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11 Best Books on Depression to Help You Fight Back (Self-Help)

I’ll be frank. Fighting depression isn’t as easy as picking up one of these best books on depression, reading it, problem solved. The reality is each person faces depression in his or her own way. There’s no one-size-fits-all cure. In light of this, if you’ve not done so already, please don’t be afraid to seek professional help. In addition, reach out to loved ones, stay open. There’s no shame at all in what you’re going through. You’re human, and you don’t have to do this alone.

This being said, I do suggest you pick up any of these self-help books about depression. They’ll at the very least help you through some dark days ahead. It certainly doesn’t hurt to refill your mind and spirit with positive advice from experts who’ve devoted their lives to helping others in similar need.

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My List of Best Books on Depression

1. You’re Not Alone: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need to Overcome Anxiety and Depression

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Zach Westerbeck is a widely respected mental health speaker, especially when it comes to understanding the struggles of college students. In You’re Not Alone, he details many coping mechanisms to help you push through anxiety and depression.

I enjoyed Zac’s no-holds-barred approach. He bares his soul in these pages, recounting many of his own first-hand experiences. This gives empathetic context to his thoughts on depression, stress, and other painful struggles. In short, the book keeps things real and relatable.

Zach covers many useful topics. This includes his guidance on how to hold back torrents of negative thoughts, identifying hidden triggers, methods to achieve better well-being, and much more.

Overall, I’d recommend You’re Not Alone as one of the best books on depression available. It’s a simple-to-grasp read that’ll get you started on reclaiming your life.

You're Not Alone: The Only Book You'll Ever Need to Overcome Anxiety and Depression
291 Reviews
You're Not Alone: The Only Book You'll Ever Need to Overcome Anxiety and Depression
  • Westerbeck, Zachary David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 190 Pages - 10/09/2020 (Publication Date) - Westerbeck Speaking and Coaching Inc. (Publisher)

2. The Upward Spiral

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Depression can feel like an endless downward spiral into sadness, tiredness, and brokenness.

This is where neuroscientist Alex Korb aims to reverse the trend. In The Upward Spiral, he unpacks in clear language the intricate brain patterns that give way to depression and anxiety. In addition, he couples this with solid, scientifically-grounded advice, giving you actionable steps to fight back.

Above all, I think this is one of the best books on depression around. It’ll especially appeal to readers tired of cliched self-help pep-talks and ‘feelgood’ advice that, ultimately, lack substance. By contrast, The Upward Spiral is built on knowledge earned from credible clinical trials, neuroscientific research, and years of professional work.

3. Get Out Of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts

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A New York Times bestseller, Get Out of Your Head posits a much-needed Christian view on depression and anxiety – without any ‘religious’ side-steps.

I initially assumed author Jennie Allen would try to paint an ever-rosy, ‘Christiany’ outlook on mental health issues. Yet, she pleasantly surprised me by detailing her own past experiences with depression and self-destructive thoughts. In short, Jennie keeps her writing raw and confessional, never sugar-coated.

As a Christian book, Jennie ultimately orients the above to the unfailing love of our Heavenly Father. Amid a world that often tries to make us feel small and hopeless, she reminds us there’s always a well of life to be found in Jesus Christ, if we choose to set our hearts on Him.

In short, I think Get Out of Your Head is among the best books on depression. It strikes a beautiful balance between speaking truly to our day-to-day struggles and keeping our spirits Biblically attuned to God.

Also check out my list of 15 Books to Help You Overcome Your Anxiety.

4. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

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The Antidote is a great self-help book on depression for anyone who, well… dislikes self-help books! Heh.

Oliver Burkerman turns the tables on hyper-positivity. According to him, our obsessive cultural pursuit of happiness has led to a nauseating level of Hallmark ‘life is good’ platitudes. Such thinking does have its place in society, of course. However, Oliver also points out how over-the-top, illogical optimism can – quite ironically – make us feel more miserable. This is because we are conditioned to reflect on the many so-called ‘happiness benchmarks’ that we inevitably fail to meet.

In response, Oliver offers a bold counter-cultural approach to finding happiness. To do this, he leans on the teachings of past philosophers as he expands on his methods of avoiding unhealthy thinking, expressing gratitude, and improving our well-being.

To be honest, I don’t think this book – or any best books on depression on this list – works as a final solution to overcoming mental health struggles. Regardless, I find The Antidote to be truly a breath of fresh air that’ll slowly help you shift away from harmful thoughts towards better, happier living.

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
2,699 Reviews
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Burkeman, Oliver (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

5. Undoing Depression

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Depression is a dark tangle of many factors, including genetics, biographical circumstances, and environment. Amid this messy web, psychotherapist Richard O’Connor suggests that the bad habits we adopt can also impede our mental well-being – oftentimes without us noticing.

To this end, Undoing Depression covers how each of us can actively choose a new set of habits and skills that, in effect, help us combat depression. I think this approach is especially useful if you’re trying to reduce any frantic reactions and self-indulgent impulses.

In addition, I love the Mood Journal. Many readers have shared how this section of the book really helped them uncover specific unhealthy emotions, thought patterns, and other negative habits that quietly feed their depression.

In short, I think Undoing Depression is one of the best books on depression available. It is an effective toolkit for identifying – and breaking – harmful habits that implicitly trip and entrap us.

Want to be kinder? Check out our list of 11 books that teach you how to be more gracious towards others.

6. The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs

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For people looking to cut back on or avoid medication, try giving The Depression Cure a go. Dr. Stephen Ilardi presents a holistic approach to fighting depression with a high clinically proven success rate. This method includes focusing on healthy sleep, eating good brain food, and other pragmatic processes in a six-step program.

Again, I strongly advise you seek professional advice before starting any new treatment routines. Still, I think the book’s greatest value lies in how it stresses a therapeutic lifestyle change to battle depression and anxiety. Stephen doesn’t offer a ‘quick fix’ solution. Nonetheless, he shows us how transformative long-term choices allow us to reap many well-being benefits along the way.

In short, The Depression Cure is easily among the best books on depression that’ll appeal to anyone willing to commit to lasting and positive change.

7. When the Darkness Will Not Lift

When the Darkness Will Not Lift
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Bible teacher John Piper is transparent with how Christians are no less prone to struggles with depression. In particular, he explains how prolonged spiritual darkness can keep us from the joy of the Lord.

The book falls on the short side. Yet, it contains many profound and relatable truths, grounded in Biblical references. I especially love how Piper speaks about both the physical and spiritual aspects of depression, all written with gentleness, not condemnation.

In short, When the Darkness Will Not Lift is one of the best books about depression built on a Christian worldview. The book is equal parts pragmatic and God-centered, making it a good read to hold onto during our deepest valley walks.

When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God--and Joy
651 Reviews
When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God--and Joy
  • Piper, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 80 Pages - 12/14/2006 (Publication Date) - Crossway (Publisher)

8. Reasons to Stay Alive

Reasons to Stay Alive
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When fighting depression, it can feel impossible to turn our hearts to the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, author Matt Haig’s classic shines as a bright source of hope. Having gone through deep depression himself, he gives a truly moving (and at times, funny!) autobiography filled with heartfelt self-help advice.

In addition, many readers have praised Reasons to Stay Alive for its empathetic tone. Matt uses many anecdotes and relatable metaphors to perfectly capture the essence of depression and anxiety. At the same time, by the book’s second half, he also celebrates many of the small victories, loving moments, and genuine hope that lifted him out of darkness.

Above all, I love how Reasons to Stay Alive doesn’t sidestep depression’s messiness. Instead, it talks about the mental condition for what it is – while still warmly inspiring us to overcome. In short, the book, while light on pragmatic help, feels like a much-needed friend who fills our hearts with good reasons to fight on.

Struggling to forgive someone? Check out our list of 11 Christian books on forgiveness.

9. Lost Connections

Lost Connections
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Award-winning journalist Johann Hari takes us on an eye-opening journey that explores the often hidden socio-habitual causes of depression.

Having suffered from depression for much of his youth, he details his initial encounters with doctors who said his condition was solely due to a chemical imbalance in his brain. He was then given a heavy treatment of meds.

However, from his many years of travel, Hari soon discovered a wealth of evidence that suggest the above isn’t entirely true. From analysing a mind-blowing series of Baltimore experiments to his visit to a remote Amish community, Hari found out that many symptoms of depression are actually triggered by key lifestyle and societal problems. He goes on to list nine environmental causes of depression, as well as several scientific treatments.

In short, I think Lost Connections is one of the best books on depression out there. For many, it will greatly challenge our status quo thinking towards mental health. However, I wouldn’t say it necessarily subverts it, nor should we ignore the many real benefits of proper medical treatment. Regardless, the book offers you an insightful grasp of how cultural context can significantly affect depression and anxiety.

10. The Hilarious World of Depression

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Depression is most certainly nothing to laugh at.

However, sharing his own lifelong fight with depression, radio personality John Moe cleverly uses the power of humour to deliver profound truths on mental well-being. He evokes laughter as a means to shine a light on – not mitigate – our fight against our darkest thoughts. It’s an unusual approach – but it works!

John dives deep into many of depression’s universal themes. This includes the loss of personal identity, self-medicating, the painful impact on loved ones, and much more. I especially loved how John relates many of these issues to his own struggles, as well as how his brother’s untimely death deeply affected him.

In short, The Hilarious World of Depression is an honest, inspiring, and – dare I say it – funny dialogue on depression that’ll get you looking at life in new ways.

The Hilarious World of Depression
704 Reviews
The Hilarious World of Depression
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Moe, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

11. The Noonday Demon

The Noonday Demon
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Hailed by many as a transformative read, Andrew Solomon’s classic grapples with the many complexities of depression. The Noonday Demon examines the diverse personal, cultural, and scientific causes of the illness. In addition, Andrew discloses his own struggles, as well as his conversations with fellow sufferers, experts, and more to round off his truly holistic look at mental wellness.

Moreover, Andrew covers many aspects of depression seldom talked about. For example, I liked how he discusses the moral and ethical effects of purely biological explanations of the illness, and their harmful impact on self-identity.

Overall, the book is packed with witty candor and a ton of research depth – an appealing balance of readability and information. The Noonday Demon is a widely heralded classic among books on depression that adds great depth to any discussions on the topic.

Keeping reading! Check out more of our non-fiction reading lists!

Know of other best books on depression? Drop me an email and I’ll include them in this list!