There so many books on panic, anxiety, and social anxiety. Where do you start? Below is a list of my top recommendations for books to help you understand these problems and to start working on them today.
The Panic Attacks Workbook
The Panic Attacks Workbook by David Carbonell. This fantastic self-help resource is a down to earth but comprehensive guide for treating panic in a variety of situations, from panic disorder to social anxiety. It provides clear discussions and straightforward recommendations for how to cope with panic no matter what the cause. It is my top recommendation for a panic self-help book.
Don’t Panic is a solidly research book about the causes of panic and its many manifestations. Although the first half the book goes into too many case examples of panic and how terrible it is, the second part provides sound advice about how to accept your panic and let go of the urge to control everything.
The Anxieties & Phobia Workbook
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook is the go-to reference guide for anyone ready to start working on their anxieties, panic and otherwise. It is a comprehensive collection of short (1-to-5 page descriptions) of various techniques to deal with all kinds of anxiety problems. If you want a quick and dirty list of techniques this is the guide for you. If you want deep insights into panic, this is not the right book.
Hope and Help for Your Nerves
Hope and Help for Your Nerves is a classic self-help book written in the 1960s. It has been praised as a landmark of self-help and it delves into the causes of anxiety and provides compassionate suggestions to deal with it. I have to admit that I haven’t read it but have heard positive things about it and so I put it on this list leaving it up to you to decide if it lives up to its reputation.
Full Catastrophe Living
Full catastrophe Living is Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book length description of his mindfulness based stress-reduction program, which has been used to treat everything from depression and chronic pain to generalized anxiety disorder. The book teaches you how to practice mindfulness through the techniques of Dr. Kabat Zinn’s program and the philosophy behind the ideas. It is easy to read, interesting, but lengthy. If you’re looking for panic specific advice, this isn’t the right book for you but if you have patience and want to learn to live life differently, that is, mindfully (and this will help your panic), this is a must read.
My Age of Anxiety
My Age of Anxiety is Scott Stossel’s autobiographic exploration anxiety, panic, and phobias. Using himself as a test subject, he poignantly, candidly, and humorously puts his own pathologies under the spotlight of research, while reflecting on what it means to be a terribly anxious human just trying to make it the modern world. You won’t get self-help advice here but you’ll feel in much better company after reading this engaging account of anxiety.
In the Spotlight
In the Spotlight was written by Janet Esposito, a mental health professionals who suffered with social anxiety for years. This book is an encouraging and practical guide to coping with social anxiety. Whether you have social anxiety with panic attacks or not, you’ll find comfort and straightforward steps to start on the path to recovery.
Worry, by Edward Hallowell, is a broad topic not about any one anxiety disorder but about the pernicious problem that under most anxiety problems. One of my favorite insights from this book is “If you don’t want to worry, be a vegetable,” which Hallowell explains as the evolutionary fact that animals need fear but plants don’t. You’ll find scientific explanations but at a non-experts level as well as some advice. The book is far more insight than technique driven, so it’s not the right book for someone looking for dozens of new anxiety management strategies. However, insight is a key to resolving anxiety and that’s why I recommend it.
The Shyness and Social Anxiety Worbook
The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook is the self-help version of cognitive behaviors therapy for social anxiety. Written by top researchers in social anxiety, it provides explanations as well detailed steps to overcome panic. Some of the steps are not easy, such as going to social situations you avoid and drawing attention to yourself. However, if you have the guts and dedication to follow the advice, it will help.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff was one of the most popular self-help books in the 1990s. I know that some people will dismiss this recommendation as trivial self-help but the advice in here is timeless. Sure, the writing is inelegant at times but that’s part of the charm of this resource. If you like short nuggets of wisdom, this book is broken into one hundred chapters one to three pages in length.
Photo by Wiertz Sébastien