Reading Can Fight Anxiety And Depression

Reading can fight anxiety and depression

Reading can help you understand your mood and improve your behavior because you can somehow find yourself in the pages of that book or poem.

As you read, your brain is able to experience and empathize with the words, helping you identify and express the processes going on inside you. This fact has been known since the Classical period.


It is interesting to realize that Aristotle was aware of this centuries ago when he invited us to think honestly and authentically about what people call the gift of the written word. In 1904, this was exactly what Kafka did in his letter to Oskar Pollak:

“If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a slap on the head, then why are we reading it? So that it makes us happy, as you write? Good God, we would be happy if we didn’t have books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But the books we need hit us like a disaster, make us deeply saddened, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished to the woods far away from everyone else, like suicide. A book should be like an ax splitting the ice of our consciousness.”


Literature, the ‘paper medicine’

Literature allows us to heal faster because it allows us to normalize and validate our feelings, as well as reason properly, in a healthy way.

Releasing pain through reading is a therapeutic blessing that is incredibly helpful in the process of improvement and emotional healing, in part because it teaches us and helps us understand what is happening to us.

In other words, it provides us with the tools we need to find clarity when we are completely stuck mentally. With this in mind, The Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians put together a list of the best novels and poetry helpful in combating anxiety and depression.


Here are some examples of that list, ranging from The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, to A Little History of the World by Ernst H. Gombrich, with other humorous works in between, such as the works of author Bill Bryson.

  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. The curiosity and desire for adventure in this novel foster exploration and the urge to achieve something different in this life.
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. No matter what stage you are in in your life, this book will always be able to teach you something about love, friendship and the inner life of man.
  • Body Book by Daniel Pennac. This novel is about pain, fear, death, disease and many other kinds of suffering with which we can identify.
  • The World of Sophie by Jostein Gaarder. This beautiful book encourages you to keep going and to become interested in the many aspects of your inner life.
  • Lives Other Than Mine by Emmanuel Carrère. This book tells stories about different people that help us understand the different realities of the people around us, based on the fact that everyone has their own story that needs to be heard.
  • The Meaning of Life by Viktor Frankl. A classic that will help you think deeply about your life and the difficulties you face.
  • Resilience by Boris Cyrulnik. Just because you have a hard life doesn’t mean you should just let yourself collapse; you can always move forward. This is the lesson this book teaches us, and this is the principle of human resilience.
  • Life, a manual. Confessions from the Divan by Stephen Grosz. This book contains thirty stories about Grosz’s clients who overcame their problems.
  • The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns. This book discusses a non-pharmacological treatment for depression.
  • A Short History of the World by Ernst H. Gombrich. An authentic reflection on the course of history and our overlapping lives.
  • Don’t Give Up (No te rindas) by Mario Benedetti. This poem promotes emotional strength, which we all need to find in times of helplessness.

Literature can thus be extremely transformative. Why? Because by reading we can come to grips with the internal chaos that reigns within us during difficult times and traumatic events.

For all these reasons, I recommend that you keep the information in this article in mind because, in time, a good book will help you recognize, soothe, and heal the emotional pain that stings like icy water.



The Reading Agency; Society of Chief Librarians (2015). Reading Well Books on Prescription: Evaluation 2014-15. October 2015. 36 p. Available at:

Baikie, K., & Wilhelm, K. (August 11, 2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing . Obtained from BJPsych Advances.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button