6 Great Books to Read If You Have Anxiety

If you’re here, you’re probably prone to anxiety, and hunting online for people who’ve lived through experiences like yours. Those with generalized anxiety disorder (or other forms of anxiety disorder) know how exhausting it can be, and even physically painful. Anxiety can also cloud your judgment, making it hard to trust people close to you — even yourself. And for the people close to you who don’t have anxiety, understanding those anxious feelings and reactions can be frustrating.

Anxiety is also frequently dismissed as “just stress,” something everyone experiences from time to time. Conversely, some medical professionals can be quick to attribute too much to anxiety when a patient admits to having it. There’s no doubt that having anxiety can be a challenging, painful, and isolating experience, but if there’s any good news to be taken from the decades-long increase in reported anxiety and depression, it’s that there is more and more good writing being published on the subject. Here are six books that you (or an anxious person you know) might find illuminating, insightful, and even life-changing.

For a well-told history: My Age of Anxiety, by Scott Stossel

In a tone both educational and deeply personal, Stossel takes readers back through decades of anxiety research and the numerous scientific and medical interventions considered “treatments” over time. Though he’s compassionate toward anxiety sufferers (especially being one himself), he also manages to make anxiety (or at least some of the popular thinking around it) funny. Though reviewers say the book’s historical research is “exhaustive,” they’re also nearly unanimous in their praise of its humanity and relatability. If you want a better understanding of your anxiety disorder, or are curious to learn more about how our culture understands and treats it, this is a must-read.