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- Best overall anxiety book: At Last a Life
- Best for cognitive behavioral therapy: Dare
- Best for mindfulness: Declutter Your Mind
- Best for humor: Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety
- Best for the latest research: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook
- Best for actionable lifestyle tips: The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution
- Best for historical information: My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind
- Best for relational advice: The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You
- Best for personal stories: From Panic to Power: Proven Techniques to Calm Your Anxieties, Conquer Your Fears, and Put You in Control of Your Life
- Best for specific techniques: Hope and Help for Your Nerves
- Best for learning about medication: When Panic Attacks
- Best workbook: Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program for Beating the Panic Trick
- Best for in-depth understanding: The Anxiety and Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution
Anxiety comes in many forms and can affect people in different ways. If you’re dealing with anxiety, you’re definitely not alone. It’s the most common mental health issue facing Americans. Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States, which is about 18 percent of the population.
Anyone living with anxiety knows it can have a direct effect on your quality of life. The good news is that anxiety, in all its forms, is treatable.
The most common treatments for anxiety are psychotherapy, stress management techniques, medication, and aerobic exercise. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment. You may find yourself combining techniques to manage symptoms.
Self-help books can be a good way for you to learn about new techniques or try things that have worked well for others. The books below offer a variety of constructive ways to tackle anxiety symptoms from different perspectives.
The books on this list were chosen because of the tools and techniques they recommend for curbing anxiety. Some books listed were written by doctors and professionals in mental health, while others were written by people who have experienced and overcome anxiety firsthand.
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When you’re going through long-term panic and anxiety, it can feel like you’ve lost control of your life. Seeing a future free from anxiety may seem hard to envision.
Author Paul David wrote “At Last a Life” to share his story of recovery and provide hope for others that it’s possible to regain your life. The book is based on a combination of his personal story, as well as research he’s done on anxiety.
- includes both personal stories and science-backed research
- many reviews state the book has been life-changing
- much higher price point than other books
Best for cognitive behavioral therapy
Author Barry McDonagh asks readers to “dare” anxiety to do its worst.
This book focuses on facing anxious thoughts — and challenging them — instead of feeding into them or trying to ignore them.
McDonagh’s technique is based on scientific evidence and his 10 years of helping people with anxiety. The book also comes with a free app and audiobook to use for relaxation and anxiety relief.
- based on scientific evidence
- comes with free app and audiobook
- reviewers say the book is a simplified version of cognitive behavioral theory (CBT), with no new information
Best for mindfulness
You’ve heard how helpful decluttering your living space can be. “Declutter Your Mind” applies this same philosophy to your mental space, with the idea that negative and anxious thoughts take up valuable mental real estate.
The book focuses on teaching you mindfulness by reframing your negative thoughts. It uses techniques to allow you to be present in the moment and take control of your thought process.
- great for people interested in mindfulness
- quick read
- some users found that the writing isn’t very engaging
Best for humor
If you’re not into traditional self-help books and want to tell anxiety to eff off, “Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety” may be the read for you.
The book’s philosophy is that reading a self-help book shouldn’t feel like a chore. In the book, author Robert Duff speaks candidly and weaves swearing and humor throughout the information and actionable tips.
- entertaining to read
- has a sequel related to depression
- short and not particularly in-depth
Best for the latest research
Facing anxiety takes work. Without a guide, many of us don’t know where to start. “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook” is exactly what the title suggests.
This workbook is designed to help you learn tools and skills to manage anxiety symptoms effectively. Written by a cognitive behavioral therapist, the workbook is based on current clinical research on anxiety and its treatment.
- written by a cognitive behavioral therapist
- revised and updated for 2020 to focus on the latest research
- pricier than comparable options
Best for actionable lifestyle tips
An unbalanced diet can have effects on more than cholesterol and blood pressure. As “The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution” suggests, foods also impact brain chemistry and emotions.
The book offers tips on how to eat more nutrients and reduce cravings. There are also lifestyle tips for how to reduce anxiety symptoms and how the food we eat plays a role in those symptoms.
- provides actionable tips for lifestyle and diet
- written by a nurse
- information seems to be largely based on two other popular books
Best for historical information
Anxiety can be a deeply personal experience. Many people experience it in different ways.
Author Scott Stossel draws on his own personal journey with anxiety to explore the condition’s history. He also offers the opinions of scientists, philosophers, and other writers.
In addition to recalling the many treatments — including some strange ones — that were developed to relieve anxiety, “My Age of Anxiety” also provides personal stories of people who’ve found success in controlling their symptoms.
- shares personal stories with an honest and frank tone of voice
- well-researched, with science-backed information
- described as a “history lesson” by some reviewers
Best for relational advice
If others have described you as “too sensitive” or “too shy,” according to psychotherapist Elaine Aron, PhD, you might be a highly sensitive person.
Aron’s book, “The Highly Sensitive Person,” is designed to help you recognize these traits and understand them to improve your life and personal relationships.
Her perspective comes from a place of understanding, since Aron herself identifies as a highly sensitive person.
- written by a psychotherapist who self-identifies as a highly sensitive person
- includes actionable takeaways
- the research feels lacking and may be out of date
Best for personal stories
From Panic to Power: Proven Techniques to Calm Your Anxieties, Conquer Your Fears, and Put You in Control of Your Life
Panic attacks can leave you feeling powerless and out of control.
In her book “From Panic to Power,” author Lucinda Bassett shares how she personally used techniques to manage anxiety and reclaim power over her life.
She offers skills and methods to help you respond to anxious thoughts and negative self-talk.
- based on the author’s personal experience
- has sold over 72,000 hardcover copies
- reviewers do not feel the book contains enough helpful advice and resources
Best for specific techniques
The physical symptoms caused by anxiety may seem minor to people who’ve never experienced them. But to people who live with anxiety daily, they can make a big difference in quality of life.
The late Dr. Claire Weekes drew on her years of helping patients with anxiety to offer step-by-step guidance. “Hope and Help for Your Nerves” teaches you techniques for analyzing and understanding your own anxiety so you can focus on management and relief.
- walks you through techniques to help minimize anxiety
- covers many specific scenarios that are common for people with anxiety
- information and research may be outdated
Best for learning about medication
Anxious thoughts can be pretty deceitful. They’re not actually grounded in reality, but they feel so legitimate when you’re having them.
“When Panic Attacks” aims to help you recognize and confront your anxious thoughts.
Dr. David Burns is a believer in treating anxiety without medication. He also shares the latest research on anxiety and depression medications and why he feels they may sometimes do more harm than good.
- provides 40 helpful techniques to help anxiety
- includes workbook-style surveys and questions
- research may be outdated
Panic attacks can be downright terrifying if you don’t know what’s happening. Even after you’ve become familiar with them, they can still make you feel out of control and helpless.
The “Panic Attacks Workbook” is designed to help you understand panic attacks and break the cycle of anxious responses leading to them. It uses charts and worksheets to help you literally work through recovery.
- clearly explains how panic attacks work
- utilizes charts and worksheets
- may not apply to people with generalized anxiety
Best for in-depth understanding
CBT has been proven as one of the most effective treatments for anxiety.
Dr. Aaron T. Beck, a clinician researcher, and David A. Clark, PhD, cognitive behavior therapy expert, have put the CBT techniques used by therapists into a workbook for you.
“The Anxiety and Worry Workbook” offers tools to better understand and manage anxiety thoughts and triggers.
- treatment approach was developed and tested over 25 years
- includes worksheets and homework
- the back-and-forth from the book and worksheets can be overwhelming
|Price||What it’s best for||Customer rating|
|Dare||$$$||learning about cognitive behavioral therapy skills||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|Declutter Your Mind||$$||implementing mindfulness into your day-to-day||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety||$||funny stories and making light of hard situations||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook||$$$||doing activities to help you make sense of feelings of anxiety or panic||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution||$$$||lifestyle tips that you can carry with you||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind||$$$||historical information and scientific data to back up advice||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You||$$$||people who often feel overwhelmed by worldly events and things going on around them||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|From Panic to Power: Proven Techniques to Calm Your Anxieties, Conquer Your Fears, and Put You in Control of Your Life||$$$||personal anecdotes||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|Hope and Help for Your Nerves||$$||learning specific techniques to help with your anxiety||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|At Last a Life||$$$||science-backed techniques on approaching anxiety||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|When Panic Attacks||$$$||learning about meditation||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program for Beating the Panic Trick||$$$||guided activities and journaling prompts||4.5 out of 5 stars|
|The Anxiety and Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution||$$||in-depth understanding about anxiety and panic||4.5 out of 5 stars|
There are many different methods of dealing with anxiety, ranging from CBT to mindfulness to medication. Some methods may work better for certain people than for others. If you’re interested in learning about specific areas, you should look for a book that focuses on those techniques.
It’s also a good idea to look for a book written by a qualified professional, such as a doctor (an M.D.), therapist, counselor, or psychologist. This way, you can feel confident that all information included is vetted and science-backed.
Alternatively, some books about anxiety are written by non-medical professionals and simply focus on the author’s personal experience. Should you feel that this is most helpful in your anxiety journey, there are plenty of reads you can pick up that dive into people’s personal anecdotes.
Finally, you may want to look for a book that was published as recently as possible. A book that came out 10 to 20 years ago most likely will not include the most up-to-date information about mental health conditions, medication, or helpful techniques.
You may want to consider seeing a mental health professional for anxiety if:
- your symptoms significantly interfere with your daily life
- you’re experiencing physical symptoms in addition to mental ones
- you’ve been experiencing these symptoms for a long period of time
Your primary care physician can refer you to a psychologist or therapist if needed. These professionals will be able to help you find methods to manage your anxiety.
What is the difference between stress and anxiety?
Most of the time, an external trigger causes stress. Stress can be short-term during times of relational difficulty or extra tasks at work. Anxiety, however, may have no discernible cause. It can be persistent and escalate into anxiety or panic attacks, or uncomfortable physical symptoms.
What is the best book to overcome anxiety?
Our pick for the best overall book on anxiety is “At Last A Life” by Paul David. However, there are dozens of anxiety-based books on the market, many of which cover different research or personal experiences. A single book might not be as helpful to some people as others.
Can reading books help with anxiety?
Yes! Reading can help with anxiety by easing stress and helping your body and mind relax. Some doctors even incorporate bibliotherapy (treatment through the use of books) for patients with mental health conditions.
Reading books about anxiety can be a good way to help you think more positively and find ways to manage anxiety attacks.
It is important to remember that although these books can be helpful, they shouldn’t take the place of working with a licensed mental health professional.
If you feel like you need help managing your anxiety, schedule an appointment with a professional.