14 Recommended Books for Psychiatry Patients


booksAn effective psychiatrist will own a bookshelf stocked with recommended reading for his patients.  He will have read a host of books on various topics, from sleep strategies to marital advice, so he knows what he is recommending. My psychiatrist has compiled the following list of recommended books for patients.

1. “A Deeper Shade of Blue,” by Ruta Nonacs. Nonacs, the associate director of the Center for Women’s Mental Health at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, offers a comprehensive guide on depression during the childbearing ages.

2. “Understanding Depression” by J. Raymond de Paulo, Jr. A complete handbook for anyone affected by depression and its related mood disorders. A timeless resource that answers every basic question about depression asked by a layman and presents modern science in a way that is easy to understand.

3. “Bipolar Disorder” by Francis Mondimore. An accessible guide for persons diagnosed with bipolar disorder and their family members, including information on treatment options, building a support system, improving quality of life, and planning for emergencies.

4. “An Unquiet Mind” by Kay Redfield Jamison. Writing from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, Jamison pens a powerful, candid memoir that has become a bestselling classic.

5. “Against Depression” by Peter Kramer. A sequel to his bestseller, “Listening to Prozac,” Kramer present readers with groundbreaking new research on depression as well as pathways toward resilience. He asserts that depression is the most devastating disease, refuting the notion of “heroic melancholy,” but also offers his readers hope to overcome it.

6. “How You Can Survive When They’re Depressed” by Anne Sheffield. A useful resource for family members and friends of persons suffering from depression. Sheffield offers an understanding of depression for persons affected by the illness as well as coping strategies that can be adopted.

7. “Should I Leave?” by Peter Kramer. A very thoughtful book on why people are drawn to each other, how they often end up driving each other crazy, and how figuring out how not to leave is just what they need most. His answer to the title question is almost always, “No.”

8. “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. A helpful guide for couples to understand each other and communicate more clearly. By identifying your partner’s primary love language—quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch—you will be able to strengthen and nurture your relationship.

9. “Monogamy” by Marianne Brandon. This is an intriguing book about embracing monogamy by recognizing that it takes hard work and continual, deliberate decisions.

10. “How to Love” by Gordon Livingston. Livingston, a practicing psychiatrist advises readers on how to find the right life partner by identifying dangerous patterns of behavior in relationships and then naming some essential virtues. The book is great for teens or young adults just beginning to date seriously.

11. “Staring at the Sun” by Irving Yalom. Once we confront our own mortality, asserts Yalom, we are free to love more deeply, communicate more clearly, appreciate goodness and beauty more often, and take more risks. We can also overcome much of our anxiety because the fear of death, he believes, is usually at the heart of our panic.

12. “Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart” by Gordon Livingston. Livingston culls his advice from decades of listening to patients tell him why they are unhappy as well as the hard-earned wisdom he gleaned after losing two sons within a 13-month period (his oldest to suicide, his youngest to leukemia). Organized into 30 compact chapters, or “truths,” he tackles challenging topics in accessible language.

13. “Quiet Your Mind and Get to Sleep” by Colleen Carney and Rachel Manber. This resourceful workbook offers a summary of cognitive behavioral therapy strategies, and is especially effective if the insomnia is experienced in the context of anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.

14. “Saving Normal” by Allen Frances. From the Chair of the DSM-IV Task Force, the “most powerful psychiatrist in America” (New York Times) comes a bold critique of the state of psychiatry in modern times, and how the direction that the DSM-V is taking us—mislabeling everyday problems as mental illness—undermines the resilience with which we were born and is destructive not only to individuals, but also to society as a whole.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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7 Responses
  1. My psychiatrist has never recommended a book to me. I’ve blabbed on to him about a book I’m reading and he pretty much goes ‘oh okay!’ 🙂

    1. Sonomom

      There at least ten titles on that list that I want to read! Do you think my husband and kids could fend for themselves for a few weeks while I plow through them? Seriously, I am adding some titles to a list of books to read. Thank you for providing this list…there are so many books out there that look interesting I appreciate that your psychiatrist (and you, I assume) have vetted these.

  2. Todd

    Thanks. It is interesting how how emotions can be triggered just by reading what a book is about. I suffer from anxiety and depression. When I read the author say that fear of death is at the root of panic, it made me think he doesn’t understand. Death is very appealing, to escape the hell that is being experienced. What I fear is how the brain responds in certain situations, the fight or flight response that is triggered. This is what is feared, the lack of control over the brain. And where it takes me. Not death, that would be a gift. I would hope any psychiatrist that writes on depression and anxiety, has experienced them on a deep level, or they will be lacking the key ingredient of being able to relate. That being said, thank you for sharing these. I am sure some wonderful advice in them.

  3. Ammah

    Thank you for this list of books but I am wondering as Mother we are born with an inborn manual to nurture. This is the truest of unconditional love . Yet from birth we are being taught to question & reject our mothers to find our own individual personality. Something is missing & desperately lacking in our society. We rush our children into doing things from the time they are born. We don’t give them free time for there brains to rest or stay idle and recharge. Are we over programing, labeling & relabeling them earlier & earlier? We have over analyzed & tryping on theories & myths.
    I am just wondering could depression be on the rise because we did not let the secure the mother & child bonding before it’s? We have tossed aside our own inborn manual along with the Placenta & replace it with self help books. I have enjoyed reading books but was one written to answer my needs or my child’s fully ?
    Estrangement is encouraged by social health care workers to finding once self & living for Now. I have lost my child not to depression & mental illness. I lost my child to the social heath care worker & no books have been written on this.

  4. melissa z

    This is very helpful. Thank you.
    Do you have an online support group for individuals suffering from major depression? Or suggest some place? Thank you