Best Books about Depression

Best Books about Depression

Best Books about Depression as Curated by former Columbia Psychiatry Library Chief

Best Books about Depression
Former Columbia Psychiatry/ NYSPI Library Chief, William Jiang, MLS

Bienvenidos! My name is William Jiang, MLS and I was 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. By 2020, the World Health Organization says that depression will be the number one cause of long term disability and death, worldwide.  The following are the best books about depression of the Columbia Psychiatry Patient Library during my tenure and of today.

Best Books about DepressionBest 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.”
  • 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
  • Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
    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.”
  • 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.”
  • 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.”
  • Shock
    by Kitty Dukakis “Kitty Dukakis has battled debilitating depression for more than twenty years. Coupled with drug and alcohol addictions that both hid and fueled her suffering, Kitty’s despair was overwhelming. She tried every medication and treatment available; none worked for long. It wasn’t until she tried electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, that she could reclaim her life. Kitty’s dramatic first-person account of how ECT keeps her illness at bay is half the story of Shock. The other half, by award winning medical reporter Larry Tye, is an engrossing look at the science behind ECT and its dramatic yet subterranean comeback. This book presents a full picture of ECT, analyzing the treatment’s risks along with its benefits. ECT, it turns out, is neither a panacea nor a scourge but a serious option for treating life threatening and disabling mental diseases, like depression, bipolar disorder, and others.”
  • The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (Book & CD)
    by Mark Williams  “If you’ve ever struggled with depression, take heart. Mindfulness, a simple yet powerful way of paying attention to your most difficult emotions and life experiences, can help you break the cycle of chronic unhappiness once and for all. In The Mindful Way through Depression, four uniquely qualified experts explain why our usual attempts to “think” our way out of a bad mood or just “snap out of it” lead us deeper into the downward spiral. Through insightful lessons drawn from both Eastern meditative traditions and cognitive therapy, they demonstrate how to sidestep the mental habits that lead to despair, including rumination and self-blame, so you can face life’s challenges with greater resilience. This enhanced e-book includes an audio program of guided meditations narrated by Jon Kabat-Zinn.”
  • 100 Questions & Answers About Depression
    by Ava T. Albrecht  “Empower Yourself! Approximately 35 to 40 million Americans will deal with depression at some point in their lives. 100 Questions & Answers About Depression, Second Edition provides practical, authoritative answers to key questions about depression. Written in an easy-to-understand style by two prominent psychiatrists, Drs. Ava T. Albrecht and Charles Herrick, this unique guide presents comprehensive information on causes of depression, treatment options, and coping techniques. This completely revised book includes essential new topics on risk factors associated with depression, brain therapies, physiological drug dependence, and more! The only book to feature both patient and doctor views, this invaluable resource has the tools you need to understand and deal with this debilitating condition.”
  • Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness
    by Joshua 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.”
  • Mind Over Mood, Second Edition: 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.”
  • His Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina
    by Danielle Steel “I want to share the story, and the pain, the courage, the love, and what I learned in living through it. I want Nick’s life to be not only a tender memory for us, but a gift to others. . . . I would like to offer people hope and the realities we lived with. I want to make a difference. My hope is that someone will be able to use what we learned, and save a life with it.”—Danielle Steel From the day he was born, Nick Traina was his mother’s joy. By nineteen, he was dead. This is Danielle Steel’s powerful, personal story of the son she lost and the lessons she learned during his courageous battle against darkness. Sharing tender, painful memories and Nick’s remarkable journals, Steel brings us a haunting duet between a singular young man and the mother who loved him—and a harrowing portrait of a masked killer called manic depression, which afflicts between two and three million Americans. At once a loving legacy and an unsparing depiction of a devastating illness, Danielle Steel’s tribute to her lost son is a gift of life, hope, healing, and understanding to us all.”
  • Churchill and the ‘Black Dog’ of Depression: Reassessing the Biographical Evidence of Psychological Disorder
    by Wilfred Attenborough “Winston Churchill is widely believed to have been at risk from a congenital tendency towards prolonged, despairing, even suicidal, depression, from which he is said to have sought escape in ceaseless career-related endeavour. In this, the first book-length sifting of all the available biographical evidence, including extracts from archival letters and papers and never before been published materials, the truth emerges as significantly less grave than legend has it, but somewhat more complex. An essay Churchill published first in 1925 as a magazine article with the deceptively mundane title ‘Hobbies’ emerges as the key to understanding the cultural icon’s actual psychological difficulties, and his management of them. Attenborough’s pioneering book provides a clearer and deeper understanding of Churchill the man, and it substantially modifies the established interpretation of the influence of his inner world on Churchill the politician and statesman.”

 

I invite you to add your own favorite books about depression in the comments.

In Health,

William Jiang, MLS