The 11 Best Books for Depression of 2022, According to an Expert

Find solace and healing in "This is Depression"

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Depression affects both the mind and the body and is much more than just feeling sad for a while. It squashes motivation for even the simplest of tasks and creates feelings of hopelessness and despair. Like a barometer, depression tells us that something is wrong, but it doesn’t tell us what is wrong. Complicating the condition is the fact that it is experienced differently by each person, so an individualized treatment plan is essential for recovery.

Reviewed & Approved

Written by psychiatrist Dr. Diane McIntosh, we recommend "This is Depression" because it explains the intricacies of the illness in an accessible and compassionate voice and discusses available treatment options. We also like "Feeling Great" by Dr. David D. Burns for a unique perspective on how to manage depression and anxiety.

Self-help books can be a useful tool in the overall picture of successful treatment. They can be used alone but shouldn't substitute for treatment options like talk therapy and medication. We recommend sourcing books authored by licensed medical and mental health professionals. These experts have the training and experience to bring evidence-based techniques to the general public. The best books on depression use easy-to-follow and engaging language that resonates with you.

Here is a list of the best books for depression, according to experts.

This Is Depression

This Is Depression

Courtesy of Amazon

The first step to healing depression is understanding exactly what it is. In this book, psychiatrist Diane McIntosh explains its many facets as well as various treatment options available to help the reader make confident decisions about what treatment to pursue. Writing with compassion and humor, Dr. McIntosh brings evidence-based approaches in an accessible and engaging format.

An important benefit of understanding depression is being able to explain it and discuss it with friends, family members, and health care professionals. One of the most effective antidotes to depression is having an understanding and supportive community. This book aims to be a guide on the path out of a debilitating illness.

Price at time of publication: $18

What Experts Say

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a serious medical illness that affects the ways you think, feel, and act. It causes feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Along with other symptoms, it impacts your ability to function at work or home and lasts longer than a period of two weeks. These symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. The risk factors for depression can include genetic make-up, brain chemistry, environmental factors, poor diet, vitamin deficiency, a toxic relationship, loss, self-deprecating thought patterns, poor sleep, long-term loneliness, and lack of good physical activity. 

Dr. Burns wrote this book after 40 years of research and over 40,000 hours spent treating people who struggle with depression as a psychiatrist. This theory of treatment looks at being able to listen to negative thoughts as important messages from your body rather than feelings to be completely avoided.

The book addresses depression in two ways: simultaneously decreasing depressed feelings while increasing positive feelings to bring faster relief.

Price at time of publication: $20

“Learned Hopefulness” comes straight out of the field of positive psychology, which is gaining a lot of popularity in the talk therapy world. Restoring a sense of hope in one’s future is a foundational challenge in depression management and recovery.

Dr. Tomasulo addresses this problem head-on by helping people identify their strengths, begin practicing from a place of hope, and challenging the self-deprecating voice of depression that lives in depressing thoughts.

Price at time of publication: $17

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple

Amazon

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a very commonly used talk therapy technique designed to identify irrational and negative thoughts and replace them with sound-minded and motivating thoughts.

Dr. Gillihan uses a holistic approach to help readers identify patterns of thought that are holding them back from their goals and to move them toward feelings of happiness and purpose, helping them achieve their desired goals in both work and family life.

Price at time of publication: $16

Unlearning Anxiety & Depression

Unlearning Anxiety & Depression

Amazon

In this book, Dr. Luciani asks the very important question: What if anxiety and depression are learned habits that can be broken? Since thoughts and daily routines are indeed habits, he explores the effect changing our habits can have on our mood and asks what habits they could be replaced by.

Dr. Luciani's approach argues that healthier thought and living habits can lead to happier feelings.

Price at time of publication: $15

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Amazon

If there was ever proof that helpers are not above needing help themselves at times, this book is it. Therapist Lori Gottlieb tells of working with patients who are struggling while she is also wrestling with her own heartbreak. This book offers layers of intertwined stories about people struggling with emotions that result from life showing up in some of the most difficult ways.

Price at time of publication: $28

Your Happiness Toolkit: 16 Strategies for Overcoming Depression, and Building a Joyful, Fulfilling Life

Your Happiness Toolkit: 16 Strategies for Overcoming Depression, and Building a Joyful, Fulfilling Life

Amazon

A lot of the confusion surrounding depression is about not knowing what to do about it. This book is exactly what the title suggests: a toolkit of options for various situations and feelings that arise. With techniques included for people in drug and alcohol recovery, this book focuses on drug-free methods to decrease feelings of despair and even panic when unexpected problems are presented and works to develop skills to help prevent feelings of depression in the future. 

Price at time of publication: $20

101 Ways to Be Less Stressed

101 Ways to Be Less Stressed

Amazon

Feelings of anxiety and depression are often triggered and heightened by too much or poorly managed stress. Dr. Caroline Leaf is a neuroscientist and guru in mind and brain health. This book offers many strategies to experiment with and determine which ones are most helpful for each person.

Price at time of publication: $15

Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving

Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving

Amazon

Grief and depression are two very different things, but sometimes grief can trigger bouts of depression. Learning to manage and process grief can help prevent future episodes of depression and provide a clearer sense of direction through the healing process. Psychotherapist Julia Samuel provides both stories and sound guidance to navigate the complicated healing journey of grieving.

Price at time of publication: $18

Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts

Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts

Amazon

Does your brain decide to remind you of all the embarrassing stuff you’ve ever done just as you’re about to fall asleep? Intrusive thoughts are brutal and play a huge role in the experience of depression and anxiety.

Psychotherapist Sally Winston teaches how to take back control of your brain and quickly curb intrusive thoughts from ruining a good day or a good night’s sleep

Price at time of publication: $18

Essential Art Therapy Exercises

Essential Art Therapy Exercises

Amazon

Creative people need creative outlets. Certified art therapist Leah Guzman answers that need beautifully with this book. Creativity has been shown to soothe the mind, create new spaces of self-awareness, and create new, positive pathways in the brain. If you’re an artistic creative, this book is definitely worth looking into.

Price at time of publication: $19

Final Verdict

“This is Depression” by Diane McIntosh is a helpful place to start to best understand depression either for yourself or a loved one who is struggling. When depression is understood, a plan of action can then be created. If depression is a known struggle for you, try adding a new technique to your management routine or use self-help books to add depth to your therapy sessions.

What to Look for in Books About Depression

Easy to Read

How many times have you picked up a self-help book only to feel overwhelmed by the language or not quite compelled enough to continue turning the pages? When looking for a book about depression, choose one that resonates with you and keeps you engaged. Gentle, understanding text that’s infused with real-world anecdotes, humor, and analogies is often easier to read.

Expert Advice

While it's helpful to hear perspectives on depression from a spectrum of people, it's often best to choose a book penned by a mental health expert. A mental health expert is someone who has been medically trained, has personal experience working with many types of people with depression, and has likely put in thousands of hours into the topic.

Helpful Techniques

Walking away from a book more equipped to understand, handle, and help cope with depression means that your time was well-spent reading those pages. Books written by credentialed mental health practitioners often contain a handful of effective techniques to help with the above. What's more, many of these techniques are based on science and research, which means they're evidence-based versus opinion.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is reading good for depression?

    Yes, reading books on depression can help in several different ways. They can help you feel like you're finally understood and seen, and many include helpful techniques to help you work through complex feelings.

    Generally speaking, reading any sort of book may help you feel better. It can help you feel calmer, take your mind off stressors, and even has long-term benefits related to memory and cognition.

    Further, a study published in the Mental Health in Family Medicine found that consistent reading improved mental health and had antidepressant effects.

    That said, books aren't considered a treatment for depression, nor is it a replacement for speaking with a therapist.

  • Can I still read books for depression even though I don't have a diagnosis?

    Yes, you can read books about depression whether you’ve been diagnosed or not. Doing so may help you better understand your feelings and work through them. It may even inspire you to visit a mental health practitioner, or the reading may be useful for conversations you have with an existing therapist.

    Also, reading books about depression—even if you’ve personally never felt depressed—can help you empathize with others who do experience depression. This can strengthen your relationships with those you care about and help you understand what depression is from a more nuanced point of view.

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 K. Tatum, MS, LMHC 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 lots of options to choose from is vitally important to creating a lifestyle that combats depression symptoms.

4 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 Psychiatric Association. What is depression?

  2. American Psychological Association. What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

  3. Rizzolo D, Zipp G, Stiskal D, Simpkins S. Stress Management Strategies For Students: The Immediate Effects Of Yoga, Humor, And Reading On StressJournal of College Teaching & Learning (TLC). 2011;6(8). doi:10.19030/tlc.v6i8.1117

  4.  Robertson, Roma, et al. The Introduction of a Healthy Reading Scheme for People with Mental Health Problems: Usage and Experiences of Health Professionals and Library Staff. Ment Health Fam Med. 2008;5(4):219-228.