Did you know that nearly one out of every five adults in the US lives with mental illness?[i] Despite the fact that mental health struggles are common, they’re an often overlooked issue that can lead to a lifetime of stress and interpersonal challenges unless they’re treated with proper intervention.
To beat the stigma and aid in your mental wellness journey, we’ve rounded up top books on anxiety, depression, stress, and anger to complement your mental health education. Not only do books serve as a portal to other worlds, but they also provide a sense of comfort and create an additional support system in times of need.
Dive into this reading list for 2023, and discover new and helpful methods of dealing with mental health issues for yourself or a loved one. These must-read books share different ways of dealing with day-to-day struggles and shed light on ways to improve your quality of life.
Much like other health-related fields of study, the science surrounding mental illness can feel overwhelming and lack a clear set of suggestions to put you on a path to success. The books on our list break down complicated topics, making the science and suggestions easier to understand.
Not only that, but reading is a great way to process thoughts and feelings that your subconscious might not be ready to deal with outwardly. By allowing yourself space to be vulnerable and sympathetic to past experiences without the fear of rejection or shame, you give yourself permission to acknowledge and move past negative experiences on your way to healing.
It’s also possible to learn new skills by reading. Some solutions are simple in practice, but we aren’t always aware of the full impact they have on our lives. Reading firsthand accounts of what did and didn’t work for others may also mitigate the frustration of trying techniques that might not work for you.
In general, education about and therapy for anxiety and depression can be powerful supports for those who need help with mental illness. Read these books at your own pace to ensure you’re getting the most from the material, and pass on your newfound knowledge to others who may be struggling as well.
1. Depression: The Way Out by Neil Nedley, MD
In this outstanding reference book, Dr. Neil Nedley provides an insightful and in-depth overview of the body's physical, mental, and spiritual functions. The information in this book provides understanding and hope to those in the grip of depression.
“This is a great book for those who would like to treat their depression or for doctors and psychologists who would like to treat their depressed patients naturally yet more effectively than by drugging them out on synthetic medications. I highly recommend this book!”
2. Learning to Tell Myself the Truth by William Backus
This 6-week workbook is perfect for anyone who has difficulty controlling inappropriate emotions or actions; those who are depressed, anxious, or habitually irritated and angry; or people who want to break tough habits. It enables readers to identify their own misbeliefs and replace them with the truth.
“What an insightful author! This is great for anyone who struggles with negative self-talk, lives with someone who struggles with negative self-talk, or who wants to understand why people react differently to the same conversation or circumstances.”
3. The Lost Art of Thinking by Neil Nedley, MD
The Lost Art of Thinking is a unique tool that you can use to improve mental performance, emotional intelligence, and life satisfaction in a practical and all-inclusive way. This book provides a comprehensive look at and real answers to three major life pillars: health, understanding others, and happiness.
“Anyone desiring ideal brain function and optimal mental health would do well to incorporate this information into their lives. Students around the world will be astounded at the academic and personal growth they achieve, and people of all ages will unlock the full ability of their minds using the secrets revealed in this book."
Daniel Binus MD, psychiatrist
4. SOS Help for Emotions: Managing Anxiety, Anger, and Depression by Lynn Clark, PhD
SOS Help for Emotions is a self-help book that teaches you the steps for managing anxiety, anger, depression, and other unpleasant feelings. By understanding and applying techniques from this book, you will gain insight into changing your thoughts and feelings while becoming more successful in attaining your goals.
“Angry? Anxious? Depressed? Stressed? ... One of the few books to clearly explain how to deal effectively with your emotions ... It works.”
Bill Pfohl, PsyD, Past President of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
5. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
Minimalism is the art of knowing how much is just enough. Digital Minimalism applies this idea to our personal relationships with technology, delving into how putting healthy parameters in place is the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world.
“Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism is the best book I’ve read in some time about our fraught relationship with technology ... If you’re looking for a blueprint to guide you as you liberate yourself from the shackles of email, social networks, smartphones, and screens, let this book be your guide."
Adam Alter, author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
6. Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D.
Scientifically speaking, the regular practice of grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25 percent, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy. This book examines what it means to think gratefully and feel grateful, and it invites readers to learn how to put this powerful emotion into practice.
"I am convinced Robert Emmons is right: Increasing the national state of gratitude would change the world."
Jim Clifton, Chairman & CEO of The Gallup Organization
Turn books about mental health into action by applying the methodologies utilized in this short list of resources. There is no “one size fits all” solution to mental health struggles, so it’s important to explore a wide selection of information and raise your own awareness of how to deal with depression, stress, anxiety, and more.
If you make your way through this selection and additional helpful reading, check out more mental health books or soothe your mind, spirit, and body with our growing collection of resources.
[i] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Mental illness. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness
Learn about mental health solutions through physical, psychological, and social lifestyle changes.