Best Anxiety Books
For this blog post, I want to recommend the 3 best anxiety books I’ve ever read that actually helped me overcome anxiety. If you want a summary of the best anxiety books without reading what is a quite detailed blog post, or you simply don’t want to read the entire article, I’ve made a table below comparing the six best anxiety books. Good luck with your choice:
|When Panic Attacks by David Burns||A CBT-based approach to understanding an overcoming anxiety.||$||4.8 out of 5|
|Rewire Your Anxious Brain||Incredibly detailed scientific explanation of anxiety||$||4.6 out of 5|
|Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway||A wonderful approach to exposure therapy which can help you take action to overcome anxiety||$||4.6 out of 5|
The simple act of reading books with the intention of treating anxiety and depression is actually referred to as a kind of therapy, known as ‘bibliotherapy’. The premise of bibliotherapy and how it ties in with the ethos of this blog – is that you can hack your brain and change your thought patterns by leveraging some fantastic books that contain invaluable knowledge and exercises to help you overcome mental ailments.
Reading in itself is quite therapeutic, but when you can combine that with knowledge from some of the world’s leading therapists, you have a powerful tool to add to your arsenal in overcoming anxiety or depression. Furthermore, you’ll notice that these six books don’t only provide information–they provide the action you need to take to change your thought patterns permanently through cognitive behavioral exercises and exposure therapy.
While anxiety and depression do have some overlapping symptoms and often occur in tandem, I’d like to recommend the best anxiety books separately as I want to specifically help you target your anxiety instead of recommending books on the broader topic of mental illness. There will be a separate post in the future for the best books for depression.
Numerous studies have verified the efficacy of bibliotherapy in helping to change your thought patterns and overcome anxiety. If you are skeptical, please check out this meta-analysis of hundreds of bibliotherapy studies. The results show that books can be as effective as standard psychotherapy in treating anxiety. I think this is pretty amazing, so if you like to read, make sure you dive into one of the below books. There is no reason not to loverage the power of knowledge from people who have spent decades studying conditions like anxiety and depression. Especially when books are just so damned cheap, and reading in itself is calming. Let’s get started.
This author knows pretty much everything there is to know about conditions such as anxiety and depression. David Burns is a world renowned psychiatrist who revolutionized CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) as a depression treatment during the 1980s.
He is also a trusted source on anxiety too, and I’ve chosen this book because it specifically deals with only anxiety, while his other books are more targeted at depression. When Panic Attacks features a comprehensive guide to pretty much every anxiety disorder you can think of and it is regarded by psychiatrists and patients alike as one of the best anxiety books of all time. He goes through the whole gamut of anxiety disorders from hypochondria to social anxiety disorder. He not only describes the causes of each disorder but he also offers solutions thattie in with the ten fundamental false thinking issues that the principle of cognitive behavioral therapy is based on.
David describes how cognitive distortions lead to anxiety, and suggests multiple exercises to help overcome anxiety. Performing these exercises literally helps to shape the way you think for the better and become less anxious. The only warning I’ll give you is that unless you practice the exercises inside, you’ll never change your thinking. So use what this book teaches you, and put it into practice so that you can experience a permanent change in mindset. Considering David manages to deliver an entire CBT course worth content in this book, I think it’s ridiculously good value for money. A normal CBT course would set you back $500+ from a trained cognitive behavioral therapist. For me, this is the gold standard of bibliotherapy for anxiety and that’s the main reason I recommend it as one of the best anxiety books on the market.
You can purchase the paperback or Kindle version of When Panic Attacks on Amazon here:
If you are the kind of person who prefers listening to books rather than reading them, you can buy an audio version too for a few extra bucks.
I like this book simply because of the really clear scientific approach it takes. You’ll learn in-depth about the causes of your anxiety, which is important if you’ve ever felt that horrible frustration associated with not knowing where the heck your anxiety is coming from. The book is actually written by two psychiatrists, and they complement each other well. Understanding things fro m a scientific perspective is quite nice if you’re curious about how complex the brain really is, and trust me, it’s damn complicated.
Despite the extraordinary complex brains we all have in our heads, these authors manage to explain the origins of anxiety without going too much into technical jargon that the average reader can’t understand, so I think they need to be saluted for that.
This book is pivotal if you want a deeper understanding of the mechanism of anxiety. The deep neurobiology underpinning symptoms of anxiety is not only fascinating to read about, but the book also provides some great evidence-based tips that help to overcome anxiety. Much of these tips I still use today such as eating correctly (they teach you what foods are good/bad for anxiety) and meditation. For its unique depth of information and its no-frills coping strategies, I recommend Rewire your Anxious Brain as one of the best anxiety books you can find anywhere.
Clicking the below image will take you to the Amazon page for Rewire Your Brain. As far as I can tell, there is no audiobook version available yet.
I absolutely love this book for anxiety because it helps with taking action, which is a major struggle for anxious people. The author helps you identify the destructive aspects of excessive fear and how it holds you back in all areas of your life. Furthermore, she provides a structured blueprint to help you take the action that will change your attitudes and beliefs.
Susan Jeffers is a proponent of the idea that permanent shifts in the mindset of an anxious person occur through positive reinforcement associated with “doing the thing” anyway, despite the fear you might feel. I am inclined to agree with her on that point. Although supplements can help you better deal with your initial fear, this book provides a catalyst for you to change your action and shape your own life, instead of letting your anxiety dominate what you do, or more aptly, what you don’t do.
There is an entire field of therapy known as exposure therapy – and its main goal is to get you taking action to overcome your fears. All the understanding of anxiety and the negative thought processes behind it will not make much of a difference unless you change how you think through positive reinforcement associated with taking action that helps you realize the thing you feared in the first place wasn’t actually that scary. For me, Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway is one of the best anxiety books you’ll find because it contains everything you need to know about exposure therapy.
I think this is a wonderful book if you want a great detailed summary of some of the best anxiety management techniques in modern psychoanalysis. Margaret Wehrenberg is the author, and she has a PHD in psychiatry so you know that you’re reading information from someone who has an incredibly in-depth understanding of the condition.
This book explains anxiety really well, in a quite witty way, without delving into psychoanalytic babble or jargon that is unapproachable for anyone without serious knowledge of biochemistry. For me, it was really eye-opening to see some of the tips that she suggests, backed by her own research and that of others in her field. In one case, she explains how abstaining completely from caffeine can reduce anxiety as much as 50%.
I was really skeptical about this claim, possibly because I used to be a huge coffee addict–I love the taste and the smell of it. I decided one week without any coffee or other forms of caffeine couldn#’t hurt me and I was shocked by the results. I now drink strictly decaffeinated coffee, even though I can admit it doesn’t taste as good. I treat myself to coffee at the weekends though and I avoid aspartame like the plague. This is a chemical found in diet coke and also used as a sweetener and I have to agree with the author that both reducing caffeine and avoiding aspartame have helped anxiety substantially.
For practical anxiety tips backed up by information from a really intelligent woman who knows what she’s talking about when it comes to anxiety disorders, you can’t not include this in any list of the six best anxiety books.
This is another inclusion on the realm of best anxiety books that focus on cognitive behavioral therapy as an anxiety solution for permanent change. The book is incredibly detailed and reminiscent of When Panic Attacks, which I’ve also linked to above.
This one does slightly differ from David Burns’ choice though so that’s why I’ve recommended it separately. Where this one stands out is a clearer focus on exercises. Hence the word “workbook” in the title. I think When Panic Attacks is difficult to beat for the sheer depth of information it offers but I love the exercises in this that help to reinforce the cognitive behavioral principles.
It is a really easy to follow book, although I’d suggest going with one chapter at a time instead of reading it straight through if you want to get the most out of it.
For the final addition to this list of best anxiety books, I thought I’d add something a bit different. Many people find that their anxiety really only manifests itself in certain situations. Whether this is talking to someone you find attractive, trying to impress at an interview, or giving a presentation; situational anxiety is a different beast because you might feel perfectly ok at all other times.
The book focuses on pressure, especially internal pressure that you create under certain situations, and by understanding this, it then moves on to teaching you how to reduce the pressure you unrealistically put on yourself. I think this book is really great because performance anxiety can be unbelievable frustrating. This book is full of actionable tips and insight to help you embrace the specific situations that scare you. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who suffers from situational anxiety.
I love all six of these books so I’m finding it very difficult to come up with a recommendation for one of them. If I was forced to choose, When Panic Attacks would probably be the best one in terms of how deep it explores anxiety from a CBT approach. I’m also a huge fan of Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway because of the fact that it gets you taking action instead of letting your anxiety control your fears. These two best anxiety books made the most difference to my life if I could actually quantify that difference. I’ve read everything on this list, though, so check the nifty summary table above if you want to know which book is best for you.
But these six books together represent my pick of the best anxiety books you’ll find anywhere.