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  • Writer's pictureDominic Schmuck, Ph.D.

The Best Self Help Books for Anxiety, Depression, and Perfectionism

Updated: 1 day ago

Have you ever struggled to find a self-help book that actually delivers on its promises? With so many books vying for your attention, claiming they can solve all your problems if only you read them, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. You might pick up a new book hoping to conquer anxiety, only to find it lacking in practical help. Many authors writing self-help books in the mental health field aren't experts; they're just ordinary individuals pretending to have all the answers about anxiety, depression, or perfectionism.

To guide you towards books authored by actual professionals with extensive clinical and research-based experience, I've created a list of the 5 best self-help books for anxiety, depression, and perfectionism. Every book on my list is authored by individuals who've undergone rigorous training and education, integrating evidence-based and scientific principles that have significantly benefited numerous people grappling with mental health challenges.

As a psychologist myself, with published and presented scientific articles, and my private clinical practice, I must acknowledge my bias towards the books on my list. They align closely with my therapeutic approach. Some authors featured here have also contributed to books and research articles aimed at clinicians, which I've studied while incorporating therapeutic theories into my practice. Each book I recommend is one I've personally suggested to my clients, friends, or family. Take a look below to see my list, presented in no particular order.

Reading self help book

1. The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living

The happiness trap book cover

Such a fantastic book! Written by Dr. Russ Harris, one of the leading experts of Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT). "The Happiness Trap" addresses not only anxiety, depression, and perfectionism, but also many more issues. You will learn techniques and practical tools to apply in your everyday life.

Best for: Anyone looking for a book comprehensively addressing your mental well-being. You will learn new ways of thinking and seeing the world, and you will improve your self-compassion and ability to create a meaningful life.

2. The Anxious Perfectionist

The anxious perfectionist book cover

As I'm a psychologist residing in Utah, I'm excited to recommend "The Anxious Perfectionist." Authored by Dr. Clarissa W. Ong and Dr. Michael Twohig. Dr. Ong, trained at Utah State University (USU) and Harvard Medical School, while Dr. Twohig is as a faculty member at USU. "The Anxious Perfectionist" offers strategies to distance yourself from self-criticism, negative self-talk, and unhelpful perfectionism.

Best for: Individuals grappling with anxiety, perfectionism, and the negative impact of unrealistic expectations on their lives. This book guides you to align with your values instead.

3. Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks

Retrain your brain book cover

Authored by Dr. Seth Gillihan, who is a former faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and now runs his own private practice and hosts the "Think Act Be" podcast. "Retrain Your Brain" is a workbook designed to first introduce you to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and then guide you through numerous brain-retraining exercises to improve your well-being.

Best for: Those seeking a practical workbook to address anxiety and depression, with strategies that are also effective for managing perfectionism.

4. The ACT Workbook for Perfectionism

ACT workbook for perfectionism book cover

Written by Dr. Jenniger Kemp who operates her own private practice and has authored multiple books. "The ACT Workbook for Perfectionism" is rooted in the science of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Dr. Kemp specializes in assisting individuals grappling with perfectionism, OCD, and eating disorders, making this workbook a valuable resource filled with practical exercises.

Best for: Those dealing with perfectionism who value an approach centered on self-compassion and acceptance of life's challenges.

5. The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression

The cognitive behavioral workbook for depression book cover

Dr. William Knaus, a licensed psychologist and prominent practitioner of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), authored this book. The foreword was written by Dr. Albert Ellis, a pioneer in CBT, is a significant testament to the book's credibility and trustworthiness, in my opinion.

Best for: Those seeking to address depression by challenging their current thought patterns and beliefs. This book offers strategies to enact meaningful changes in life, reducing susceptibility to depressive episodes.

I Need More Than a Self Help Book, What Do I Do?

If you've explored self-help books or other resources for managing anxiety, depression, and perfectionism and are seeking more personalized support, consider reaching out to a therapist.

As the owner of TruU Psychology (pronounced True You Psychology) and someone who can work with clients in over 40 PSYPACT participating states, I have extensive experience helping individuals navigate these challenges. My specialties include working with anxiety & depression, driven professionals, addressing relationship trauma, assisting with religious trauma & faith crises, and supporting individuals through life transitions.

Feel free to explore my website to learn more about me and my therapeutic approach. You can also explore my services and fees.

Contact me by calling/texting (385) 200-0204 or emailing You can also schedule a free 15-minute consult here to see if you would like to work with me. If no timeslot appears through the link, then I likely have a waitlist. Call/text/email instead.


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