The best books about depression

6 authors have picked their favorite books about depression and why they recommend each book.

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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.


Who am I?

I’m a Brighton based writer. I’ve lived with bloody depression and frigging anxiety, since a child. I’m the founder of The Recovery Letters project, which publishes online letters from people recovering from depression, addressed to those experiencing it. It was published as a book in 2017 and Cosmopolitan named it "One of the 12 mental health books everyone should read". I also edited What I Do to Get Through: How to Run, Swim, Cycle, Sew, or Sing Your Way Through DepressionMy fourth book, How to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off, is due out in 2022.


I wrote...

How To Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

By James Withey,

Book cover of How To Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

What is my book about?

Trying to manage the range of symptoms that depression throws at you is like navigating the dark ocean floor when you are without a torch and don't know how to swim. How do you manage something that feels utterly unmanageable? How do you get through each day when depression is telling you you're a worthless lump of camel spleen? What you need is a guide. A really good one. You need to know what works and what to do.

This book gives you 40 ways to get to a better place with depression. They are born out of the author's personal experience of clinical depression and his many years of working as a counsellor helping people with their mental health. James lives with depression and knows its lies, the traps it makes and how to dodge when it starts spitting bile in your face. Nice, eh?

The Girl on the Red Pillow

By Angelika Rust,

Book cover of The Girl on the Red Pillow

A thinly veiled discussion about depression, The Girl on the Red Pillow does something I never thought possible: make depression humorous and interesting. Well...it doesn't actually make depression humorous but allows for humor to exist in a story about the topic.

From the first moment you get to meet the wall building dwarf, to the final moment when Annalee finally comes to terms with her depression and looks toward the future, you will be urged forward as you hope Annalee finds the answer to her troubles, especially if you're someone who has dealt with their own wall-building dwarf.


Who am I?

As an independent author, I’ve been lucky enough to find a wealth of other independent authors out there. People who are doing things that aren’t quite mainstream. Artists who are experimenting with the written word and doing truly unique things. Where the world is filled with books made for the sole purpose of being turned into movies, these authors are creating works of fiction that are suited for the written word. Masterpieces that will make you think and want to find even more new forms of fiction. Simply put, independent authors are pushing books into new realms that you simply can’t find in the mainstream market.


I wrote...

The Agora Files - Part 1

By Adam Oster,

Book cover of The Agora Files - Part 1

What is my book about?

When dying alone on the hot sands of the Mohave Desert, Cyrus has no regrets. He loves a challenge. Being tasked with running from San Francisco to Boston in fifteen days, while the United States government and a host of bounty hunters hunt for him, sounds like fun. Being at death’s door only a day into his trip doesn’t faze him either. It’s when he’s joined by fellow runner Eve, bringing new emotions to the surface, his confidence cracks.

The Agora Files follows Cyrus Rhodes, a smuggler in a dystopian near-future, as he unwillingly works to take down a corrupt government. This series is a non-stop thrill ride of a road trip across America that looks to expose who the real villains are.

Depressive Illness

By Tim Cantopher,

Book cover of Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong

This book saved my life. And no, I’m not exaggerating. I read it at the peak of my depression when I’d lost all hope and my emotional pain was at its peak. I spent the whole time going ‘Yes! That’s me, that’s happening to me! Thank god someone understands’. 

It is short, so that you can actually finish it. This is SO important when your concentration has evaporated due to depression. It’s written by a psychiatrist who understands what your brain is doing but also, crucially, tells you what to do and emphasises how serious this illness is.


Who am I?

I’m a Brighton based writer. I’ve lived with bloody depression and frigging anxiety, since a child. I’m the founder of The Recovery Letters project, which publishes online letters from people recovering from depression, addressed to those experiencing it. It was published as a book in 2017 and Cosmopolitan named it "One of the 12 mental health books everyone should read". I also edited What I Do to Get Through: How to Run, Swim, Cycle, Sew, or Sing Your Way Through DepressionMy fourth book, How to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off, is due out in 2022.


I wrote...

How To Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

By James Withey,

Book cover of How To Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

What is my book about?

Trying to manage the range of symptoms that depression throws at you is like navigating the dark ocean floor when you are without a torch and don't know how to swim. How do you manage something that feels utterly unmanageable? How do you get through each day when depression is telling you you're a worthless lump of camel spleen? What you need is a guide. A really good one. You need to know what works and what to do.

This book gives you 40 ways to get to a better place with depression. They are born out of the author's personal experience of clinical depression and his many years of working as a counsellor helping people with their mental health. James lives with depression and knows its lies, the traps it makes and how to dodge when it starts spitting bile in your face. Nice, eh?

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.


Who am I?

I’m a Brighton based writer. I’ve lived with bloody depression and frigging anxiety, since a child. I’m the founder of The Recovery Letters project, which publishes online letters from people recovering from depression, addressed to those experiencing it. It was published as a book in 2017 and Cosmopolitan named it "One of the 12 mental health books everyone should read". I also edited What I Do to Get Through: How to Run, Swim, Cycle, Sew, or Sing Your Way Through DepressionMy fourth book, How to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off, is due out in 2022.


I wrote...

How To Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

By James Withey,

Book cover of How To Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

What is my book about?

Trying to manage the range of symptoms that depression throws at you is like navigating the dark ocean floor when you are without a torch and don't know how to swim. How do you manage something that feels utterly unmanageable? How do you get through each day when depression is telling you you're a worthless lump of camel spleen? What you need is a guide. A really good one. You need to know what works and what to do.

This book gives you 40 ways to get to a better place with depression. They are born out of the author's personal experience of clinical depression and his many years of working as a counsellor helping people with their mental health. James lives with depression and knows its lies, the traps it makes and how to dodge when it starts spitting bile in your face. Nice, eh?

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.


Who am I?

I’m a Brighton based writer. I’ve lived with bloody depression and frigging anxiety, since a child. I’m the founder of The Recovery Letters project, which publishes online letters from people recovering from depression, addressed to those experiencing it. It was published as a book in 2017 and Cosmopolitan named it "One of the 12 mental health books everyone should read". I also edited What I Do to Get Through: How to Run, Swim, Cycle, Sew, or Sing Your Way Through DepressionMy fourth book, How to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off, is due out in 2022.


I wrote...

How To Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

By James Withey,

Book cover of How To Tell Depression to Piss Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

What is my book about?

Trying to manage the range of symptoms that depression throws at you is like navigating the dark ocean floor when you are without a torch and don't know how to swim. How do you manage something that feels utterly unmanageable? How do you get through each day when depression is telling you you're a worthless lump of camel spleen? What you need is a guide. A really good one. You need to know what works and what to do.

This book gives you 40 ways to get to a better place with depression. They are born out of the author's personal experience of clinical depression and his many years of working as a counsellor helping people with their mental health. James lives with depression and knows its lies, the traps it makes and how to dodge when it starts spitting bile in your face. Nice, eh?

The Smiling Mask

By Carla Joan O'Reilly, Peggy Collins, Tania Bird, Elita Paterson

Book cover of The Smiling Mask: Truths about Postpartum Depression and Parenthood

This book focused on three stories from women who experienced postpartum depression in varying degrees. Through the stories, it raises awareness about various degrees of postpartum depression and the spectrum of symptoms. The stories are raw and emotional.  And yes, I cried through many parts of the story.

The title refers to how we try to hide from the realities of parenting by wearing smiling masks even when we are depressed. A must-read for ANY parent – any gender, any experience level.


Who am I?

I started this book in 2007. It was a compilation of stories from my experience as a parent; there was no structure to it at all. When my second husband passed in 2017, an ad appeared in Facebook for Author Academy Elite (AAE). I knew it was my late husband giving me that one final push to get the book done. As a (non) perfect parent of three children, I felt my experience could benefit others as I am continuing my journey along my Path to Perfection. As a person who has struggled with depression for her entire life, I can honestly say that parenting is hard. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. And that’s why I think you’ll enjoy these books!


I wrote...

The Path to Perfection: Parenting without a roadmap: tales from a (non) perfect parent

By Dawn Thomas-Cameron,

Book cover of The Path to Perfection: Parenting without a roadmap: tales from a (non) perfect parent

What is my book about?

If Perfection were an actual place, like a city or town, would there be one clearly marked exit on the road there? One that would result in you winding up in a specific location with a plethora of other perfect parents? Would this Path to Perfection be smooth and straight? Or would it be curvy, bumpy, and fraught with detours? More importantly, would anyone actually be there when (or if) you arrived?

Join author, Dawn Thomas-Cameron, as she explores the answers to these questions and more! The Path to Perfection is broken into three main sections: Things That Could Have Been Done Differently, Things I Handled Like a Rock Star! and Pearls of Wisdom. This book is sure to evoke a rollercoaster of emotions as you journey along. And yes, you will cry during parts. That’s the nature of parenting.

Night Shifts Black

By Alyson Santos,

Book cover of Night Shifts Black

The writing is lyrical and lovely. This is a different kind of rockstar romance. It’s haunting and super emotional. This is another book that I feel would benefit someone having a hard time and another one that reinforces that music can be powerful and healing. Alyson is a musician herself and wrote all the music in the series. I think that makes it extra special. This is also a tamer type of romance so a wider audience can enjoy it.

I love that it clearly shows you can have everything at your fingertips but still be unhappy and unfulfilled. It’s a great story that normalizes anxiety and depression, even for those who seem to be on top of the world. I also adore how open and accepting the heroine is. Not that she’s a pushover, she’s just very understanding of the hero's struggles.

As a romance writer and reader, I…


Who am I?

My two passions in life have always been music and reading. I was a punk rock girl, with wildly colored hair and a plethora of tattoos, who has never missed a chance to lose herself in a romance novel. I love it when my two favorite things collide in wonderful ways. I still read whatever I can get my hands on, but now I write some of those beloved books as well. Several of them have been bestsellers and many are published in various languages. My mosh-pit days are long gone, but you can still find me at a Social Distortion concert whenever they come to town. If you’ve got a rebellious heart and an ear for music that isn’t as mainstream, I’m sure you will love these books I recommended as much as I do.


I wrote...

Rule

By Jay Crownover,

Book cover of Rule

What is my book about?

Rule is a new adult novel that encompasses what it’s like to figure yourself out when you finally step out into the world on your own. What it means to live and love on your own terms. It also focuses heavily on a bunch of different subcultures one might run into in their twenties… the same way I did.

Opposites in every way . . . except the one that matters. Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight – A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn't want – and the only person she's never tried to please. She isn't afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won't listen. The first Marked Men novel in Jay Crownover's combustible New Adult series.

Hug Me

By Simona Ciraolo,

Book cover of Hug Me

Hug Me depicts the story of Felipe, a young cactus, who just wants to be hugged. The problem is that his family just isn't the touchy-feely kind. It leads Felipe to go on his own path to find a friend. But hugging a cactus can be a tricky thing... This simple yet touching story will make you see the prickliest person as someone who also needs to be loved and hugged. I promise you, this cute little cactus will melt your heart!


Who am I?

I am a freelance illustrator who specializes in children’s literature. I now live in Montreal, surrounded by my little family, after many years spent in London as a Winnie the Pooh character artist for the Walt Disney Company. What's Up, Maloo? is my first book as an author and was inspired by my own experience of suffering with anxiety and depression. I wanted to create Maloo as a tool for children and adults to discuss the importance of being well surrounded and to reach out to a friend when we are feeling low.


I wrote...

What's Up, Maloo?

By Geneviève Godbout,

Book cover of What's Up, Maloo?

What is my book about?

Maloo the kangaroo has lost his "hop". The book explores the idea of sadness and the importance of friendship through ups and downs. No other kangaroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo's friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What's wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. And with patience, support, and a little "hop" from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back.

Simple text and illustrations convey the power of friendship over a gloomy mood.

Where Happiness Begins

By Eva Eland,

Book cover of Where Happiness Begins

Where Happiness Begins is a clever picture book that depicts happiness as a character that can take any shape and form. Sometimes it is hard to find. And sometimes it is right there with us. The illustrations are bright and beautiful. To me, we should read it frequently as a gentle reminder that happiness always begins within ourselves.


Who am I?

I am a freelance illustrator who specializes in children’s literature. I now live in Montreal, surrounded by my little family, after many years spent in London as a Winnie the Pooh character artist for the Walt Disney Company. What's Up, Maloo? is my first book as an author and was inspired by my own experience of suffering with anxiety and depression. I wanted to create Maloo as a tool for children and adults to discuss the importance of being well surrounded and to reach out to a friend when we are feeling low.


I wrote...

What's Up, Maloo?

By Geneviève Godbout,

Book cover of What's Up, Maloo?

What is my book about?

Maloo the kangaroo has lost his "hop". The book explores the idea of sadness and the importance of friendship through ups and downs. No other kangaroo can hop like Maloo! But one day Maloo's friends find him stepping instead of hopping. What's wrong, Maloo? His pals look for ways to help Maloo regain the spring in his step. And with patience, support, and a little "hop" from his friends, Maloo gets his bounce back.

Simple text and illustrations convey the power of friendship over a gloomy mood.

Taproot

By Keezy Young,

Book cover of Taproot: The Gardener and A Ghost

I love this graphic novel, with its muted, earthy colours. Hamal, the gardener, can see ghosts. At the time the story starts he seems to have found his feet, but he talks about his depression as a teen, which is one of the reasons why I think it can be included here; that sort of thing is never entirely left behind. Another is the emotions of the ghosts he encounters and tries to help; a lot of what the ghosts are experiencing, even apparently-cheerful Blue, who is in love with Hamal, can be read as akin to the lost greyness of various degrees of depression. It's a gentle, thoughtful story, well-told with lots of humour, and it has lovely art. 


Who am I?

I’m a guitar-playing Canadian novelist, born in Kingston. Depression isn’t something that comes explicitly into most of my work, beyond a preference to write about people on the edges, never quite fitting. Lately I’ve begun to think about how in fiction we make and find metaphors for the things we’re carrying, and how sometimes those can help us to come to, if not always a way through, at least a quiet place to gain strength again. I’ve found the books on this list all do that, one way or another. I hope you might find that in them too.


I wrote...

Love/Rock/Compost

By Kris Jamison,

Book cover of Love/Rock/Compost

What is my book about?

Love/Rock/Compost is a hopeful book about depression — or about music, gardening, persistent depressive disorder, and being in love. It's the story of Lindsey Quinlan, an unemployed botanist who's been staggering onwards under the weight of varying degrees of depression for much of his adult life; of his partner, the effervescent guitarist Thomas Smith Gorev; and of Thomas's struggling band. It's not about easy answers or quick fixes, but a journey undertaken together, through dark times and sunlight. It's funny; it's filled with music; it looks at families, biological and found, in all their messy complexity. Ultimately, it's a story meant to comfort and to leave you feeling better.

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