recommend workbooks for an older woman to fight depression and anxiety.
April 4, 2016 1:25 PM   Subscribe

I need recommendations for approachable, effective books that a 70ish woman can use as resources to help fight depression and anxiety without a therapist.

My mom has had depression all her life. It is inherited (I think it was pretty much assumed that everyone in the family was, and ought to be, sad) - as well as often situational - (they had hard lives, even if her own was not nearly as hard as the depression made her perceive it as.) Anxiety has come along in more recent years and I think has mostly replaced the depression.

Recently - and this in itself I think is a huge step - she has she come to see that both the depression and the anxiety are disordered ways of thinking, and that she would be better off if she could get away from them. I would like to get her some books to help.

(I know that in general, therapy + meds would be the way to go, but she has had poor experiences with both in the past. Meds (taken alone) haven't worked; and she has had bad experiences with therapists. Also, she is shy, and very untrusting, and what with one thing and another I just don't see therapy being a realistic option. So I was hoping there might be workbooks that could serve as a starting point. And, the good news is she really does want to get better. So that's promising, right?)

So: anyone here have books/workbooks they want to recommend for adults who want to do their own work on themselves for anxiety, intrusive thoughts, "spiralling" (I don't know if this is a technical term - I mean that THING where you just can't stop thinking about how you hate X and how terrible it is, and it interferes with getting stuff done and being happy), etc? I actually think depression is less of an issue these days, but would happily take recommendations there too, for a rainy day. Approachable/readable/interactive is a must, this is not someone who is going to be helped with a dense block of text.

English language is fine. Hebrew would be ideal.

I should note that I would like my involvement to end with the provision of the books, if that matters. Thanks!
posted by fingersandtoes to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I found The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook helpful, and it's a tried-and-true book, and thus may be available in Hebrew as well.
posted by ldthomps at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm working through Mind Over Mood myself (sorry, can't provide the link right now) and, though I am only at the start, so far it is very clear/straightforward and it deals with both depression and anxiety from a CBT perspective. It was recommended to me by my GP.
posted by Halo in reverse at 1:47 PM on April 4, 2016

The title of this book is completely off-putting, but it has made lasting changes in my life, and the approach is absolutely excellent for anxiety, trauma, self-abuse, anger, etc. I can't recommend it enough.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 2:07 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Healing Through the Dark Emotions, by Miriam Greenspan is not a workbook per se, but it's really good.
posted by dragonbaby07 at 2:10 PM on April 4, 2016

I would also recommend the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. It also describes treatment options (without insisting on any one particular thing, if I'm remembering correctly), so that might open her mind a bit to other options.
posted by lazuli at 2:11 PM on April 4, 2016

As someone who has had traumatic depression and anxiety throughout his life and been hospitalized I am going to give my two cents here and say that you CANNOT treat this type of depression and anxiety without a therapist. It's just not going to happen. You say she's had bad experiences - does this mean she's just too untrusting to enable a good experience to happen or do you think she actually had bad therapists? Finding the right therapist FOR YOU is a job and it is a critical job that requires treating therapists like consumer products - test as many as you can til you find the right one.

I personally feel that this can't be stressed enough. I do not think a book is going to help her. If possible, if you as her child could accompany her to first interactions with new therapists and ask questions for her and help her express her concerns and needs and troubles with therapy in the past, that might go a long way to letting her relax enough to find someone she can be successful with. Any therapist that is not ok with this is one you should skip right off the bat.

I would also suggest a group therapy approach that may or may not be lead by a therapist specifically focused on social anxiety and depression. You should be able to find these in your area using Google. She can go and be as shy as she needs to be for as long as she needs to be until she sees that others suffer from the same thing and learned to open up and be comfortable. This in turn may give her the confidence to start talking to other people who have lived her experience and will not judge. That alone could be a HUGE break in the weight on her shoulders.

Whatever you end up doing, I wish you luck. I learned the hard way that anxiety and depression are DISEASES that are not to be fucked with lightly.
posted by spicynuts at 2:26 PM on April 4, 2016

From Reading Well Books on Prescription (about): depression; anxiety.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:40 PM on April 4, 2016

I was going to make a suggestion for a book, but it turns out there are a number of decent, very accessible, plain-language anxiety and depression workbooks that have been put out by various health and government authorities (example [pdf]) I found that one by googling anxiety workbook pdf (no quotes); you may find something more suitable than that.

This schedule of pleasant activities (pdf) might also be useful. (I would also suggest encouraging your mom to schedule events outside of the house. "Events" meaning walks in the park, even. Visits to the museum. A beach would be great. Anything offering a change of scene and something new to see. If she's been stuck at home, circling around, between the same four walls, with the same thoughts, grooving herself into an actual rut, a physical break from all those associations might do her some good. In natural settings, especially. But even the mall (at a quieter time of the week) would be something, if she's not been out in a while. Maybe there's an association near her that does friendly visits and can facilitate this?)
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:27 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's some good information available in the CBT course from "The Great Courses" on Audible, in the UK it's best to buy a monthly membership even if you then cancel immediately, rather than buy a la carte. The professor and clinician teaching the course is exactly the sort of person I would love in my support team, solidly grounded in theory but with humanity. I ended up liking it so much I bought the DVD/ book transcript too so I could see the real examples of treatment with patients too.

After being disillusioned with Meetup first time I tried it I have had better luck this time round, granted I'm not the same demographic being 46 and male, but having anything remotely like social support has been helpful to me than any books. In my case it was only regular visits from a mental health charity support worker that gave me the confidence to try these. Good luck!
posted by AuroraSky at 9:09 PM on April 4, 2016

"...that THING where you just can't stop thinking about how you hate X..." is called perseverating.

I had some bad experiences too, and went without treatment for years. Stupid. Big, big mistake.

If you can, skip the therapist for now. Good ones are hard to find. Find a psychiatrist and get treatment.

In the meantime, the book you want is the classic, "Feeling Good" by David Burns.
posted by islandeady at 9:49 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another good one for the list: Staying Rational in an Irrational World: Albert Ellis and Rational Emotive Therapy by Michael E. Bernard is a useful introduction to a therapeutic mode that can, to quite a useful extent, be self-taught.
posted by flabdablet at 3:04 AM on April 5, 2016

Ten Days to Self Esteem (David Burns MD) sounds goofy but it was recommended to my brother by his therapist and it has done wonders for him in a short period of time. I am just getting in to it.
posted by shaarog at 9:17 AM on April 5, 2016

Some great suggestions above, but since no one has mentioned it, I'll add the Australian Centre for Clinical Interventions workbooks, which have done wonders for me -- they cover anxiety, depression, self-esteem or even simply a tendency to worry, among many other mental health issues, in separate workbooks. They're each broken down into manageable chapters with paragraphs of easy-to-read text + brainstorming questions, and typically have visual breakdowns as well.

I've preferred these over other self-helpy resources because they're so concise and practical; they give only what you *need* to know in order to tackle the exercises.
posted by youhavedeadedme at 5:33 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

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