The best books for Christians struggling with depression

Who am I?

As a pastor, I thought I had to be a put-together person. Sure, I was allowed to have problems, but I wasn’t really allowed to struggle. Then I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I thought I was alone. I thought I’d have to leave the ministry. I was wrong. I needed to find other people who struggled, though. Through other books, I was able to find them. These books have helped me in my journey so, so much, and if you struggle with depression, I hope it helps with your journey, too! 


I wrote...

Hollow Heart

By Luke Italiano,

Book cover of Hollow Heart

What is my book about?

The hollow heart of depression echoes lies. It whispers, "You're worthless. This is no big deal. If anyone knew who you really are, you would be alone. Give up. This will never end." Pastor Luke Italiano has long struggled with depression's lies. In these pages, he shows how depression is nothing new among God's people. He points to the hope they had and the hope you have. He presents ways to deal with depression in a Christian manner, while still being realistic about the struggle ahead.

Hollow Heart is a handbook for any Christian struggling with depression, as well as a guidebook for those who love someone with depression. Here is hope. Depression doesn't have you. You have depression. Jesus has you.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making

Luke Italiano Why did I love this book?

I bought this book, thinking it would be about Andrew Peterson’s creative process as he writes songs. Well, yeah, it’s about that. It’s also about his struggle with depression. He talks candidly about how he hid from others, wept, and thought he was worthless. And as I read his descriptions of his depression… I knew I was not alone. This is an intimate look at a singer and the darkness he battles. Thankfully, it’s not only brutal about depression, but also points to the light we have in Jesus. 

By Andrew Peterson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Adorning the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of The Wingfeather Saga and award-winning musician and storyteller, Andrew Peterson. 
Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, WORLD Magazine each named Adorning the Dark as one of their books of the year. 

Making something beautiful in a broken world can be harrowing work, and it can’t be done alone.
 
Over the last twenty years, Andrew Peterson has performed thousands of concerts, published four novels, released ten albums, taught college and seminary classes on writing, founded a nonprofit ministry for Christians in the arts, and executive-produced a film—all in a belief that God calls us to proclaim the…


Book cover of Courage, Dear Heart: Letters to a Weary World

Luke Italiano Why did I love this book?

We’re all broken in so many ways. This book presents a number of letters to different kinds of broken people. Have you been rejected? Are you scared? Are you alone? There are letters here that will touch your heart. They touched mine! I found someone who could speak poetry into my darkness and make me know that I was not alone. Reynolds also points to real hope, so that even in darkness, I could see a shining light. 

By Rebecca K. Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Courage, Dear Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“The world is broken. I am broken. And my need is dire.”

This stark revelation is the path to divine surrender. Our courage has a chance to flourish when we reach a point where we have no control and nothing to lose.

In a series of letters, Rebecca Reynolds uses imagery to breathe truth to the lonely, the weary, the restless, and afraid. If you feel the ache of brokenness, you will be refreshed by the source of all courage illuminated in these pages. God is available and wants to join you, in the midst of any mess. You can…


Book cover of When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend: Reflections On Life And Ministry With Depression

Luke Italiano Why did I love this book?

Being a Christian often means “faking it” on Sunday mornings. We’re all fine then. So often we internalize that and show a smile to the world when all we feel is shattered inside. This books gives voice to the darkness that so many Christians feel but don’t know how to express. Like the other books on my list, though, it also points to real hope. It also includes a list of resources in the back of the book. 

By Mark Meynell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Highly personal, honest and insightful. Author has struggled with depression for decades, and partly as a high-profile minister in All Souls Langham Place


Book cover of Jesus + Nothing = Everything

Luke Italiano Why did I love this book?

This book isn’t specifically about depression, but it helped me with my depression so, so much. Much of my depression was based on thinking I had to get people to like me, I had to accomplish so much, I had to… But this book reminded me in powerful ways that it’s not about what I do. It’s about what Jesus has already accomplished. This book will help with a lot of the “other things” that can make depression worse, so you can work directly on depression without having to worry about other spiritual pressures. 

By Tullian Tchividjian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jesus + Nothing = Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A proclamation of Christ's sufficiency that frees us from self-righteousness and keeps us anchored through storms. Stemming from a year of great turmoil, Tchividjian details the power of the gospel in his life.


Book cover of I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression

Luke Italiano Why did I love this book?

And sometimes it helps to know you’re not the only one who struggles. This is Pastor Todd Peperkorn’s struggle with depression. He writes about how hard it has been for him, including his struggle with suicidal thoughts. This is not a happy sunshiny book. It’s one that sighs and moans with pain. Peperkorn is very forward about how he’s hurt, and how Jesus has helped. As a pastor, it helped me see that I’m not the only one in ministry with this struggle! 

By Todd A. Peperkorn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Trust When Dark My Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rev. Todd Peperkorn’s autobiographical account is a gift to us, particularly those of us who are God’s blood-bought children. Peperkorn, a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod pastor, has granted us the privilege of looking deeply into the heart, mind, and soul of a Christian in the clenches of mental illness. We are a bit unnerved to imaginethat a Lutheran pastor, called to preach God’s Holy Word and to faithfully administer the Sacraments, could possiblysuffer such a fate. He challenges all our myths. In his story we see a bright, articulate man serving his church and hisparish as God gave Him light. We…


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Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

By Christina Ward,

Book cover of Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

Christina Ward Author Of Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

New book alert!

Who am I?

For me, history is always about individuals; what they think and believe and how those ideas motivate their actions. By relegating our past to official histories or staid academic tellings we deprive ourselves of the humanity of our shared experiences. As a “popular historian” I use food to tell all the many ways we attempt to “be” American. History is for everyone, and my self-appointed mission is to bring more stories to readers! These recommendations are a few stand-out titles from the hundreds of books that inform my current work on how food and religion converge in America. You’ll have to wait for Holy Food to find out what I’ve discovered.

Christina's book list on the hidden history of America

What is my book about?

Does God have a recipe? Independent food historian Christina Ward’s highly anticipated Holy Food explores the influence of mainstream to fringe religious beliefs on modern American food culture.

Author Christina Ward unravels how religious beliefs intersect with politics, economics, and, of course, food to tell a different story of America. It's the story of true believers and charlatans, of idealists and visionaries, and of the everyday people who followed them—often at their peril.

Holy Food explains how faith pioneers used societal woes and cultural trends to create new pathways of belief and reveals the interconnectivity between sects and their leaders.

Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat - An American History

By Christina Ward,

What is this book about?

Does God have a recipe?

"Holy Food is a titanic feat of research and a fascinating exploration of American faith and culinary rites. Christina Ward is the perfect guide – generous, wise, and ecumenical." — Adam Chandler, author of Drive-Thru Dreams

"Holy Food doesn't just trace the influence that preachers, gurus, and cult leaders have had on American cuisine. It offers a unique look at the ways spirituality—whether in the form of fringe cults or major religions—has shaped our culture. Christina Ward has gone spelunking into some very odd corners of American history to unearth this fascinating collection of stories…


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5 book lists we think you will like!

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