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Anxiety can be a total normal reaction to certain social situations or moments in your life that are overwhelming. But when your feelings of anxiety persist over a long period of time, you might have an anxiety disorder. Long-term anxiety can lead to a multitude of health problems, including panic attacks, disrupted sleep, digestive issues, weight gain or loss, depression, and more.
As someone who lives with generalized anxiety disorder, I have experienced these things firsthand. And if you’re going through this too, I want you to know you’re not alone. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the United States, affecting 40 million Americans 18 or older. That’s 18.1% of the U.S. population. And yet, while anxiety disorders are treatable, only about 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
Seeking professional help is an important step in coping with your mental health concerns. But that step in and of itself can cause someone with anxiety even more anxiety. Again, it can be helpful to remind yourself you’re not alone, and books about anxiety can help remind you of that. Memoirs can give you advice and comfort through personal stories. Nonfiction books can also help you come up with coping techniques to quell your anxiety. And novels featuring characters dealing with anxiety can actually help remind you you’re not alone as well. Here are 12 books to help you with anxiety.
Nonfiction Books to Help With Anxiety
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson is bestselling author, entrepreneur, and problem solver, and she’s also suffered from anxiety her whole life. In First, We Make the Beast Beautiful, Wilson pulls from her own experiences and interviews from fellow sufferers, mental health experts, philosophers, and even the Dalai Lama to examine anxiety and its treatments. This book’s goal is to help those with anxiety feel encouraged and empowered.
My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
My Age of Anxiety is another helpful book in which the author uses their own experiences with anxiety to help offer advice and support. This book looks at the author’s personal history with anxiety and the history of anxiety diagnoses and treatments. Stossel also discusses the environmental, cultural, and biological factors that contribute to anxiety. Overall, this book is a funny and inspirational book that will help you understand your anxiety.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
If you’re looking for humorous anecdotes about anxiety to help you feel better about your own mental health condition, look no further than Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy. In these funny and heartbreakingly honest essays, Lawson shares her personal struggles with mental health and anxiety. There will be moments in these stories with which you will likely identify. And there will be plenty of moments that will make you laugh out loud.
I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi
I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying is a memoir-in-essays from Nigerian American author Bassey Ikpi in which the author reflects on her personal experiences navigating Bipolar II and anxiety throughout her life. Ikpi starts with her childhood, moving from Nigeria to Stillwater, Oklahoma and living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder and anxiety. The essays move through her adulthood, up to her life now as an advocate for mental health.
On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen is a science and health reporter, and she was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of twenty. Later, she realized she’d been experiencing panic attacks since childhood. Finally having a name for her experiences was a relief, but understanding and mastering her anxiety took time. This is Petersen’s personal story of working through her anxiety with yoga retreats, psychiatrists’ offices, and more. And throughout Petersen’s personal story, the author includes groundbreaking research that suggests new treatments for anxiety.
Good Anxiety by Wendy Suzuki
We’re living in a world that is filled with anxiety and anxious people, but according to Dr. Wendy Suzuki, anxiety doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. In this book, the professor of neural science and psychology asks, what if we could leverage our anxiety to help us solve problems and fortify our wellbeing? And what if we could recognize anxiety for the unique gift that it is? This book wants to change the way you understand anxiety and how you can use it to change your life for the better.
Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me by Charlamagne Tha God
You might know Charlamagne Tha God as a radio talk show host and television personality. But you might not realize he has also dealt with anxiety his whole life. From childhood, Charlamagne worried about his shortcomings, and even after having a successful career, he worried about not being good enough to take it to the next level. In this book, the author shares his own journey with anxiety and how he was able to overcome his fears and find success.
Moving Beyond Anxiety by David Chadwick
If you are a Christian and are struggling with anxiety, David Chadwick’s Moving Beyond Anxiety can be a huge help for you. In this book, author David Chadwick shares 12 ways to overcome anxiety — all of which come straight from Scripture. Chadwick’s steps for overcoming anxiety include focusing on faith, praying, caring for your health, remembering God’s promises, finding good teammates, developing an eternal perspective. Religion cannot fully replace the help of mental health professionals. But if you are religious, this book helps you see how your faith can help.
Fiction Books to Help With Anxiety
White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson
White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson is a YA horror novel featuring a main character — Marigold — who is still learning how to manage her anxiety and OCD. This book is a compelling and thrilling story, with many twists and turns that will keep readers engaged. And it’s also a pretty accurate representation of how anxiety can leave you feeling helpless, especially when it seems like the people you care about the most don’t understand.
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
In Akwaeke Emezi’s memoir Dear Senthurian, the author discusses their own struggles with anxiety and depression. Their debut novel Freshwater also features a semi-autobiographical character named Ada who deals with anxiety and other mental health issues. Ada is a Nigerian young woman who was born with one foot in the spiritual realm, and to cope with her anxiety and PTSD, she develops separate versions of herself as a means of protection and understanding her own trauma.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Turtles All the Way Down is the story of Aza Holmes, who deals with anxiety and intrusive thoughts. Aza’s story is an unflinching look at how difficult feelings of anxiety can be to manage. But this story can also be a helpful reminder to readers dealing with anxiety that they’re not alone, that other people have the same feelings and fears. Aza’s story is based in part on author John Green’s own struggles with severe anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. In an interview with The New York Times, Green said there have been points in his life where “I couldn’t escape the spiral of my thoughts, and I felt like they were coming from the outside…Coming out of that, it was difficult to write about anything else [with Turtles All the Way Down].”
Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis
Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is based on author Dana L. Davis’s real-life struggle with anxiety disorder. The book is an exploration of grief and anxiety told through the story of Tiffany, a 16-year-old girl who goes to live with a biological father she’s never known after her mother dies of cancer. Tiffany has difficulty fitting in to her new environment and figuring out what family means to her, especially as she copes with grief, anxiety, and OCD.
If you want more suggestions for books about anxiety, here are some suggestions for YA books about social anxiety and 10 picture books about anxiety for children who worry. And last but not least, these are comics for people with anxiety. And I know I’ve said this multiple times already, but it’s so important to just remember you’re not alone, even if your anxiety makes you feel that way.