10 books like Depressive Illness

By Tim Cantopher,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Depressive Illness. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Underneath the Lemon Tree

By Mark Rice-Oxley,

Book cover of Underneath the Lemon Tree: A Memoir of Depression and Recovery

What I love about this book is the journey it takes you on, from despair to hope. At the start of the book, Mark is at the height of anguish with his depression. You read about what he did to start his recovery process; what worked and what didn’t, what he did wrong and what he got right. It gives you hope that you can make a similar journey and hope is the antidote to depression because it’s the main thing it takes from you, so it’s the main thing you need to find and cling on to; even the smallest amount of hope helps.

Underneath the Lemon Tree

By Mark Rice-Oxley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On paper, things looked good for Mark Rice-Oxley: wife, children, fulfilling job. But then, at his 40th birthday party, his whole world crumbled as he succumbed to depression...

How many men do you know who have been through periods when their lives haven't seemed right? How badly askew were things for them? Many men suffer from depression yet it is still a subject that is taboo. Men often don't visit the doctor, or they don't want to face up to feelings of weakness and vulnerability. By telling his story, Mark Rice-Oxley hopes it will enable others to tell theirs. In…


I Had a Black Dog

By Matthew Johnstone,

Book cover of I Had a Black Dog

Sometimes pictures express depression better than words, and that’s the case in this beautiful, powerful and hopeful little book. Depression can be hard to describe, hard to find the words to tell other people how you feel. Matthew Johnstone uses Winston Churchill’s image of depression as a black dog and in 48 pages reveals what depression can do to you. 

This book is especially good to show to your loved ones when you’re finding it hard to express the pain of your depression.

I Had a Black Dog

By Matthew Johnstone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Had a Black Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I Had a Black Dog says with wit, insight, economy and complete understanding what other books take 300 pages to say. Brilliant and indispensable.' - Stephen Fry

'Finally, a book about depression that isn't a prescriptive self-help manual. Johnston's deftly expresses how lonely and isolating depression can be for sufferers. Poignant and humorous in equal measure.' Sunday Times

There are many different breeds of Black Dog affecting millions of people from all walks of life. The
Black Dog is an equal opportunity mongrel.

It was Winston Churchill who popularized the phrase Black Dog to describe the bouts of depression he…


The Other Side of Silence

By Linda Gask,

Book cover of The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist's Memoir of Depression

This book is a beautiful, inspiring weaving tale of a psychiatrist who has recurrent depression and has worked with people with depression. She doesn’t disguise how hard depression is, she doesn’t patronise, she explains depression from her personal point of view, explores what happened in her childhood, and explains a clinician’s point of view of depression. 

It’s embedded with bucket loads of empathy, compassion, and hope. You hear about the patients she’s helped and you come out feeling humbled and grateful for her telling her story. Very useful for professionals working in psychiatry and mental health but equally useful for those of us with this terrible illness.

The Other Side of Silence

By Linda Gask,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.'

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Having spent her life trying to patch up the souls of others, psychiatrist Linda Gask came to realise that being an expert in depression didn't confer any immunity from it - she had to learn take care of herself, too. Artfully crafted and told with warmth and honesty, this is the story of Linda's journey, interwoven…


Skating To Antarctica

By Jenny Diski,

Book cover of Skating To Antarctica

This isn’t a traditional travel book and not a traditional memoir about depression, but a combination of both. Her journey to Antarctica becomes a metaphor for her mental health struggles throughout her life, starting from childhood. 

What I love about this book, and her writing in general, is the dark humour, her acerbic observations and true understanding of how paralysing and perilous depression can be. She understands how painful depression is, the depths it can take you to and seeing your own darkness reflected by someone else is both comforting and validating.

Skating To Antarctica

By Jenny Diski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Skating To Antarctica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I was so absorbed by her writing it was unreal . . . I find myself hungry to find the next morsel of who Jenny was and what her life was like' EMILIA CLARKE (on Why Didn't You Just Do What You Were Told?)

This strange and brilliant book recounts Jenny Diski's journey to Antarctica, intercut with another journey into her own heart and soul . . . a book of dazzling variety, which weaves disquisitions on indolence, truth, inconsistency, ambiguousness, the elephant seal, Shackleton, boredom and over and over again memory, into a sparse narrative, caustic observation and vivid…


The Red Tree

By Shaun Tan,

Book cover of The Red Tree

I bought The Red Tree many years ago because I thought its cover was so beautiful. I didn't even know its author, but from then on he became one of my favorite illustrators. And even today, I can say that The Red Tree is my favorite book of all time. It may seem it's about sadness or depression, but I prefer to think that it's the book that best defines hope. It is a book that I usually give to my friends when they are having a hard time. Because in the end, it is about this: we cannot avoid sadness, gray days, or feeling miserable, but we can look within ourselves for our little red tree and take care of it so that it grows strong and protects us.

The Red Tree

By Shaun Tan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Awakening one day to a dark and somber mood, a little girl faces a day where everything goes very badly, and seeks hope amid her sadness.


Happiness is a Choice

By Frank Minirth, Paul Meier,

Book cover of Happiness is a Choice: New Ways to Enhance Joy and Meaning in Your Life

Happiness is a Choice is a faith-based, definitive work that defines and helps people deal with the troubling elements of depression. Drawing from their professional training and counseling experience Minirth & Meier provide a thorough analysis of the factors that contribute to depression and offer solutions to cure it.

This book will deal with the vital connection between spiritual life and psychological health and establish basic steps that can be taken to recover from depression and maintain a happy, healthy, and fulfilling existence.

Happiness is a Choice

By Frank Minirth, Paul Meier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Happiness is a Choice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Whether depression is felt mildly or acutely, temporarily or persistently, it strikes just about everyone at some point. Drs. Minirth and Meier believe, however, that the emotional pain of depression can be overcome and avoided. Drawing from their professional training, counseling experience, and biblical knowledge, they explore the complex relationship between spiritual life and psychological health and then spell out basic steps for recovering from depression and maintaining a happy, fulfilling life.


The Noonday Demon

By Andrew Solomon,

Book cover of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

I am a superfan of Andrew Solomon’s and I urge you to read absolutely anything you can get your hands on, but this book is the actual Bible for understanding depression from the inside out. 

It seems uncommon that when your life is going well, when everything seems to be working out in your favor, that depression should descend and rob you of all your joy, but that’s exactly what happened to Andrew Solomon. The way he writes about depression is beyond comprehension because it’s beautiful and profound, exacting and sweeping. Reading this, or anything of his, is like getting your organs tattooed with the ink of his experience. This isn’t simply one man’s account of his uncompromising depression, rather it’s a survey and sociological account of depression. Inspired by a 1998 article Solomon wrote for The New Yorker, this book is a wild achievement. Yes, it’s long and…

The Noonday Demon

By Andrew Solomon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WITH A NEW EPILOGUE BY THE AUTHOR

Like Primo Levi's The Periodic Table, The Noonday Demon digs deep into personal history, as Andrew Solomon narrates, brilliantly and terrifyingly, his own agonising experience of depression.

Solomon also portrays the pain of others, in different cultures and societies whose lives have been shattered by depression and uncovers the historical, social, biological, chemical and medical implications of this crippling disease. He takes us through the halls of mental hospitals where some of his subjects have been imprisoned for decades; into the research labs; to the burdened and afflicted poor, rural and urban. He…


Not Today, Celeste!

By Liza Stevens,

Book cover of Not Today, Celeste!: A Dog's Tale about Her Human's Depression

Not Today, Celeste! is another terrific book that explains to young readers how to recognise depressive symptoms in others, and how these symptoms might affect your relationship with them. Celeste is a wonderful choice of protagonist - a dog whose human, Rupert, begins to suffer from depression. She is initially worried and wants to help, but doesn’t know how to, and is happy when he’s able to finally get help and go back to being his old self again. A perfect reader surrogate for a child whose parent or other loved one is struggling with depression. A very hopeful and warm book for a time when things might seem bleak and confusing.

Not Today, Celeste!

By Liza Stevens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Not Today, Celeste! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celeste thinks she is the happiest dog in the world. But when she notices something different about her human, Rupert, she wonders if things will ever be the same again.

Charmingly illustrated, this heart-warming story for children aged 3+ reflects some of the feelings and experiences that a child whose parent or carer has depression may face. When it comes to periods of low mood in a parent or carer, children can often feel that they are to blame, or even that the parent doesn't love them anymore. The story provides reassurance by explaining what depression is and how it…


When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend

By Mark Meynell,

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

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. 

When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend

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


Darkness Visible

By William Styron,

Book cover of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

I read Darkness Visible in the midst of my worst depressive episode around 2008. I remember relating completely to his vivid descriptions of highly abstract psychological sensations, impending doom, for example, in which one feels askew to her or his surroundings, like death is imminent but you don’t know from where or how. Styron describes depression as being not unlike physical pain, and that moment in which you simply and utterly succumb to a kind of unprecedented existential suffering, if you will. It is a moment of agony, tender, fierce and absolute. Without a hint of self-indulgence, his rendering of depression is immaculate, a reckoning of the self, a crucible.

Darkness Visible

By William Styron,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Darkness Visible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a story of depression a condition that reduced William Styron from a person enjoying life and success as an acclaimed writer, to a man engulfed and menaced by mental anguish. With profound insight and remarkable candor, Styron tracks the progress of his madness, from the smothering misery and exhaustion, to the agony of composing his own suicide note and his eventual, hard-won recovery. Illuminating an illness that affects millions but which remains widely misunderstood, this book is about the darkness of depression, but it is also ultimately about survival and redemption.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in major depressive disorder, depression, and Psychotherapy?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about major depressive disorder, depression, and Psychotherapy.

Major Depressive Disorder Explore 22 books about major depressive disorder
Depression Explore 66 books about depression
Psychotherapy Explore 62 books about Psychotherapy