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Bibliotherapy: Freeing Yourself From Depression, Anxiety, Stress And OCD

Apr 28, 2008
If you feel that you could manage your depression, anxiety, OCD or stress if only you had the tools, then why not try a good self-help book. This is a cheaper option for those who cannot afford private therapy or give those waiting to see an NHS Cognitive Behavioural Therapists (CBT), the foundation to begin to manage their own mental-health.

There is wealth of self-help books out there and it can be overwhelming deciding which ones will be most useful. I regularly prescribe reading and practical exercises taken from self-help manuals as part of CBT and NLP treatment at my therapy practice in Edinburgh. In this article, I list and describe some of the books that I have found most useful in relation to specific problems, in a bid to make choosing the book for you a bit easier!

For Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

My book of choice is "Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - A self-help guide using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques" by David Veale and Rob Willson. This book is a clear and practical step-by-step guide to regaining control of your OCD and your life! The book contains a CBT approach that is specifically aimed at OCD. This is very important since some CBT approaches used to treat other problems such as anxiety and depression can be unhelpful when applied to OCD. This book is applicable to OCD in it's varying forms, e.g. for those who experience pure obsessions, for those who carry out internal mental rituals and for those who display compulsive behaviours. What I like about this book is that it is very frank and can help to show the person with OCD that they need not be ashamed of the content of their intrusive thoughts, images and urges. Some of the people I work with using CBT in Edinburgh, have found that they need help in applying the book from a therapist.

For Depression

I recommend " The Cognitive Behavioural Workbook for Depression" by William Knaus. This book combines Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy and common sense in an easy to follow format that includes practical exercises that can help you find your way out of a depressive state. By practising the techniques presented in the book, you can learn the skills to defeat depressive thinking. The book takes into account all factors related to being depressed that can make any action difficult and gives you tips on how to deal with procrastination, lack of energy and motivation.

I also recommend "The Mindful way Through Depression - Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness" by Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Zinn. Mindfulness is a technique that has its origins in Buddhism but that is used without any religious connotations within the field of cognitive therapy to help people learn to break the cycle of mental habits such as rumination and self-blame which perpetuate depression. Mindfulness involves disengaging from this type of mental activity. This book is written in the format of a program and includes a CD to follow of guided mindfulness meditation practices.

Mindfulness techniques are very useful for anxiety and OCD disorders also.

For Anxiety and Stress

A useful book that I use with people seeking CBT therapy, Edinburgh is "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" by Edmund Bourne. This is a really comprehensive book that gives step-by-step guidance in overcoming anxiety and covers various factors including relaxation and meditation skills, exercise, coping with panic, dealing with negative self-talk and irrational beliefs, visualisation, self-esteem, medication, nutrition and more.

Finally a book that it more general but useful for anxiety, depression or stress is "Mind Over Mood - Change the Way you Feel by Changing The Way You Think" by Greenberger and Padesky This is a simple to follow book that really targets illogical and irrational thinking styles that drive depression and anxiety. It includes worksheets to follow.

Finally, its important to remember when considering a book to begin self-help that like therapy, self-help books and the exercises they direct you to do, must be practiced diligently and consistently in order to work.
About the Author
Karen Hastings is a NHS experienced mental health occupational therapist, Master NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist. Karen uses CBT, NLP and hypnotherapy in Edinburgh. visit http://www.karenhastings.co.uk
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