Best Mental Health Books: Bipolar, Depression, Schizophrenia, & More

Best Mental Health Books

Best Mental Health Books as Curated by former Columbia Psychiatry Library Chief

Bienvenidos! My name is William Jiang, MLS and I was

best mental health books
Former Columbia Psychiatry/ NYSPI Library Chief, William Jiang, MLS

the Chief of the Patient Library at Columbia Psychiatry / New York State Psychiatric Institute for almost a decade from 2004-2011. According to the Surgeon General, more than one in four people in the United States struggles with mental health issues: anxiety, bipolar (manic-depression), depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and more. The following are the best books about mental health that were most used and popular about bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and errata at the Columbia Psychiatry Patient Library during my tenure.

Best Mental Health Books about Depression

  • The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon “Sometimes, the legacy of depression includes a wisdom beyond one’s years, a depth of passion unexperienced by those who haven’t traveled to hell and back. Off the charts in its enlightening, comprehensive analysis of this pervasive yet misunderstood condition, The Noonday Demon forges a long, brambly path through the subject of depression– exposing all the discordant views and “answers” offered by science, philosophy, law, psychology, literature, art, and history. The result is a sprawling and thoroughly engrossing study, brilliantly synthesized by author Andrew Solomon.”
  • Darkness Visible by William Styron “In the summer of 1985, William Styron became numbed by disaffection, apathy, and despair, unable to speak or walk while caught in the grip of advanced depression. His struggle with the disease culminated in a wave of obsession that nearly drove him to suicide, leading him to seek hospitalization before the dark tide engulfed him.”Best Books About Mental Health
  • Against Depression by Peter D. Kramer “In his landmark bestseller Listening to Prozac, Peter Kramer revolutionized the way we think about antidepressants and the culture in which they are so widely used. Now Kramer offers a frank and unflinching look at the condition those medications treat: depression. Definitively refuting our notions of “heroic melancholy,” he walks readers through groundbreaking new research—studies that confirm depression’s status as a devastating disease and suggest pathways toward resilience. Thought-provoking and enlightening, Against Depression provides a bold revision of our understanding of mood disorder and promises hope to the millions who suffer from it.”
  • Guide to Natural Mental Health: Anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, Schizophrenia, and Digital Addiction: Nutrition, and Complementary Therapies by William Jiang, MLS “In this useful guide, Jiang gives a short practical summary of a wide variety of mental disorders ranging from the classical bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia to the more modern affliction of digital addictions. In each category, he supplies a list of non-pharmacologic treatments, providing for each item a reference with abstract. He also offers resources such as national networks and local support groups.” – Marjorie Ordene, MD
  • Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression  by Brooke Shields  “In this compelling memoir, Brooke Shields talks candidly about her experience with postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, and provides millions of women with an inspiring example of recovery. When Brooke Shields welcomed her newborn daughter, Rowan Francis, into the world, something unexpected followed–a crippling depression. Now, for the first time ever, in Down Came the Rain, Brooke talks about the trials, tribulations, and finally the triumphs that occurred before, during, and after the birth of her daughter.”

Best Mental Health Books about Bipolar

  • An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison “An international authority on manic-depressive illness, and one of the few women who are full professors of medicine at American Universities – a remarkable personal testimony: the revelation of her own struggle since adolescence with manic depression, and how it shaped her life. With vivid prose and wit, she takes us into the fascinating and dangerous territory of this form of madness – a world in which one pole can be the alluring dark land ruled by what Byron called the “melancholy Best Mental Health Booksstar of the imagination,” and the other a desert of depression and, all too frequently, death.”
  • 100 Questions & Answers about Bipolar Disorder by Ava T. Albrecht  “Whether you’re a newly diagnosed patient, a friend, or relative, this book offers help. The only volume to provide both the doctor’s and patient’s views, 100 Questions & Answers About Bipolar (Manic-Depressive) Disorder, gives you authoritative, practical answers to your questions about treatment options, coping strategies, sources of support, and much more. Written by a prominent psychiatrist, with actual patient commentary, this book is an invaluable resource for anyone coping with the medical, psychological, and emotional turmoil of this debilitating condition.”
  • Touched With Fire: Manic-depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison “Drawing from the lives of artists such as Van Gogh, Byron and Virginia Woolf, Jamison examines the links between manic-depression and creativity.”

Best Mental Health Books about Schizophrenia

  • A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar “In this powerful and dramatic biography Sylvia Nasar vividly re-creates the life of a mathematical genius whose career was cut short by schizophrenia and who, after three decades of devastating mental illness, miraculously recovered and was honored with a Nobel Prize. A Beautiful Mind traces the meteoric rise of John Forbes Nash, Jr., a prodigy and legend by the age of thirty, who dazzled the mathematical world by solving a series of deep problems deemed “impossible” by other mathematicians.”
  • A Schizophrenic Will: a Story of Madness, a Story of Hope by William Jiang, MLS “A talented ambitious young student is afflicted by the most dread mental illness in the prime of his life. Best books about Menal HealthThis first person account describes this all to common occurrence but what is unique is how he reacts to this adversity and his courageous and successful journey to recovery. Will Jiang’s impressive and moving story is reminiscent of other similar first person accounts of personal struggle and triumph over mental illness including Elyn Saks’ The Center Cannot Hold and Temple Grandin’s Thinking In Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with Autism. Will’s story will be similarly informative and inspirational to everyone who has the good fortune to read it.” — Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D. President, American Psychiatric Association
  • The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks “Elyn R. Saks is an esteemed professor, lawyer, and psychiatrist and is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Law School, yet she has suffered from schizophrenia for most of her life, and still has ongoing major episodes of the illness. THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD is the eloquent, moving story of Elyn’s life, from the first time that she heard voices speaking to her as a young teenager, to attempted suicides in college, through learning to live on her own as an adult in an often terrifying world. Saks discusses frankly the paranoia, the inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, the voices in her head telling her to kill herself (and to harm others); as well the incredibly difficult obstacles she overcame to become a highly respected professional. This beautifully written memoir is destined to become a classic in its genre.”

Best Mental Health Books about Mental Health Issues

  • Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky “Developed by two master clinicians with extensive experience in cognitive therapy treatment and training, this popular workbook shows readers how to improve their lives using cognitive therapy. The book is designed to be used alone or in conjunction with professional treatment. Step-by-step worksheets teach specific skills that have helped hundreds of thousands people conquer depression, panic attacks, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, eating disorders, substance abuse and relationship problems. Readers learn to use mood questionnaires to identify, rate, and track changes in feelings; change the thoughts that contribute to problems; follow step-by-step strategies to improve moods; and take action to improve daily living and relationships. The book’s large-size format facilitates reading and writing ease.”
  • I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment. 10th Anniversary Edition by Xavier Amador “’This book fills a tremendous void…’ wrote E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., about the first edition of I AM NOT SICK, I Don’t Need Help! Ten years later, it still does. Dr. Amador’s research on poor insight was inspired by his attempts to help his brother Henry, who developed schizophrenia, accept treatment. Like tens of millions of others diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Henry did not believe he was ill. In this latest edition, 6 new chapters have been added, new research on anosognosia (lack of insight) is presented and new advice, relying on lessons learned from thousands of LEAP seminar participants, is given to help readers quickly and effectively use Dr. Amador s method for helping someone accept treatment. I AM NOT SICK, I Don’t Need Help! is not just a reference for mental health practitioners or law enforcement professionals. It is a must-read guide for family members whose loved ones are battling mental illness. Read and learn as have hundreds of thousands of others…to LEAP-Listen, Empathize, Agree, and Partner-and help your patients and loved ones accept the treatment they need.”
  • Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness by Best Books about Mental HealthJoshua Wolf Shenk “Drawing on seven years of his own research and the work of other esteemed Lincoln scholars, Shenk reveals how the sixteenth president harnessed his depression to fuel his astonishing success. Lincoln found the solace and tactics he needed to deal with the nation’s worst crisis in the “coping strategies” he had developed over a lifetime of persevering through depressive episodes and personal tragedies. With empathy and authority gained from his own experience with depression, Shenk crafts a nuanced, revelatory account of Lincoln and his legacy. Based on careful, intrepid research, Lincoln’s Melancholy unveils a wholly new perspective on how our greatest president brought America through its greatest turmoil. Shenk relates Lincoln’s symptoms, including mood swings and at least two major breakdowns, and offers compelling evidence of the evolution of his disease, from “major depression” in his twenties and thirties to “chronic depression” later on. Shenk reveals the treatments Lincoln endured and his efforts to come to terms with his melancholy, including a poem he published on suicide and his unpublished writings on the value of personal—and national—suffering. By consciously shifting his goal away from personal contentment (which he realized he could not attain) and toward universal justice, Lincoln gained the strength and insight that he, and America, required to transcend profound darkness.”
  • The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present by Eric Kandel MD, PhD “A brilliant book by Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel, The Age of Insight takes us to Vienna 1900, where leaders in science, medicine, and art began a revolution that changed forever how we think about the human mind—our conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions—and how mind and brain relate to art.”

Best Mental Health Books: Recently Published

  • Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry by Jeffrey A. Lieberman “The fascinating story of psychiatry’s origins, demise, and redemption, by the former President of the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatry has come a long way since the days of chaining “lunatics” in cold cells and parading them as freakish marvels before a gaping public. But, as JeffreyBest Mental health books Lieberman, MD, reveals in his extraordinary and eye-opening book, the path to legitimacy for “the black sheep of medicine” has been anything but smooth. In Shrinks, Dr. Lieberman traces the field from its birth as a mystic pseudo-science through its adolescence as a cult of “shrinks” to its late blooming maturity — beginning after World War II — as a science-driven profession that saves lives. With fascinating case studies and portraits of the luminaries of the field – from Sigmund Freud to Eric Kandel — Shrinks is a gripping and illuminating read, and an urgent call-to- arms to dispel the stigma of mental illnesses by treating them as
    diseases rather than unfortunate states of mind.”
  • Fountain House: Creating Community in Mental Health Practice by Alan Doyle and Julius Lanoil “Since 1948, people suffering from mental health issues, mental health professionals, and committed volunteers have gathered at Fountain House in New York City to find relief from stigmatization and social alienation. Its “working community” approach has earned the organization vast critical recognition, enabling it to replicate its methods across the world. This volume describes the humanity, social inclusivity, personal empowerment, and perpetual innovation of the Fountain House approach. Evidence-based, cost-effective, and transferable, this model achieves crosscultural results by supporting the principles of personal choice, professional and patient collaboration, and the need to be needed, achieving substantive outcomes in employment, schooling, housing, and general wellness.”

 

Also, worth seeing is the best, free ready-reference source for mental health handouts from the National Institute of Mental Health.

I invite you to add your own favorite mental health books in the comments.

In Health,

William Jiang, MLS