Anxiety disorders can have serious emotional and physical effects that greatly inhibit a person’s quality of life. I myself have lived with anxiety for decades. However, in my case, I found that reading these best books about anxiety has helped me overcome (or at least, manage) the stress and panic attacks that often come with it.
Here, I’ll list my favorite books on anxiety that have aided me with developing much healthier wellness habits. In addition, they’ve also expanded my grasp on what anxiety really is – and that I’m not alone.
However, keep in mind these books should only be taken as additional support. I do not suggest you use them as full substitutes for therapy. If you’re struggling to cope with persistent anxiety (as I once did), please seek professional help.
The Best Books About Anxiety I’ve Read
1. My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind
In My Age of Anxiety, prolific writer Scott Stossel shares his own battles with anxiety. However, this isn’t just a personal biography. The book also takes a look at the long history of how scientists, philosophers, and researchers have treated – and at times misunderstood – the condition over decades. I found this to be really fascinating, as it sketches out a wider context to my own feelings.
However, the part I find most relatable is Scott’s vivid descriptions of how anxiety can assert a stranglehold on our lives. He writes with empathy (and quite a bit of humor), which really opened my heart to the stuff he talks about.
Overall, I think you’ll really love My Age of Anxiety for Scott’s frank and honest style. He never sounds condescending, and really helps to clear up misconceptions about anxiety disorders. A great read!
2. On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety
Like Stossel, author Andrea Petersen knows first-hand what anxiety feels like, having experienced it since childhood. Above all, I totally related with all the symptoms she described. This includes her past ‘fears over feeling anxious’ that, quite ironically, causes more anxiety. It’s a panic-inducing trap indeed.
In addition, I found Andrea’s explanations of various modern treatments to be really insightful. For example, she gives a great overview comparison of a number of psychoactive drugs and non-drug treatments, such as exposure therapy. She also explores how our overall well-being is shaped by both genetic and environmental factors.
Andrea shares all of the above in a highly intimate, autobiographical tone – which I really appreciated. I like my books ‘sciency’ – but told with a human touch.
In short, On Edge is one of the best books about anxiety I’ve read thus far. It really helped me make sense of the chaos.
3. Be Calm: Proven Techniques to Stop Anxiety Now
Knowing about anxiety is one thing. But what about managing it?
For this, I found Be Calm to be one of the best books about anxiety that has truly aided me in lessening my symptoms, allowing me to enjoy life much more.
This book is my go-to resource for stress reduction. Author Jill Weber dives deep into some potential triggers of anxiety – and how we can teach ourselves over time to stay calm with greater control.
Best of all, I love how the techniques described are all backed by science and / or a good history of proven success. This is reassuring.
Overall, like me, you’ll probably discover a lot of new and life-changing advice in Be Calm.
4. Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks
With anxiety, we often think about ‘managing’ our conditions – or medicating it away. However, I loved Dare for, well… daring us to try and stop anxiety from happening in the first place. The key here lies with training ourselves to embark on some important cognitive shifts.
Like most books about anxiety, the info here is heavily backed by science. Barry McDonagh’s method (‘DARE’) is basically an abbreviation of Diffuse, Allow, Run Towards, and Engage. As he shows us, these four steps help us better deal with stress and panic whenever anxiety-inducing situations start to creep into our minds.
Overall, I love the simple presentation of DARE. However, keep in mind that simple doesn’t necessarily equate to easy. In fact, I initially struggled with carrying out McDonagh’s advice on a regular basis. However, over time, things got much better – and I’ve definitely picked up a lot from his book.
Is Dare for everyone? Not necessarily. However, if you feel you’re at a stage where you’re willing to try something new, this book might just be what you’re looking for.
5. Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind: How to Stop the Cycle of Anxiety, Fear, and Worry
Written by psychotherapist Jennifer Shannon, this book pulls together bits of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), presenting everything as one cohesive whole.
I really enjoy Jennifer’s encouraging nature. She shares her advice in a gentle yet optimistic tone. Above all, she persuades us to believe that life can get much better once we learn to confront our anxieties in healthy ways. In addition, there are some lovely illustrations inside, which make the heavy topics feel more digestible.
Overall, I think Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind is best suited for those who suffer from situational anxiety that arise from specific triggers. However, it might not be an ideal guide for those with persistent and non-isolated anxiety.
In my case, this is among the best books about anxiety that has taught me to stay mindful of my stress levels. It also showed me how to beneficially acknowledge – rather than avoid – factors that often cause me stress and panic. The phrase that comes to mind is “Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t” – which sums up this book perfectly.
6. The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You into Expecting the Worst and What You Can Do About It
For me, a big part of my anxiety comes from excessive worrying. I’m a worrier, always have been.
However, as Dr. David Carbonell explains, worry is really our mind’s way of tricking us into thinking we’re under threat – when, more often than not, we aren’t.
In The Worry Trick, he shares great tips on how to break our worry cycles that, in effect, reduces anxiety. Similar to Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind, much of what he says is based off proven CBT and ACT research. In addition, David presents everything in a pragmatic and highly accessible way – great for readers like me!
Overall, I’d say this is among the best books about anxiety that has helped me really take a step back. It encourages me to observe my state of mind from ‘afar’ (rather than lose myself in it). In short, it’s been my go-to grounding force for a few years now.
7. Stopping the Noise in Your Head : the New Way to Overcome Anxiety and Worry
A lot of the books on this list challenge us to face our anxieties, head on. However, I really liked Dr. Reid Wilson’s attempts to contextualize this method with real-world stories of people (both ordinary and famous) who have learnt to shift their perspectives – and thus, alter how they deal with anxiety.
Above all, the tools in this book are very powerful – if you’re diligent in practicing them daily. Together with The Worry Trick, they’ve played a huge part in breaking me out of my obsessive worrying – on most occasions anyway. I’ve much less stressed now, my hurricanes have subsided – and a lot of it is thanks to Stopping the Noise in Your Head.
Also check out our thematic lists of great non-fiction books to read.
8. Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World
Here’s something a bit different.
For people who believe in God, I highly suggest you look into Max Lucado’s work. Specifically, he explores how the power of prayer can – when coupled with proper guidance in mindfulness – assist us in reaching calmer mental states, thus keeping anxiety away.
To be clear, this is not a heavy theological read. Instead, Max focuses on pragmatic, day-to-day activities that teach you how to better handle stress and panic. This includes the practice of letting go of needless worry and stress.
I’ll be honest. I’m not the most religious person around. I usually prefer reading books about anxiety that are rooted in hard science and proven therapy methods.
However, Anxious for Nothing is, to me, a diversifying read that has enriched my grasp of what anxiety is. Above all, the book’s spiritual emphasis has taught me how to ‘release’ myself from worries that fall beyond my immediate control.
Other useful books on anxiety worth reading
9. 10% Happier
Written by news anchor Dan Harris, 10% Happier isn’t specifically about anxiety per se. However, after living through his on-air panic attack, Dan candidly shares his unique approach to re-imagining life with far less stress – and much more happiness.
Above all, I recommend this book to anyone searching for pragmatic spiritual guidance amid our very un-zen world of work and routines. For me, the route of finding inner peace has played a big part in helping me deal with my own anxiety.
10. Hack Your Anxiety
Hack Your Anxiety was first introduced to me by a friend. I think Dr. Alicia Clark does a fantastic job with showing you how to turn the negatives of anxiety into potential positives. She weaves together neuroscience and actual case studies, giving us the tools to ‘hack’ our worries, stress, and panic.
Overall, I admire how Alicia takes a different approach from most other best books about anxiety. In short, she’s aided me in seeing my anxiety not as a insurmountable monster – but as an emotional resource to build upon. I know this sounds slightly controversial. However, a lot of what she covers makes sense, grounded in scientific evidence.
11. Rewire Your Anxious Brain
Rewire Your Anxious Brain does what many other books on anxiety do – in essence, teaching us how to overcome it. However, this read goes an extra step by diving deep into the chemicals and biological processes that trigger such negative experiences in the first place.
You’ll learn all about the amygdala and cortex, among other things, and how these brainy parts are responsible for our feelings of fear, worry, and so on.
In short, if you’re as interested in the physiological ‘why’ of anxiety as you are on how to deal with it, this is an awesome read.
12. Badass Ways to End Anxiety & Stop Panic Attacks!
I love how Badass Ways to End Anxiety wastes no time getting to the meaty point: “You have anxiety, this is what it is, and this is how you can deal with it better.” There’s no fluff.
Geert Verschaeve himself overcame his generalized anxiety and panic attacks – and has also coached thousands of people down his healthier path. Again, everything is backed by science, with a focus on mindful techniques and daily routines.
13. The Anxiety Workbook: A 7-Week Plan to Overcome Anxiety, Stop Worrying, and End Panic
I think The Anxiety Workbook is one of the best books about anxiety for those who like having a systematic ‘game plan’ to work through. Everything is well-structured, complete with checklists and step-by-step instructions that put you in a better frame of mind to reclaim your life.
Will this whole process take only 7 weeks? Well, it depends. For me, it took a little longer. However, the clear-cut approach of this guidebook will most likely send you in a much healthier direction.
14. Unf**k Your Brain
There seems to be a trend lately with rudely titled books, don’t you think? It’s funny! Nonetheless, I’m happy to say that Unf*** Your Brain isn’t just a marketing gimmick. Inside, you’ll learn how to tame that unruly mind of yours, seizing power back whenever it tries to pull you down the anxiety rabbit hole.
Overall, I think this is an amusing yet thoroughly researched book that knows how to engage your interest. However, be warned that there are a lot of F bombs inside (for humor’s sake) – so, you’ll need to approach this with an open mind.
15. Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief
We’ve all heard about the ‘Four Stages of Grief’ – and realize that Anxiety isn’t listed as one of them. However, I believe people with anxiety know all too well that it tends to come with the territory.
I especially recommend this book for anyone trying to cope with the loss of a loved one – and who may feel their level of anxiety start to peak.
I myself read this shortly after I lost my dad. It truly helped me deal with the stress and panic attacks that threatened to overwhelm me at times. I hope it’ll give you some solace as well.