Depression: self-help books

Coming Through Depression
Author Tony Bates, 2011

'A clearly written book and CD explaining what depression is how to recover and how to stay mentally healthy using mindfulness'.

Mindfulness approach
Review:
Dr. Tony Bates shares with the reader how he experienced and recovered from depression. He clearly explains what depression is and how it can have many different presentations, unique to each person. His book is enriched with stories from individuals who learned to deal with their thoughts and feelings instead of running away from them. He emphasises the importance of being open to asking for help and shows the value of having support from friends and family who want to help. In the final section he shows how people can recover and stay mentally healthy through the practical method of mindfulness. This is a simple and effective self-help approach. It is used widely by mental health professionals who have come to realise the limitations of using medication to treat many people presenting with depression. 

An Introduction To Coping With Depression
Authors Lee Brosnan & Brenda Hogan, 2007

'A clear self-help guide with practical exercises that the reader can work through'.

Suitable for Carers
Review:
This is a simple, clearly written booklet. Part one describes depression including myths, causes and treatments. Part two, entitled 'Coping With Depression' asks the reader to set small, achievable goals towards recovery. It also discusses 'negative thinking' and gives a step-by-step approach to problem solving. Finally, it encourages the reader to adopt a positive view of themselves.

Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison
Author Dorothy Rowe, 2003

'Easily readable and a practical guide. It is enriched by personal stories which may well resonate with readers'.

Review: Using the metaphor of a prison to describe depression, Dorothy Rowe takes the reader on a journey. She describes the prison through 'Building your prison' to 'Why I won't leave the prison' and ultimately 'Leaving the prison' and 'The prison vanishes'. Written in a clear non-medical way, Dr. Rowe illustrates her points with patient narratives. She challenges the reader's thinking in a non-threatening way and encourages you to recognise and deal with dysfunctional thinking and fears. Her detailed references at the back of this book show her scholarly approach to this subject.

Overcoming Depression
Author Paul Gilbert, 2009

'Sizable detailed book yet readable and sympathetic. Comprehensive'.

Review: A bigger, more detailed book than Coming Through Depression, it is nonetheless readable and sympathetic in tone, including numerous case examples. It provides step-by-step strategies for people experiencing depression, using cognitive therapy techniques. There is now a wealth of evidence supporting the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques in the treatment of depression. The techniques are relatively simple and can be self-administered by intelligent, literate and motivated people (however, it's worth noting that depression itself can undermine motivation). The idea is that depression (as well as anxiety, anger and other negative emotions) are often triggered and maintained by negative automatic thoughts which are overgeneralised, pessimistic and unrealistic. CBT enables the person to identify such thoughts, to devise more realistic alternatives and then to substitute these for the damaging, depressing thought patterns. Overcoming Depression sets out to explain CBT techniques and to guide the reader to use such strategies following practical step-by-step guidance.

Overcoming Depression and Low Mood: A Five Areas Approach
Author Chris Williams, 2012

'Very clear and easily understood. A workbook that will appeal to many readers'.

Suitable for Carers
Review:
This is a large workbook of 366 pages describing five approaches to dealing with low mood and depression. It is clearly written with many examples to illustrate the key points. Part one deals with understanding your feelings and part two covers "making changes" towards recovery. Whilst this is a comprehensive, expertly written workbook it would require substantial commitment from the reader to fully participate in the many exercises. It would be of value to those living with someone suffering from depression to help them understand low mood and to encourage the steps to recovery.

The Mindful Way Through Depression 
Author Mark Williams et al, 2007                     

'This is a detailed and scholarly work with exercises on CD. It is suitable for people who are keen to engage in a mindful way to maintain their mental health'.

Mindfulness approach
Review:
This is a scholarly book and CD aimed at people who are committed to practising the meditative approach called mindfulness. It will help individuals prevent or fully recover from depression. It is not for those currently in a state of deep depression but would be great and a useful guide once a patient is on the road to recovery. It is written by four top experts. The first section describes 'the healing power of awareness'. Part two expands on "how to" cultivate a mindful approach and be in the present moment. Part three 'transforming unhappiness', shows how to deal with good and bad feelings including feelings to which we are blind. The final part and CD give clear guidance on how to free yourself from chronic unhappiness and begin actively living again. 

The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Move Through Depression and Create a Life Worth Living
Author  Kirk Strosahl, 2008

'This is a 300 page workbook dealing with mindfulness and acceptance for treating people with depression. CD Included'.

Mindfulness approach
Review:
This is a detailed workbook and CD which give the reader a comprehensive programme to identify "depression traps" and how to develop "a mindful, values orientated" lifestyle. It would not appeal to all patients as it requires in-depth study to fully understand some of the analogies and terminology used.  This book would appeal most to those who have some knowledge and insight into mindfulness and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Depression: Post-natal

Overcoming Postnatal Depression: A Five Areas Approach 
Authors Chris Williams, Roch Cantwell & Karen Robertson, 2008

'Very clear and easily understood. A workbook that will appeal to many readers'.

Suitable for Carers
Review:
This book uses the Five Areas model of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) which is an accessible approach free of jargon. It focuses on helping people experiencing postnatal depression to change how they feel. The book helps the reader make key changes by examining five important aspects of their lives: 1. Life situation, relationships, resources and problems 2. Altered thinking 3. Altered feelings or moods 4. Altered physical symptoms or sensations and 5.Altered behaviour or activity levels. The book addresses all the common challenges faced by women during times of low mood after having a baby. It is clear and pragmatic helping the reader make positive changes in their life in a planned and achievable way. At a time when someone can feel overwhelmed this book makes recovery seem manageable through its step-by-step approach. It also offers advice to friends and relatives describing how they can offer support.