The best books to learn how to heal anxiety and depression

Who am I?

I am a psychoanalyst, AEDP psychotherapist, emotions educator, author, speaker, and blogger. My passion is sharing what I learned in my psychotherapy training with people interested in improving their emotional health. I became increasingly outraged that everyone did not have access to this crucial information on emotions so I started writing and teaching. After almost 20 years of teaching and using the Change Triangle, I have found it to be the most practical tool to increase emotional health and to reduce and heal anxiety and depression at its roots for lasting change. It is a true game-changer for well-being.


I wrote...

It's Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self

By Hilary Jacobs Hendel,

Book cover of It's Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self

What is my book about?

Our dysfunctional society teaches us to push away emotions instead of teaching us how to work with emotions in healthy ways. Pushing down emotions like anger, sadness, and joy, is precisely what leads to anxiety, depression, and a feeling of disconnection from our full self. 

It's Not Always Depression shows you how to work with your emotions for greater well-being now and over your lifetime. Through stories of healing and transformation, jargon-free science explanations, and gentle exercises this book teaches us all we need to know about emotions to thrive amidst the many emotional challenges of life. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Transforming Power of Affect: A Model for Accelerated Change

Hilary Jacobs Hendel Why did I love this book?

Before I learned about emotions, I believed my anxiety and depression had to be managed but could not be healed at the root. Learning that emotions were not under conscious control and that they were physical experiences that had purpose and meaning changed the way I understood myself for the better. It changed my mental health permanently and in the best ways. It gave me permission to be more authentic. I felt less ashamed of my feelings and more confident that I could help myself and be better in relationships.

By Diana Fosha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Transforming Power of Affect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first model of accelerated psychodynamic therapy to make the theoretical why as important as the formula for how, Fosha's original technique for catalyzing change mandates explicit empathy and radical engagement by the therapist to elicit and harness the patient's own healing affects. Its wide-open window on contemporary relational and attachment theory ushers in a safe, emotionally intense, experience-based pathway for processing previously unbearable feelings. This is a rich fusion of intellectual rigor, clinical passion, and practical moment-by-moment interventions.


Book cover of Internal Family Systems Therapy

Hilary Jacobs Hendel Why did I love this book?

Internal Family Systems Therapy by Richard Schwartz taught me a new way to think about the mind and complemented perfectly what I learned in The Transforming Power of Affect. So much of what causes human suffering has to do with conscious and unconscious conflicts. When we learn that our minds consist of various “parts” that can hold differing realities, memories, emotions, sensations, and more, it is so helpful for self-understanding and self-compassion. For me, I stopped trying to reconcile irreconciled aspects of myself and instead set out to learn about the different parts of myself. This further helped me integrate myself for greater well-being.

By Richard C. Schwartz, Martha Sweezy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Internal Family Systems Therapy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now significantly revised with over 70% new material, this is the authoritative presentation of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, which is taught and practiced around the world. IFS reveals how the subpersonalities or "parts" of each individual's psyche relate to each other like members of a family, and how--just as in a family--polarization among parts can lead to emotional suffering. IFS originator Richard Schwartz and master clinician Martha Sweezy explain core concepts and provide practical guidelines for implementing IFS with clients who are struggling with trauma, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, and other behavioral problems. They also address strategies for…


Book cover of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma

Hilary Jacobs Hendel Why did I love this book?

Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine explains how trauma becomes lodged in the body and how it gets released. Studying animals and how they don’t suffer trauma because they tremble through their emotions instead of thwarting them helped me gain more confidence to let emotions flow through my body. The explanation of trauma and how it is healed built my confidence that there is hope for healing our deepest wounds.

By Peter A. Levine,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Waking the Tiger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in 24 languages.

Nature's Lessons in Healing Trauma...

Waking the Tiger offers a new and hopeful vision of trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed.

Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on…


Book cover of Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self

Hilary Jacobs Hendel Why did I love this book?

I always recommend that my clients read up on the inhibitory emotion of shame. Shame is an emotion that adversely affects everyone. Toxic shame, the kind that creates deep insecurities, is insidious. Untreated it leads to depression and aggression. Understanding how shame and pride deeply affect the mind and body is a game-changer for health and well-being. This book is chock full of information you have likely never heard before.

By Donald L. Nathanson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Shame and Pride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing on every theme of the modern life sciences, Donald Nathanson shows how nine basic affects-interest-excitement, enjoyment-joy, surprise-startle, fear-terror, distress-anguish, anger-rage, dissmell, disgust, and shame-humiliation-not only determine how we feel but shape our very sense of self.

For too long those who explain emotional discomfort on the basis of lived experience and those who blame chemistry have been at loggerheads. As Dr. Nathanson shows, chemicals and illnesses can affect our mood just as surely as an uncomfortable memory or a stern rebuke. Linking for the first time the affect theory of the pioneering researcher Silvan S. Thomkins with the entire…


Book cover of The Psychology of Shame: Theory and Treatment of Shame-Based Syndromes

Hilary Jacobs Hendel Why did I love this book?

I recommend The Psychology of Shame by Gershen Kaufman because it is a manual for how to be with others in ways that are loving, kind, healthy, and healing. Our societies shame us left and right. And deep-seated toxic shame ultimately causes mental illnesses like chronic anxiety, eating disorders, addictions, and depression.

By Gershen Kaufman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Psychology of Shame as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic volume, Kaufman synthesizes object relations theory, interpersonal theory, and, in particular, Silvan Tompkins's affect theory, to provide a powerful and multidimensional view of shame. Using his own clinical experience, he illustrates the application of affect theory to general classes of shame-based syndromes including compulsive; schizoid, depressive, and paranoid; sexual dysfunction; splitting; and sociopathic. This second edition includes two new chapters in which Dr. Kaufman presents shame as a societal dynamic and shows its impact on culture. He examines the role of shame in shaping the evolving identity of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, and expands his theory…


You might also like...

Anatomy of Embodied Education: Creating Pathways to Brain-Mind Evolution

By E. Timothy Burns, Jim Brown,

Book cover of Anatomy of Embodied Education: Creating Pathways to Brain-Mind Evolution

E. Timothy Burns

New book alert!

What is my book about?

The vast mysterious terrain explored in this book encompasses the embodied human brain, the processes through which humans grow, develop, and learn, and the mystery of consciousness itself. We authors offer this guidebook to assist you in entering and exploring that terrain.

As parents and educators come to understand this terrain and these vital processes more fully, we also begin to see how we have been unnecessarily hampered by erroneous assumptions and flawed educational practices common to our culture. Then, seeing those impediments, we can create ways to move beyond them, allowing our children’s growth, development, and learning to proceed more freely and naturally.

Anatomy of Embodied Education: Creating Pathways to Brain-Mind Evolution

By E. Timothy Burns, Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

Imagine that you have obtained a guidebook for exploring a vast, mysterious forest that you have heard of, but have never known how to approach-a forest so intricate and lush that most people feel reluctant to enter it without an experienced guide, and yet so alluring that you long to wander its paths, follow its streams to their source, gain access to its panoramic views of terrains that have barely begun to be mapped.


What makes this terrain so alluring is that it enfolds largely untold knowledge of the processes through which humans grow, develop, learn. And as explorers understand…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Psychotherapy, shame, and PTSD?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Psychotherapy, shame, and PTSD.

Psychotherapy Explore 93 books about Psychotherapy
Shame Explore 16 books about shame
PTSD Explore 90 books about PTSD