General Psychology

Understanding Depression

Breaking the Patterns of Depression
by Michael Yapko
This well-researched book provides the reader with both an understanding of the scientifically proven cognitive underpinnings of depression and the most comprehensive list of self-help exercises I know of. This book is an essential reference for anyone battling depression and shopping for a competent therapist to help in that battle.

The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth
by Irving Kirsch
The author is a both a research psychologist and practicing clinician who conducted massive meta-analyses on all the published and unpublished studies of antidepressant medication. His results and his ability to explain the complexities of the science behind the approval of these medications makes this a must read for anyone who is battling depression and weighing treatment options with an eye to becoming a truly informed consumer.  You might like to read what Sharon Begley, science editor for Newsweek Magazine has to say about it by clicking here.

Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche
by Ethan Watters
We like to believe that mental illness is just like any other disease—diabetes, heart disease, you name it, but it just ain’t so. Unlike disease entities that can be measured by blood draws and counted under microscopes, emotional difficulties are part and parcel of the social and cultural frame we live in.  Without reference to the social and cultural context in which they occur,  psychiatric diagnoses are meaningless.  The Americanization of Mental Illness is the shorter, article version that appeared in a New York Times last year.

Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease
by Gary Greenberg
Author Gary Greenberg, is both a science writer and a psychologist. In this book, he chronicles the history of the diagnosis of depression as it has evolved over the past century.  This book is essential background reading for anyone wanting to be a truly informed consumer of psychiatric services.


Mindful Living and Sleeping Well

The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Depression: Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy to Move Through Depression & Create a Life Worth Living by Kirk D. Strosahl and Patricia J. Robinson
This is an excellent resource for anyone struggling with depression and a very practical guide to mindfulness.  It comes with an audio CD with several mindfulness exercises that can be helpful for a beginner.  Just remember that the whole point of mindfulness is to get to where you can do it on your own, without the external audio guidance.

Mindful Motherhood by Cassandra Vieten
The author gives practical, step by step instructions for using the catch as catch can moments of mothering to be fully present during this hectic, transformative time of life.

Five Good Minutes With the One You Love by Jeffrey Brantley and Wendy Millstine
Mindfulness is not esoteric nor is it difficult. It is not the exclusive province of any religious traditions. Mindfulness is simply about being present and accounted for with a calm mind. In the Five Good Minutes series of books, Brantly and Millstine provide 100 simple and practical ideas of weaving mindfulness into your hectic life.

The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘doing it all’ gets nothing done by Dave Crenshaw
So, if multitasking is a myth, what then shall we do to meet all our modern day demands? Author and psychologist Dave Crenshaw explains.

The Insomnia Workbook by Stephanie Silberman and Charles Morin

The number one risk factor for depression and the number one cause of relapse for those who have been depressed at some time in their life is sleep deprivation. This workbook can help develop practical habits for sleeping well—the best protection you can have against depression and relapse.

Body Image

The Body Image Workbook: An 8-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks by Thomas Cash
Before changing our bodies, or even while trying to make healthy changes, it’s important to learn to love the body we have.  And Dr. Cash helps to do just that.  So whether you’re working to lose weight, gain weight,  recover from body altering medical issues or just become happier with the body you’re in, this workbook can be life-changing.

The Benefits of Positive Emotions

Positivity by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson will absolutely blow your mind.  Dr. Fredrickson’s lab is right here in Chapel Hill at UNC.  Her state of the art research demonstrates unequivocally why it is important that therapy not be limited to exploring the origins of negative emotions but also simultaneously work to increase positive emotions.  Her research supports my “second rule of life” which is that “whatever you focus on grows” and therapy that focuses on negative emotions is necessarily unbalanced.

Neuroplasticity

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. will convince you that change is possible.  The good news is that even stroke victims and those who have experienced structural changes to the brain can rewire their brain to regain significant function.  The bad news is that your habits of thought  literally shape your brain.  All the more reason to stop that “stink’n think’n” and start using your mind and your imagination to change your brain for good.  And the really, really, good news is that talk therapy does just that–literally.