When you’re in the depths of depression:
- you have no energy;
- you can’t concentrate;
- you don’t feel like you can do anything, or that anything is worth doing;
- any activity is draining and derives you no pleasure;
- you just want to stop feeling this bad.
Even mustering up the energy to take action to tackle your illness is difficult.
So, for many, the very thought of reading a book – and the energy and concentration that requires – just seems alien and pointless. I mean, you can’t even get out of bed, so why on earth would you want to muster up what little energy you have to stare at ink on a page (or pixels on a tablet?)
I know that uninspired feeling from personal experience. Normally an avid reader, my collection of books simply gathered dust during the worst of my five-year depressive episode.
What makes it worse is that you don’t even know which self-help books to use – there are so many, where do you start?
What you need is encouragement that self-help can be an effective part of overcoming your depression. Well, this blog post is here to do just that! We’ll not only give you the good news that reading the right books does make a difference, we’ll point you in the right direction to get started.
Medical proof that self-help books are a powerful tool in the fight against depression
The results of a recent clinical study show that not only is reading a good idea, it actually helps treat depression – very effectively too!
The study – conducted in Scotland – aimed to assess the impact on mood of guided self-help cognitive behavioural therapy (GSH-CBT) through patient use of a guided self-help book, augmented by 3-4 face-to-face appointments of up to 2 hours each, compared to the ‘usual treatment’ by a GP (including anti-depressant medication).
Before the trial, the study took patients receiving medical intervention from general practitioners across Glasgow who self-reported a score of 14 or greater – so a minimum self-report of “mild depression” – on the commonly-used Beck Depression Index (BDI). After 4 and 12 months, the study measured the subsequent BDI scores reported by the patients.
Encouragingly, after 4 and 12 months:
- those in the group using the self-help book and guided sessions had lower Beck Depression (BDI) scores – by 5.3 points – than those who simply had ‘treatment as usual’:
- there was also a higher proportion of people amongst those who used the self-help book who reported a 50% reduction in their BDI score for the GSH-CBT section of the BDI;
- there was evidence of significantly less deteriorantion in mood amongst those who used the self-help book (2% compared to 9.8% for those who had ‘treatment as usual’); and
- those who used the self-help book reported a marked improvement in mental health literacy.
Whilst the study didn’t measure the effectiveness of GSH-CBT as a replacement for anti-depressants, and there are other factors to be tested, the study’s findings are still very clear and encouraging.
What does this mean for you?
The bottom line is that self-help books for overcoming depression, used properly, can work well as part of a depression treatment strategy.
Does this mean you should run to your bookstore and stock up on self-help books, including the one used in the study?
Not quite yet. A few things you need to be aware of:
- The study focused on guided self-help books. But this doesn’t mean that the guidance needs to be from someone clinically qualified – indeed, the study itself acknowledges this. A guide can help motivate you and ensure that a routine is followed, as well as encouraging you and checking your progress – they can be an important source of support.
- One of the authors of the study wrote the self-help book that was used. This doesn’t mean you must use the exact same self-help book to get solid results.
- In this study, only a minimal amount of guided support was involved, yet the improvements reported in mood were remarkable. So you don’t necessarily need to embark on a long and often expensive course of GSH-CBT or retain a guidance work in order to effectively self-help yourself in treating depression.
- The guide doesn’t need to be a live human being. It could be an audio CD or DVD that accompanies the book with audio or video that follows the book and guides you in taking action.
What if the guide was at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at the push of a button? Ready with gentle support, encouragement, personal empathy yet motivation to get you taking small and easy steps that lead to big results?
What should you look for in a self-help book? A few things stand out:
- pragmatic advice and real action you can take immediately;
- tools to check and monitor your progress;
- treatment strategies proven to be effective;
- impartial, unbiased information on finding the right expert help;
- trusted, hand-picked resources that help you or your loved one whatever the stage of depression.
Beating Depression, is my newest product that combines all the elements this latest clinical survey shows to be effective in helping treat depression. Beating Depression is accompanied with full audio guidance on-demand, practical and proven self-help strategies and is structured to have you or your loved one identifying your needs and taking action immediately. With Beating Depression, you will finally get the holistic help you need to beat the Black Dog.