Struggling with anxiety or depression? Read these books.
A handful of books helped me fight crippling anxiety and severe depression. Maybe they’ll help others.
Note: I am not a licensed counselor or doctor. The advice I dispense in the following column should be viewed as nothing more than counsel from someone who struggles with depression and anxiety. Please see a qualified doctor and/or therapist if your mental health becomes too much to bear.
Since May, I’ve wrestled with debilitating anxiety and fierce depression. This one-two punch of mental illness has worn me out, and taken a steep toll on my family.
Yet, I choose to see the silver lining of it all: My tussle forced me to reshape how I think about the world and my place in it. This bout, which knocked me down time and time again, forced me to develop the grit about which everyone clamors these days. Now, thanks to hard-won battles, I’m more resilient than ever.
Of course, I spent hours developing this new handle on life, beating back old habits, and rewiring my thinking patterns. All this allowed me to create new triggers that redirect my usually negative thoughts toward something more productive, useful and, well, compassionate.
I’ll write more about my challenges later, but for now, I want to share a few books that helped me shift my thinking and my mindset. I hope these help you, too.
Dweck’s work offers new insight on human capacity and achievement. Too many people find themselves trapped in thinking they can’t accomplish this or that because, well, they just can’t. This, Dweck details in the text, is known as the fixed mindset, which is thinking model that people use to place strict limits on what they believe they can do.
Others, Dweck argues, possess the growth mindset, which allows learners to be patient with themselves as they master new concepts and ideas.
There’s far more to her pitch than I can share here, but suffice it to say that her text can help those who suffer from perfectionism or struggle with self-doubt.
I’ve read a good number of self-help books and have found a number of them to be nothing more than feel-good mush. Not so with Goldstein’s text.
The book, which claims to show how to “take back control of your mind, your mood and your life.” Goldstein offers seven simple steps to battling depression and anxiety. I will note that though the steps he outlines in the book are indeed simple to understand, deliberate and daily application is a whole other ballgame.
I can attest that Goldstein’s methods work wonders. In the depths of my worst anxiety, I found myself unable to break through my own thinking negative thinking patterns. I was my own worst enemy.
If you’re stuck battling acute anxiety, I suggest you read this book first and then build on what Goldstein teaches.
Some voices out there likely believe those suffering from mental illness should just snap out of it or man up. Unfortunately, those caught in depression’s tight clutches can’t escape using willpower alone.
Like Goldstein’s book, Seligman’s text offers time-tested tips on breaking patterns and establishing new triggers that redirect thoughts to healthier plateaus. This text was a little long on the anecdotes, but made up for that in the end by offering solid advice.
Seligman, a revered psychologist, takes his work a step further and offers advice to parents who want to help shift a child’s negative thinking loops. That one chapter alone sets the book apart from the genre.
I prefer self-help books written by actual scientists or counselors, but I made a wide exception for Ravikant. I’m thankful I did because this quick read taught me the value of loving myself.
Do you love yourself? Not in a self-centered fashion, but in a genuine and kind manner? If not, why not? And can you fix that?
Ravikant’s 58-page text offers his thoughts on why we must love ourselves. If we want success, fulfillment and joy, he posits, we must courageously love ourselves, warts and all.
This book includes a simple meditation I use to reset my thinking. It helps a ton.
Other books I’m reading now and will write about later:
Again, please remember I share these books only because they assisted me through a difficult time. I cannot guarantee they will help you.