Bibliotherapy for depression: 7 life-changing books that helped me achieve remission from high-functioning depression

7 minutes

Bibliotherapy is self-care

Depression can be a challenging battle, but there is a powerful tool that will aid in the healing process: bibliotherapy. Whether you’re seeking solace, understanding, or inspiration, bibliotherapy can be your guiding light on the path to healing and resilience.

As someone who has experienced high-functioning depression and successfully achieved remission, here are 7 life-changing books that played a pivotal role in my recovery, offering insights, guidance, and hope along the way.

7 books to help with depression… in no particular order

A Guide to the Good Life

Author: William B. Irvine 
Genre: Philosophy
Synopsis: Professor of Philosophy, Irvine explains stoicism in an easy and digestible way for seasoned experts and novices to enjoy. He also gives readers examples of how they can integrate stoic principles into their modern lives. 
What it taught me: This book taught me to prioritize my tranquility over other people and their opinions. It also helped me to let go of small things by focusing on what I can and cannot control. This resulted in a big weight being lifted. I started living more for myself and I became much happier.
What you’ll learn: This book is great for those who enjoy philosophy, and for those who want to learn how to reduce the mental noise and live a more tranquil life. It will be really helpful to people who try to control others or focus too much on other people and not themselves.

Buy it here.

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose 

A picture of the cover of "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle

Author: Eckhart Tolle  
Genre: Spiritual Self-help
Synopsis: Beautifully written and easy to understand, spiritual teacher Tolle shares actionable insights into how readers can overcome their ego, learn how to focus their thoughts and live a life truer to their purpose.
What it taught me: This book taught me to see the beauty in life, that things aren’t always so bad, that I can choose to not focus on things that are upsetting and that my ego was getting in my way. I learned a deeper level of appreciation for myself and others and I learned acceptance and how to raise to a higher level of consciousness.
What you’ll learn: This book is great for those who feel heavy due to the negativity of the world, want to rise to a higher level of consciousness and for those who are having trouble with identity and acceptance.

Buy it here.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Picture of the cover of "Influence" by Robert B. Cialdini

Author: Robert B. Cialdini 
Genre: Psychology
Synopsis: Professor of Psychology, Cialdini wanted to know why he kept falling for scams and sales tactics, so he used his resources and experience in psychology to find out. He takes a lighthearted approach to psychology and explains why we do the things we do, like why we are more interested in buying a product when we know others have bought it (social proofing).
What it taught me: This book showed me that the thoughts I have are similar to other thought processes other people have and that I am not alone. With this confidence I built the strength to see my depression from an objective view and a puzzle to solve rather than something that would hold me back forever.
What you’ll learn: This book is great for those who enjoy psychology and want to know how their brains work. An added benefit is realizing the things you do can be explained with psychological concepts. Oh yeah, and you will likely stop falling for sales tactics.

Buy it here.

How Can I Help?: Stories and Reflections on Service

Picture of the cover of "How Can I Help?" by Ram Dass and Paul Gorman

Author: Ram Dass ad Paul Gorman
Genre: Psychology, Transformational, Self-help
Synopsis: Spiritual leaders Dass and Gorman teach the wisdom of helping and how, in serving others, we serve to ourselves. Even though this book is about being in service to others, it focuses on finding oneself and includes the best explanation of identity I’ve read.
What it taught me: This book showed me who I was underneath all the depression and anxiety. It helped me determine my true values and find myself through all the negative suggestions in the world. Truly life changing, I will never look at others and myself the same way again. It helped me find a deep love and appreciation for my being, a self-love money cannot buy.
What you’ll learn: This book is great for those who feel hopeless, want to build self-esteem, get a better grasp on their identity, and focus on not losing themselves. It is also helpful for those who work in areas that support others.

Buy it here.

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

Author: Melody Beattie
Genre: Self-help
Synopsis: Mental wellness advocate, Beattie explains a concept, codependency, she noticed while working with alcoholics and the people who supported them. She explains how people who have lost their identity in trying to help others can reclaim their life.
What it taught me: This book showed me I was trained to be codependent on others and that training was not serving me. Reading this book felt like freedom and helped me learn how to say “no” without guilt. It helped me realize I was not in control of other people’s emotions and that the only person I could control was myself. It helped me build a backbone and stand up for myself. This all lead to me feeling more confident. It helped me build stronger and healthier connections. This all lead me to being happier and less depressed.
What you’ll learn: With this book you will learn how to identify when you are living for yourself or when you are abandoning yourself for others. Codependency can lead to depression, so you might be codependent and not know it.

Buy it here.

Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think

Author: Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky 
Genre: Psychology
Synopsis: Cognitive behavioral therapists Greenberger and Padesky outline the foundations of cognitive behavioral therapy, including workbook sections, to help the reader identify their dysfunctional thoughts.
What it taught me: This book helped me understand how my dysfunctional thoughts were leading to depression. It also helped speed up the therapeutic process as I knew the terminology and how to better describe my thoughts to my therapist so she could better help me.
What you’ll learn: You’ll learn how dysfunctional thought patterns lead to depression, anxiety and stress, and how to correct the dysfunctional thoughts.

Buy it here.

When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life

Picture of the cover of the book "When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life"

Author: David D. Burns M.D.
Genre: Psychology
Synopsis: Psychologist Burns discusses an alternative to medication for anxiety relief and gives well researched explanations and insights into his experience with patients.
What it taught me: This book showed me that depression and anxiety can be eased and managed with changes to thoughts and thought habits. It helped me identify the thought habits that were keeping me stuck.
What you’ll learn: Here you will learn about anxiety, where it comes from, how it is falsely portrayed by pharmaceutical companies and how to manage anxiety with cognitive behavioral techniques instead of medication.

Buy it here.

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