15 Books That Have Helped People Through Anxiety

When you live with anxiety, sometimes getting through the day is difficult. When you’re fighting racing thoughts and intense physical symptoms due to anxiety, it’s easy to feel anything but calm. To make matters worse, oftentimes it can be hard to find others who truly understand what you’re going through.

It’s at times like these when books can lend a much-needed hand.

Sometimes a specific book can make you feel less alone or provides a temporary “vacation” from the thoughts you struggle to silence. Other times, books can put words to long-felt feelings we have been unable to explain. No matter what your reason for reading, books can be useful tools for coping with anxiety, so we asked members of our mental health community to share a book they’d recommend to someone struggling with anxiety.


Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson

“The author has several diagnosed mental illnesses, one of which is anxiety. Somehow she has managed to deal with her anxiety in a very humorous way and has passed her knowledge on to her readers. Most self-help books that we read are serious in nature. This book is like a breath of fresh air. By the time I was finished I felt like I was pretty ‘normal’ after all.” — Anne Z.

2. “The Monster at the End of This Book” by Jon Stone

It’s about Grover from Sesame Street agonizing over the reader turning pages, getting closer to the monster, which is (spoiler) only him. It’s a kid’s Golden Book, but I rediscovered it as an adult and realized how accurately this short read depicts the ridiculousness of worrying. It illustrates anxiety from a humorous and childlike standpoint.” — Misty S.

3. “My Age of Anxiety” by Scott Stossel

“[It] is an informal but very informative book detailing not only the history of anxiety but also the author’s personal journey with it.” — Christina M.

4. “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Mayers

“A religious choice. It was gifted to me by a very good friend who wanted to help me through my struggles. Seven years later, the message is still strong and helps me cope with the more difficult days.” — Jana S.

5. “Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

“Charlie has lots of diagnoses but he definitely has anxiety. He is always trying to please people without first looking after himself. We see him have some panic attacks and [the] movie is perfect in so many ways.” — Zoe S.

6. “50 Shades of Grey” by E L James

“Not for the sexually explicit scenes, but for the nightmares the characters live through. The inner hauntings of their emotions. The author dwells deep into the inner thoughts and trifling emotions of the characters. It’s dark yet deep, it brings you in and makes you feel what they are feeling. Sure there’s a dark side of sex, but it’s mostly about the darkness of the characters and the reasoning behind it all down to their inner conflicts and how they find justice or come to [a] resolution for the sake of others.” — Kristina C.

7. “Reasons to Stay Alive” by Matt Haig

“Amazing book. Matt Haig explains what’s it’s like to live with life [debilitating] anxiety and depression. He tells his story and paints a beautiful picture as to why life is worth living. He talks about his coping mechanism and just how life inhibiting his anxiety was/is and how he manages it. I could relate a lot and found myself in tears at how he describes anxiety. He doesn’t try to paint a self-help book picture of ‘it gets better.’ He talks about how he didn’t believe it’d get better, and how he had to take [it] a day at a time until he found happiness. If you struggle with mental health, this read is a must.” — Hannah S.

8. “The Rest of Us Just Live Here” by Patrick Ness

“Picked it up randomly one day, and the main character has OCD and tons of anxiety about life. It’s not what I expected, but it ended up letting me connect with the character way more because of it.” — Allie M.

9. “Where Am I Now?” by Mara Wilson

Her experiences resonated so profoundly with me that I cried.” — Lily F.

10. “From Panic to Power” by Lucinda Bassett

It’s got a lot of real life scenarios that make you feel not so alone and a little more understood.” — Chelsea H.

11. “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer

“This book helped me to come to peace with the constant inner dialogue that runs through my head and clutters my thoughts. My anxiety is created when I lock onto these thoughts rather than let them pass. I can obsess over the smallest, trivial issues.” — Jayma P.

12. “Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book” by Jomny Sun

“I found it one day in Barnes and Noble thought it might be a kids book, but then it wasn’t. It had so much meaning in it. It told me I wasn’t alone and it was OK to be different or feel isolated.” — Stephanie A.

13. “Uninvited” by Lysa TerKeurst

“It’s a very realistic faith-based book that channels the feeling of loneliness and rejection that anxiety can often trigger.” — Sherlie A.

14. “You’ll Get Through This” by Max Lucado

“This book offered me hope on my worst days and I recommend it completely.” — Catie L.

15. “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson

“It requires enough thought and is so fascinating that it pulls me enough away from whatever triggered my anxiety that I’m not focused on the issue anymore. I calm down within a chapter usually.” — Frank C.

What would you add?

Thinkstock photo via marzacz.

15 Books That Have Helped People Through Anxiety

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