I was recently asked for some pretty basic advice from a friend who thinks her bf is dealing with anxiety, possibly GAD, and needs a plan of attack. In formulating my answer for her, I realized that I didn't have a recommended reading list readily available to share here, so I wanted to create that now. This is in order that I would tackle it if I were just getting a basic lay of the land.
#1: The Best Lay of the Land Book
I'm not a huge fan of the title, since I think the word worry is a big turn-off and confusing for a lot of overthinkers. But overlook that, cause this really is the book to start with. It lays a great foundation, especially for people who are just starting to get their head around the whole "I have anxiety" thing.
#2: The Best "Get me out of this Repeating Cycle Now" Book
McDonagh is an Irish psychologist who suffered from years of panic attacks and anxiety. He's figured out an approach that works through his own experience and trial and error. He's helped hundreds of people, and I know in my gut that he's on to something.
Anxiety is not something to be avoided or treated like an illness. It can make us feel like shit, but it's only through lived physical experience and acclimatization that we can improve our responses to the world around us.
#3: The Best Book with Worksheets in It
This was one of 2 books my neurologist initially handed me when she told me she thought I had GAD. In essence, it's a basic primer for CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy.
The worksheets are a crucial part of CBT and are incredibly helpful for those of us who are dealing with cognitive distortions like catastrophizing or black-and-white thinking.
#4 The Best Book If You Also Have Physical Pain
The Mindbody Prescription by John Sarno (the famous back guy)
This book lays it all out: an M.D. shares years of experience to try to convince people that our bodies and emotions are truly connected.
It's the other book my neurologist first handed me that fateful appointment.
#5 The Best Retro Book That Is Still Relevant
I first heard about this through podcaster/productivity/former Ohioan Merlin Mann . Mann credits this book with opening his eyes, which I think is a good reminder than different books will speak to different people. This is another book about CBT and it's well-written, with tons of specific examples. It says depression but don't let that trip you up, CBT holds for anx too.
#6 The Book I Haven't Read But I've Heard Great Things About
"In the fall and winter of 2013-14 I had awful anxiety and panic attacks. This book really helped me. It runs through some mindfulness techniques and how to talk to others about your anxiety and how to overcome and deal with your anxieties. It was amazing." - Eva K, Minnesotan in San Francisco working in the philanthropy sector.
Would love to share what's worked with you with others.
Originally published August 9, 2016. Updated April 7, 2017.