The resources listed below are by no means exhaustive. However, I do believe that these are some of the best resources you will be able to get your hands on. The list is broken up by subject. There are both Christian and non-Christian resources listed together. I trust the reader to use their own wisdom and best judgment over what will be helpful for them during this season of life.
If you are going through a season of depression or anxiety, please remember that while books will be helpful your greatest relief will come from a trusted friend, a wise counselor and a competent doctor. Don’t suffer in silence.
Books on Depression:
- Depression, Anxiety and the Christian Life: Practical Wisdom from Richard Baxter by Michael Lundy, J.I Packer and Richard Baxter
This is my favorite book on depression – which may surprise you, given that much of its content is several hundred years old. Believe me, I was surprised by this too! Yet the wisdom offered here (which has been slightly updated by Lundy and Packer) by Richard Baxter is incredibly relevant and applicable to today. He has a paradigm for understanding the depth of depression and anxiety, its impacts on the person, and balanced courses of treatment that is unparalleled in most modern resources. My advice is to skip to part two of the book and come back to part one later.
Of all the resources in this list, this is the number one book I would recommend to caretakers in particular.
- If I’m a Christian, Why am I Depressed? by Robert Somerville
This is my second favorite book on depression for a few reasons. First, because the author has decades of experience as a counseling professor and real life experience from going through an intense depression himself. Second, it is the best balance between theory and practice that I have found. Finally, it is the only book on this list which has a chapter for caretakers. Most books only talk about the person walking through suffering, and doesn’t provide help or counsel for those caring for the suffering individual.
- When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper
- Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Ed Welch
I like Ed Welch. This book tackles a lot – perhaps too much. For those who are in the midst of a terrible depression, I think it might be too long. For someone wanting to learn more about depression from a Christian perspective, this book is very good.
- Christian’s Get Depressed Too by David Murray
Short, concise, and helpful. I don’t think it has enough theory to form a foundation to think through the issues for yourself, but it gets right to the point. This book would be a great second one to purchase in addition to Somerville’s.
- Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine
It has given me great comfort as a Christian to read about the depression of one of my heroes of the faith. It helps me see that I’m not alone. While this book is practical, I think it is best for those who are already familiar with Spurgeon’s work – particularly pastors.
- Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression by Johann Hari
This book is a great diagnosis of the rising problem of depression in our society – but the solutions given by Hari are shallow and mostly unhelpful. The nine causes of depression and anxiety in our culture are spot on, and could be informative to those who have made progress in their own recovery or for those with family/friends struggling with depression and anxiety. I do not recommend this book to someone who is in the midst of a difficult season of depression or anxiety.
Books on Anxiety*:
*Note: For some reason, I just find there to be less resources available on anxiety. I haven’t spent as much time looking for them either, however. In general, I think most of the advice from the books on depression is highly applicable to anxiety. Many individuals who suffer from anxiety tend to fall into fits of depression, as well.
Books on Counseling and Suffering:
- Sipping Saltwater by Steve Hoppe
This book by my friend Steve Hoppe is very, very good. It is written for individuals, and he builds on the work that has come before him (Keller, Tripp, etc.) about personal idolatries that we worship in our lives. It is very concise, very practical, and very well-written. Check it out for yourself.
- Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
- Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul Tripp
This is the handbook for lay counseling in the church. Do you find yourself unsure what the Bible says about counseling, helping others, asking good questions, or meeting the needs of others walking through hard times? This is the book from you. Every Christian household should own a copy.
- Side by Side by Ed Welch
Books on other Mood Disorders, Psychiatry and the Place of Medicine:
- Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications by Michael Emlet
This is a wonderful, concise little book. It consolidates years of insights, books and journal articles into a very helpful little book. Emlet shows that the Bible has a lot of wisdom to give concerning the diagnosis/medication conversation. I am very grateful for this book.
- Blame it on the Brain? by Ed Welch
Welch’s book is very, very helpful. I do think some of the research is a little outdated, and I would love to see a second edition of it written soon. However, the paradigm he provides for thinking through the human being from a biblical perspective is excellent. He helps us determine the difference between spiritual and physical symptoms. I really love this book.
- Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life by Dr. Allen Frances
- Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker
This book, in addition to Saving Normal, The Emperor’s New Drugs, and Prozac Backlash all introduce the current crisis facing modern psychiatry and psychiatric medicine. I think they have all been very helpful in understanding the key issues in the conversation, as well as developing balanced wisdom for the place of psychiatric medicine. If you only had to choose one of the four books, I would say Anatomy of an Epidemic is the one to go with. Whitaker is an investigative journalist so his writing is easier to understand and absorb.
- The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Anti-Depressant Myth by Dr. Irving Kirsch
- Prozac Backlash: Overcoming the Dangers of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Other Antidepressants with Safe, Effective Alternatives by Dr. Joseph Glenmullen
- Good Mood Bad Mood: Help and Hope for Depression and Bipolar Disorder by Dr. Charles Hodges
- Lincoln’s Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk
Lincoln’s Melancholy is one of my favorite books of all-time. Part biography, part historical narrative, and part analysis of the history of psychiatric medicine, this book is just excellent. I came away from this book encouraged, with more understanding about myself, and more insight into the progression of psychiatric care. I couldn’t say enough good things about it.
- Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age by Dr. Bob Cutillo
Books on Trauma Studies*:
- The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dr. Dan Allender
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
Dr. Kolk shows how modern psychiatry has, until very recently, failed those who have suffered some kind of severe trauma (abuse, war, etc.). Kolk shows study after study how trauma impacts individuals, and suggests better ways forward for their care in our society. I really think this is a ground-breaking book.