5 Self-Help Books for Depression, Anxiety & Life
Whether you are reading self-help books for depression, anxiety or just looking to find more spark in your life I am confident these books will help you. When I’m feeling depressed or lost I find it a huge help to listen to or read the words of someone else who has pulled themselves up to a better place before as well.
Why does reading self-help books for depression help?
- It gets you out of your head.
- Their words provide valuable advice that I need to help pull myself back out of my own depressive state.
Depression & Mindset
And while yes depression is a chemical state in our bodies and you may need help with that at the end of the day it is all in your head! Depression is a state of mind. You may have not consciously chosen to get there but you can choose to pull yourself out. I understand all too well what it is like to be seriously depressed (why do you think my posting on this site is all too sporadic?). However, I also understand what it takes to pull myself out of depression and a lot of the tools I have learned in order to do that have been from self-help books.
Yes I still struggle, and no I haven’t got life all figured out yet and I know what I am about to say sounds like a massive cliche but life’s a journey, enjoy the ride. One thing to be grateful for if you have experienced depression is that you know what the lowest of the lows are like so you can better appreciate the highs.
Every time you pick yourself back up you build resilience. It’s like a muscle. The more you work it and the bigger you make your mental health toolbox, the better equipped you will be for future bumps in the road, and there will always be challenges ahead. How you interpret those challenges is the key to experiencing them as a kick or a valuable lesson to learn.
Rapid Mindset Shifts
When you develop the skill to quickly change your mindset from utter hopelessness to bliss you free yourself from depression and build resilience. And yes, it is possible to break free from depression in less than a day. In fact, it is almost instant if you decide to change. I have done it several times before and each time it gets faster. But why do I slip back? Typically because I haven’t kept up with my positive mindset and lifestyle habits. This is especially crucial after trauma as healthy lifestyle habits are what will heal you.
Understanding The Depression Vortex
OK, so you won’t find The Depression Vortex anywhere else on the web (to my knowledge) as I made this theory on depression up myself. I came up with it based on The Extinction Vortex theory from conservation biology. In a nutshell, things happen to you in life that knock your resilience levels. A few things happen, you’re able to pick yourself back up no sweat. But the more and more things that knock you back in a row make it harder for you to bounce back and that’s when depression can sink in.
You fall deeper and deeper into the vortex with each knock. That’s when even the tiniest thing can happen and you end up in tears and despair not knowing how you can ever go on. Dramatic I know but this is the reality of depression. Things as tiny as even a pen breaking can send someone far down the depression vortex into a nervous breakdown. Something people not in the vortex would see as well frankly mad, and it is, but when you’re resilience levels are so low it feels like an impossible hurdle to overcome and that the world is out to get you.
Freeing Yourself From The Depression Vortex
To break free of the depression vortex you must start to build back your resilience. You do this through healthy habits. Healthy habits heal both your mind and body. It is important to heal both at the same time as they are endlessly interlinked. How you treat your body affects your hormones and chemical balances which in turn affect your mood and mindset, and vice versa. If you want to read more about my theory on the depression vortex I talk about it in my other article 10 Things To Do When You Are Feeling Down.
Healthy Lifestyle Habits Vital for Healing From Depression
- Take self-responsibility and Be ready to change. This means accepting that you are in charge of your life and your happiness, no-one else. It’s your mind only you can fix it. Other’s can help you but at the end of the day, it is up to YOU to do the work. No-one else can change what goes through your head but YOU! You can’t control your past trauma but you can control how you let it influence you today. Always ask for help when you are struggling, you are not alone but don’t wait for help to find you because it might not be there when you really need it. Love yourself, be there for yourself, take responsibility for your own life!
- Positive affirmations/mantras (mindset shift is the number one goal here)
- Healthy sleep routine
- Yoga (Yoga postures are designed to control the mind. Body + Mind practice = perfect for people with depression)
- A nutritious diet full of vegetables and good fats (think avocados & olive oil)
- Self-care activities that simply make you feel good
- Socializing (minus drugs, alcohol, and people who have a negative influence on either your behavior or emotions)
Phew, ok, this is a more extended introduction than I initially planned to write, but I think it is all vital to understand if you are looking to overcome depression. And now we circle back to self-help books for depression and how they help. These books aren’t listed in any particular order or specifically aimed at depression but they are aimed at increasing your vibrational frequency to find more joy in life. We attract what we focus on so in order to overcome depression we must focus on the opposite.
Before you practical folks roll your eyes and think this is all ‘woo-woo’ weird hippy stuff here are a few facts for you:
1. Happiness is contagious (so is depression).
A study spanning 3 generations, starting in 1948 found that happy people cluster together, likewise for unhappy people. Therefore, the best thing you can do for family and friends (and the world) is to be happy with yourself. Working on being happy yourself will automatically lift up those around you.
2. We don’t see what we don’t expect to be there.
This is commonly known as selective attention. There are countless psychological studies on this. So for example, if you are depressed and don’t expect good things to come into your life, you won’t even notice when they do. If you are always open and expecting good things to happen you are more likely to find them because you are open to receiving them. Makes sense right!? If you are new to this idea watch the video below. There are 3 people in white shirts and three in black shirts playing basketball. In your head, count the number of times the people in the white shirts pass the ball to each other.
So did you see it? If you don’t know what I’m talking about go back and watch it again. This website explains this phenomenon. (I don’t want to say it and ruin it for you if this is new for you, if not I don’t need to explain because you already understand it.
3. Everything is made of energy.
Atoms are just balls of energy after all and we are all made of atoms. Quantum physics is weird, and we all have to accept that there is so much we don’t understand about the universe. One of my lecturers at university wisely relayed this statement to us from one of his teachers and it stuck with me, ready, here it is: “the more we learn the more we realize that we know nothing at all.”
So be open to new ideas. Just because you don’t understand it right now, doesn’t mean it is made up. If you’re depressed the idea of happiness probably seems like an impossible fantasy. But if you’re open to the idea that it is possible for you, and that you should try new things to get it, you will be much more likely to find your bliss. Read these self-help books for depression, try the tools offered, be open to solutions, and see what happens. You’re already feeling lost or depressed and ready to find a solution that’s why you’re here reading this, so what have you got to lose?
1. Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein
At the time of writing, Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein the most recent self-help book I’ve listened to. Yes, I said listened to. My slow reading capabilities make me a big fan of audiobooks. As the title of her first book, Spirit Junkie, suggests Gabrielle is a big fan of finding your spirituality and using it to help guide you to find your way in this world. As she explains, spirituality doesn’t mean you have to become religious, it is more about connecting to higher frequency vibrations.
If this is your first self-help book, you will either love it or find it a bit overwhelming. You may want to start with something a little more down to earth on this list like Happier Now by Nataly Kogan, number four on this list. I didn’t resonate with Gabby when I first came across her, but the more I explored her work, the more I fell in love.
A Spiritual Self-Help Book for Depression & Overall Enlightenment
In Super Attractor Gabby frequently references the work of Abraham Hicks. If you haven’t heard of Abraham Hicks the story gets a bit “woo-woo” weird but the teachings are very wise so who knows ????. We live in a weird place. Anyway, ‘The teachings of Abraham” are written by Esther and Jerry Hicks on the law of attraction. Bear with me, this is where it gets a bit weird. Esther and Jerry say that Abraham is “a group consciousness from the non-physical dimension” who Esther is able to channel. She also talks about Christian Angels as guides which doesn’t quite click with me, However, spiritual guides are common throughout different cultures and this I can be open to.
Like I did with her earlier book, The Universe Has Your Back, I feel you need to read (or listen to) it more than once to let her messages sink in fully. Gabby provides tools mostly revolving around morning mantras/affirmations and meditations for a mindset change. They are simple yet effective. Plus, I love that she has additional resources (including some freebies) that go alongside this book like the Spirit Junkie App with daily affirmations, Super Attractor Journal, and a 52-card deck.
I often go back to her words when I am struggling. Listening to her positive attitude towards life, and practical advice helps me to pull myself out of a low place and back into a higher frequency. If you’re new to the wonderful world of audiobooks click this link to go directly to Audible for a free copy of Super Attractor.
2. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
Are you really surprised The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein is second on the list after reading about my love for Super Attractor. The Universe Has Your Back is the prequel to Super Attractor, but you definitely don’t need to read them in order. Start with whichever one you feel the most drawn to. If you want to try out audiobooks grab your free copy of The Universe Has Your Back here.
The concepts in this book are very similar but a bit more generalized than in Super Attractor. I think one of the reasons I connect with Gabby is that while she discusses connecting with God, she also reminds you that you can call it whatever you like. God in this sense is the universal forces that lift you up and bring you closer to your higher self.
For me, I don’t resonate with the term God because of the religious connotations but I understand the message because I have connected with this side of myself. I have always thought of it as more of an energetic connection with the universe or mother nature. You most likely have experienced this too. Maybe you know it, maybe you don’t.
Finding Spirit Connection
It is that little voice that seems to come out of nowhere and guides you in the right direction. It is that wave feeling of peace during meditation and the assured knowledge that everything will turn out all right in the end. Sometimes it feels like it’s missing, but it is always there. You can always find it. Simply listen and be open to the answer. You have to connect. The advice, tools, and stories Gabby shares will help you find that connection, even if you are at your lowest.
Side note: I didn’t realize until writing this article that there is also an affirmations card deck to go alongside the book, which is pretty cool if you’re into these types of products. This woman is an entrepreneurial powerhouse. She is earning big money for sharing a beautiful message and helping other’s life themselves up to live a happier life. That is something I 100% respect on so many levels.
3. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
If you are brand new to self-help books start with You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. This was the first proper self-help book I read when I first started my Happiness Quest many years ago. It is a good introduction to common ideas strewn through the self-help world.
I really like how Jen lays out ideas like how to connect with your inner self, unwrap your ego, and finding forgiveness and purpose in simple, easy to digest ways. She explains how to take action and use tools such as gratitude and manifestation to bring meaningful change into your life. Get your free copy of You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero by signing up for Audible.
I haven’t read them yet but if you are delving deeper into the self-help books world and want more from Jen she has since written several other books. You are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth, You are a Badass Everyday: How to Keep Your Motivation Strong, Your Vibe High, and Your Quest for Transformation Unstoppable, and Badass Habits: Cultivate Awareness, Boundaries, and Daily Upgrades You Need to Make Them Stick are definitely high on my reading list. I need all of that in my life ????.
4. Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Even the Difficult Ones) by Nataly Kogan
The great thing about Happier Now by Nataly Kogan is that she recognizes that life is full of ups and downs. In this practical self-help book, Nataly explains how being happy doesn’t always mean being constantly positive. Nataly goes on to outline the tools she used to shift her mindset to find more compassion and joy in daily life, rather than constantly hunting for what she calls “the elusive big happy.“
The five core skills Nataly teaches are acceptance, gratitude, kindness, the Big Why (aka finding greater meaning in life), and self-care. Similarly to my depression vortex theory, Nataly discusses how building resilience is key to lasting happiness. This book is great for those of you who are more analytical rather than spiritual-thinkers and want to learn about science-backed tools that will bring more joy into your daily life.
Nataly has an abundance of becoming happier resources on her website which are well worth a look. Also, I know I’m starting to sound pretty repetitive but, I need to share the links to these free audiobooks somehow. I know you want free books, I do ????. Here’s the link to get your free copy of Happier Now by Nataly Kogan.
5. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson
Not one of your typical self-help books for depression but full of valuable insights into human behavior and life nonetheless. I wouldn’t recommend starting with the 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson if you are really feeling low because it is full of harsh truths but since you are on a quest to find happiness and a better life definitely add this to your reading list.
This book is especially great for those that are more analytical and interested in psychology and human behavior. Jordan is well-versed in religion and has a fascinating look into the practical messages behind religious texts that you probably haven’t explored unless you have studied them yourself.
I found this book a bit of a marathon to get through so make sure you take it in small bites. Listen to or read a chapter then put it down and ponder for a while before moving on. As always, if you’re new to Audible you can get 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos free.
Summary of Self-Help Books for Depression
- Make change happen! You have the ability to change your mindset from depression to abundance.
- To heal from depression focus on doing healthy activities for both your mind and body. Each activity will support the other. You need both to be well.
- Reading self-help books for depression will expose you to new ideas and the tools you need to change your mindset.
I’m always on the lookout for new self-help books to try to turn my chaos into concord. What self-help books for depression or anxiety or life, in general, do you recommend? Also if you have read any of the books I’ve listed here, what did you think?
*This post about self-help books for depression contains affiliate links, however I have personally read (*cough* listened to) all these books. They have helped me greatly in my happiness quest. Should you choose to purchase anything via these links you will support me by giving me a small commision at no extra cost to yourself. Thank you ????. Please read the Disclosure Policy for more information.