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Do Self-Help Books Really Help?

Depression affects 14.8 million American adults. That’s nearly 6.7 percent of the United States population over the age of 18, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.  121 million people battle this epidemic worldwide. Although many have labeled self-help books as a form of mediocre entertainment, a study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) confirms that reading a few inspiring pages can prove effective as a form of treatment for depression.


A recent study appeared in PLOS One journal, supporting this claim.  Self-help materials were established as an effective solution for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Researchers are now spreading the news about the encouraging benefits of reading and the fact that contrary to popular belief, self-help books are quite useful.

In fact, reading in general is known to improve the quality of life in many ways. It can help to keep your brain sharp and prevent diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  Reading is also known to help with insomnia, concentration, vocabulary, and spelling. More importantly, reading can reduce stress, which is a growing concern for adults and teenagers.  USA Today’s Sharon Jayson reports a 35% increase in stress among Americans in recent studies, confirming the importance of simply taking a moment to download free ebooks or head out to the local library.

Where to Begin

Based on a study published in Professional Psychology, Research and Practice, the following is suggested when searching for resourceful reading material to help battle depression and even anxiety:

  • Search for the specifics. Find a book that relates to one disorder. Although some conditions are often linked to others, it is best to take on one battle at a time.
  • Research the author. Be sure to find a writer who is highly regarded in the academic community. An author with a doctorate degree or some attributed success should be first on your list.
  • Avoid over-exaggerated claims. If a book title is something like, The Only Book You’ll Ever Need in the Whole World, it is probably farfetched. Some things can be too good to be true; look for more realistic options that explore facts and strategies.
  • Find books supported by real evidence, and not just glamorous words. Self-help material should be well documented by research and evidence.
  • Locate material that provides step-by-step guidance. Avoid the general and look for simplified material that paves a path to recovery.
  • Workbooks or other tools that allow you to track progress are useful.

Top Self-Help Books is an expansive resource for finding highly regarded self-help books.  She is well known for her ability to inspire and her site is no different. The site also includes a section that covers many other self-help topics.

A few suggested titles include:

  • “If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?” By Cynthia Heimel
  • “I’m Too Sexy for My Volvo: A Mom’s Guide to Staying Fabulous” by Betty Londergan
  • “The Worry Cure” by Robert L. Leahy
  • “The Mystery Method” by Chris Odom
  • “Our Lady of Weight Loss” by Janice Taylor

Any general Internet search will easily offer an updated list of popular self-help titles from major online retailers. You many even find great reviews from other readers or be able to download free books.

For starters, a few recently updated or highly anticipated titles include:

  • “30 Days of Meditation” by Inbar Sharar
  • “Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year” by Demi Lovato
  • “What Are You Hungry For?” By Deepak Chopra
  • “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
  • “The Productive Person” by James Roper
  • “We Will Survive: True Stories of Encouragement” by Gloria Gaynor
  • “23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Get Results in Your Life” by S.J. Scott
  • “Hero (The Secret)” by Rhonda Bynre

Self-Help on a Budget

When searching for economical options for locating self-help resources, there are many options to consider. Local thrift shops and libraries often offer a wide selection of low-cost reading material. Also, many major online retailers provide opportunities to download free ebooks.  These sites will allow readers to search specific categories, such as self-improvement and health.

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  1. Rohit

    January 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I surf internet a lot for these self help books, some of them I bought. like “The Secret” by Rhonda Brayan, “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma, I found the very nice.., I will check your prescribed books, thanks for the Help 🙂

  2. Rob Owens

    January 13, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I totally agree that reading good quality respected authors in the “Self Help” genre will help some people depression. I know from personal experience it has helped me It’s great to see there is scientific evidence know supporting that.

  3. Dr. Olivia

    March 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Some great points here — especially the note about finding a self-help book tailored to your particular problem. For example, if you suffer with social anxiety, it won’t be as helpful to pick up a book just about anxiety, because much of it might not apply. It also might not take into account your particular issues, such as suggesting that you lean on a friend when you are anxious. Also — tackling one problem at a time is important when one piggy backs on the another — such as depression secondary to anxiety. Often when one issues starts to improve, the other will as well.

  4. Apu Mridha

    March 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    thanks for sharing this amazingly informative post.

    enjoyed every bit of it . 🙂


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