While anxiety is a normal human emotion felt by all people at some point or another, anxiety disorders can make certain aspects of life unmanageable, such as social situations or test-taking at school.

It’s important for each person to find a daily routine and treatment approach that works for them. Some options include talk therapy, meditation, breathing exercises, and a healthy lifestyle routine. Self-help books that target anxiety management can also be a very useful part of the treatment journey. 

Here are the best books for anxiety on the market, all written by experts.

Be Calm

"Be Calm"

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

Pros
  • Quick reference guide

  • Easy to use layout

  • Effective techniques

Cons
  • Not a 'sit down and read' book

  • Title is not discreet

  • Strategies will take practice

Designed to be used more as a reference book rather than as a 'sit down and read' book, “Be Calm” is the result of techniques that author and psychologist Dr. Jill Weber has seen work for her patients after years of observation.

The book can help you find relief from heightened anxiety or panic attacks quickly by using the reference guide to find options for relief in the moment.

Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind

Pros
  • Fun illustrations

  • Easy and entertaining to read

  • Effective strategies

Cons
  • Strategies will take practice

  • Strategies are easy to forget when not practiced

  • Lots of homework

A much-needed option for people who feel like their brains never take a break from the vicious cycle of overthinking and constant worrying. Psychotherapist Jennifer Shannon teaches us to accept how our anxious brains operate, while not allowing the anxious thoughts to escalate and take over all pleasant parts of life. 

A Liberated Mind

Pros
  • Insightful and well-researched

  • Easy to read writing style

  • Effective techniques

Cons
  • Long length at 448 pages

  • Very technical, can be overwhelming to some

  • New concepts take time to practice

This book challenges the traditional views of anxiety by teaching that it is natural to hurt and that we hurt because we care. Learning to listen to the pain rather than avoiding it helps heal it instead of intensifying it.

As a psychotherapist who had an epiphany during a panic attack of his own, author Dr. Steven Hayes uses acceptance and commitment therapy to help teach psychological flexibility skills to greatly decrease painful symptoms of anxiety and make room for the joyful things that matter most in life.

Dialectical Behavior

Pros
  • Highly individualized

  • Effective techniques

  • Very Informative 

Cons
  • Specific to anxiety caused by personality disorders

  • Best used in conjunction with talk therapy

  • Workbooks can make some people feel like they’re back in school

Workbooks are a great way to personalize new strategies and to find techniques that work for you. While it’s best to use workbooks in conjunction with therapy, Dr. David Lawson designed this workbook to address the anxiety caused by personality disorders and feelings of overwhelm when anxiety strikes.

Negative Self Talk and How to Change It

Pros
  • Short, easy read

  • Addresses core cause of anxiety

  • Effective techniques

Cons
  • Short may be confused with ineffective

  • Simple may be confused with ineffective

  • Not suited for treating panic disorders

If anxiety is fire, then negative self-talk is the fuel. After publishing 20 books, Dr. Shad Helmstetter has condensed his years of experience into a 60-minute read. With simple language and effective techniques, this book is made for the busy person who just needs to know what works. 

Expert Advice

“When looking for a good book on the topic of anxiety, one should consider the writer’s credentials as well as the scientific evidence used to back up the information presented. Also, look for a book that focuses on specific issues and symptoms in order to provide more targeted advice”—Anna Travers, LMHC

Feeling Better

Pros
  • Targets teen issues specifically

  • Individualized format

  • Effective techniques

Cons
  • Best used in conjunction with talk therapy

  • Workbooks can feel like schoolwork

  • Teens may struggle with staying focused

Teenagers have unique types of stress due to the phase of life and stages of growth they are navigating. Pressures from school, peers, and future goals can create confusion, stress, and anxiety.

Understanding and implementing positive stress management techniques can help teenagers avoid falling into self-destructive stress management patterns. 

Under Pressure

Pros
  • Very educational

  • Supported by research

  • Important topic

Cons
  • Problem specific

  • Written for adults, not teens

  • Gender specific

Clinical psychologist Lisa DaMour tackles the specific pressures, stress, and heightened feelings of anxieties that girls experience during growth and progression through child and teenage years. This book is a must for parents, teachers, coaches, and anyone who works with teenage girls. Know the warning signs of anxiety and ways to help.

How to Be Yourself

Pros
  • Effective techniques

  • Good stories and humor

  • Easy and entertaining to read

Cons
  • Problem specific

  • Strategies take practice

  • Long length at 304 pages

People who are shy or introverted often struggle with social anxiety. In this book, Dr. Hendriksen teaches readers that they already have everything they need to be successful in social situations, they just need to learn how to access it. Social anxiety can come from the inner critic speaking too loudly. This book shows you how to be yourself and feel good about it.

Retrain Your Brain

Pros
  • Scientifically backed techniques

  • Highly individualized

  • Easy to follow guidance

Cons
  • 7 week time commitment

  • May be too structured for some

  • Works best in conjunction with talk therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most scientifically backed therapy approaches for anxiety management and relief. Clinical Psychologist Seth Gillihan shows readers how to recognize anxiety causing thoughts, stop them, and replace them with sound minded thoughts.

Anxiety

Pros
  • Informative and innovative

  • Easy to read

  • Effective techniques

Cons
  • Very specific niche

  • Can bring up painful memories

  • Can be an overwhelming topic for some

Sometimes the source of our anxiety can come from a surprising source: grief. Licensed therapist Claire Smith explores the often overlooked link between grief and anxiety. When we understand how the two connect, we can begin to calm the anxiety through the right techniques.

Final Verdict

Be Calm: Proven Techniques to Stop Anxiety Now and Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind are two books that offer sound techniques for all anxiety types. These two books are a good place to start in the anxiety healing journey. Be Calm is more serious and will take longer to read, while Stop the Monkey Mind is more entertaining with humor and stories.

What to Look for in Books for Anxiety 

Effective Techniques

While a lot of people have opinions about what works to decrease anxiety, it is always best to stick with authors who are trained in the medical and mental health fields and use techniques that are supported by scientific research.

Easy to Understand Language

A self-help book does not help at all if it is too boring to read all the way through. Look for language that you jive with personally and find easy to understand and implement. Books that combine humor and stories with techniques help us better remember the learned concepts. 

Realistic Length

We're all busy. It’s important to choose a book that fits your current schedule. A lengthy, in-depth book will not help if you are in a chaotic phase of life. A longer, more in-depth book may be helpful if you are carving out time specifically to address your anxiety and wellness. 

Why Trust Verywell Mind? 

As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 15 years of experience working with clients who struggle with mental health issues, Mary Tatum understands the importance of finding quality resources and techniques that work for each person. Not everyone will have the same kind of healing journey, so having many options to choose from is vitally important in creating a lifestyle that combats mental illness and promotes health and wellbeing.  

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Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Psychological Association. Stress in America 2020. Updated October 2020.

  2. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Facts & statistics. Updated February 17, 2021.