books on mental health

Must-read books on mental health for those battling depression and anxiety

This comprehensive list of must-read books on depression and anxiety can help you manage your mood and take better care of your mental health, especially during these trying times.
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Mental health issues can be debilitating, especially during uncertain times such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.”

Anyone who suffers from mental health conditions needs all the help they can get, whether from friends, family, professionals, or books. But it is possible that some people who suffer from anxiety or depression might find it hard to pick up a book in such times. But for those who can, and the loved ones of those battling such issues, there are books on mental health that can help them steer through the toughest of times and provide valuable knowledge on improving their wellbeing.

Their popularity drives home the point that you are not alone in your journey, as does the fact that many of these books were written by people who have walked the same path as yours. So, here’s our list of must-read bestsellers that can help you take better care of your mental health.

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, by David D Burns, M.D.

In Feeling Good, eminent American psychiatrist David Burns has condensed his years of research on the causes and treatments of depression. This self-help book is an essential read to gain deeper insights into understanding and mastering our negative moods. The author shows us how feelings of guilt, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem can be cured without medication. The book shatters the myth that mood swings and self-defeating behaviour are natural, and instead, demonstrates how they can be prevented through simple and scientifically proven principles and techniques.

Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking, by S J Scott and Barrie Davenport

This book is written for people who have problems focusing and are often overwhelmed by their thoughts. Written by Wall Street Journal bestselling authors S J Scott and Barrie Davenport, Declutter Your Mind will teach you specific practices to help clean up your mental clutter so that you can enjoy inner peace, happiness and a meaningful life. The book teaches science-backed habits and mindsets to gain clarity on your goals and prioritise what matters to you and let go of what no longer serves your purpose.

Relax: A User’s Guide to Life in the Age of Anxiety, by Timothy Caulfield

Your decisions have the power to change your life for better or worse. In Relax, Canadian author Timothy Caulfield reveals the big and small decisions we make every day are mostly based on false beliefs and misinformation. The author explains how many of the things we believe to be healthy, useful and safe simply aren’t. Based on reliable scientific findings, Caulfield suggests ways to stop making poor decisions and thus afford to relax a lot more. This is among the best books on mental health for those struggling to cope with the demands of modern living.

Reasons to Stay Alive, by Matt Haig

English novelist and journalist Matt Haig wrote this insightful book based on his own experience with depression and anxiety disorder. Haig was 24 when he found himself standing at a cliff edge about to jump off. This book is his account of why he didn’t, and how he recovered and learned to live again. In Reasons to Stay Alive, the author articulates both the bleakness of depression and the effective ways of dealing with it, little by little, without sounding preachy. This book will provide comfort to anyone who has felt despair and help them come back from the brink of severe depression.

Depression-Free, Naturally: 7 Weeks to Eliminating Anxiety, Despair, Fatigue, and Anger from Your Life, by Joan Mathews Larson, PH. D.

In this book, American nutritionist Joan Mathews Larson talks about the role of food in combating depression and healing your emotions. Larson argues that most people who are depressed, fatigued, tired, or those battling addiction, suffer from a deficiency of vitamins or amino acids. She urges readers to seek medical help to identify possible vitamin deficiencies, food allergies and blood sugar abnormalities. Those who suffer from mental health lapses, mood swings and anxiety will find valuable tips on choosing the right foods and optimising their natural hormones to improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

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

What we do with our minds can rewire the activity and even the lifelong modelling of our brains. In The Upward Spiral, American neuroscientist Alex Korb shows us how the brain can empower people to combat depression and improve their lives. He offers powerful and practical ways to use neuroscience to enhance relationships, reduce anxiety and lessen the symptoms of depression. This book will show you how small steps in the right direction can help you heal and find lasting happiness.

The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness by Mark G Williams, John D Teasdale, Zindel V Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Drawing from the wisdom of four internationally renowned international mental health experts, this book teaches you how to break free from damaging mental habits such as not getting enough sleep, which can lead to despair and anxiety. An easy-to-follow self-help program in the book offers several mindfulness practices you can incorporate in your daily life to free yourself from depression and unhappiness. For anyone looking to regain a sense of satisfaction and balance in their lives, this book is highly recommended.

The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon

In The Noonday Demon, Andrew Solomon, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University, USA weaves his own experience and that of others in an exhaustive examination of depression and mental illness. Solomon takes the help of diverse perspectives such as religion, philosophy, art, culture, politics and science to address mental illness as a public health issue. He explains various solutions to treat depression including exercise, support groups, anti-depressants, light therapy and acupuncture by drawing from anecdotes of diverse interviewees. Reading this book can help you gain an in-depth understanding of mental illness.

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