April 11, 2024

Audio & Video Learning Bibliotherapy for Depression & Anxiety

In this blog post, I’m going to talk about the potential benefits of audio & video learning as a therapy for dealing with depression & anxiety. Having experienced several episodes of major depression & anxiety in my lifetime, I wanted to share this method of coping with depression that has been very helpful to me since it ties in with our site LearnOutLoud.com. If you’ve heard of the psychotherapy term bibliotherapy or book therapy, then audio & video learning therapy is basically the same thing. It just combines listening to self-help audio books with listening to other sorts of audio programs, podcasts, and videos on the topic of depression & anxiety. I’ll be highlighting many of the very best audio books, podcasts, and videos I’ve listened to that deal with topics of depression & anxiety in this blog post.

There are unlimited methods for dealing with depression & anxiety: medication, talking therapy, exercise, meditation, diet & supplements, etc. The list goes on and on. Bibliotherapy has been shown to be one effective method in treating depression & anxiety, and it basically is the therapy of reading self-help books and books that deal with depression and anxiety. One of the great benefits of this type of therapy is that it is very affordable and can be implemented immediately. One challenge that I have with bibliotherapy when I’ve been in a depression or feel an episode of depression coming on is that I find it very hard to sit in a chair and read a book. I’ve found that listening to audio books or podcasts or videos while I’m walking outside or working out at the gym or driving to be much easier at these times than sitting down and reading a book.

While listening to audio books or talks about depression and anxiety might sound depressing, I’ve found it to be quite supportive in helping to learn about what I’m experiencing and to gain perspective on the situation. If you’ve experienced one or more episodes of clinical depression, you really owe it to yourself to become an expert on depression (especially your own). And by learning about it, you’ll know that you’re very much not alone (approximately 20 million Americans will experience depression this year), and you’ll learn more about how your depression is similar or different to others who experience the disorder. When I’m in an episode of depression, I find I can hardly focus on anything else, so I might as well learn as much as I can about depression and anxiety! Depression usually gets better with time, and an audio & video learning method of bibliotherapy can help to cope with the slow and painful passage of time in depression. As I’ve grown older (I’m in my 40s now), I’ve become fairly skilled at preventing depressive episodes, coping with my depression, and making depressive episodes last as short as I possibly can. Combining bibliotherapy with audio & video learning has been one tool in my toolbox for helping to manage this complex mood disorder.

Over the course of my adult years I’ve listened to dozens of audio books on depression & anxiety and hundreds of talks whether they’re videos, podcasts, or audio programs of recorded talks. As with all self help audio books, podcasts, and videos, some of them were very helpful and some were mostly garbage. I’ll highlight some of the best of these titles that I’ve listened to over the course of my lifetime, starting with audio books. Not all of these are necessarily considered self help, but I generally consider all books on the topic of depression & anxiety to be self help, if they are helping you to learn more about the disorder.

Best Audio Books on Depression & Anxiety:

1. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (Abridged) and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (Unabridged) by Andrew Solomon – One of the most comprehensive books on depression ever written is Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon. I’ve listened to both the abridged version, which is narrated by Andrew Solomon, and the unabridged version. The unabridged version is 22 hours long, so if that is too daunting, maybe start with the 6-hour abridged version. The book won the 2001 National Book Award and covers depression from many cultural, scientific, and historical angles. But most importantly, it covers Andrew Solomon’s own intimate struggles with his severe major depressive episodes. Solomon is a great writer and he’s able to articulate the experience of depression in ways that few other writers have. For the book, he interviewed countless individuals on their struggles with depression, and you’ll come away with a great many insights into the experience of the disorder.

2. Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You by Dr. Richard O’Connor – I’ve listened to this audio book multiple times and return to it frequently. This self help book on depression is written by Dr. Richard O’Connor who is a practicing psychotherapist. Dr. O’Connor is a suicide survivor (his mother committed suicide when he was 15) along with a sufferer of depression himself, and he knows depression from the inside out. This book is a guide to depression and ways to treat it. It also focuses a lot on the many ways to prevent episodes of depression, which is as important, if not more so, than learning ways to treat yourself while in depression. First published in 1997, it has a new 2021 audio book version that is revised and updated for life in the 21st century.

3. Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron – The great American writer William Styron (he wrote Sophie’s Choice published in 1979) suffered a major bout of depression when he was 60 years old in 1985. After recovering, he wrote this short memoir of his descent into depression, which was published in 1990. This audio book is narrated by William Styron himself, and in two short hours Styron vividly portrays the experience of a major depressive episode. It’s a must-listen for anyone who has experienced depression and is highly recommended for everyone to listen to for a greater understanding of what clinical depression is.

4. The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs by Dr. Stephen S. Ilardi – Very bold to call your book The Depression Cure. I like it! This audio book has some good alternatives to medication that Dr. Ilardi prescribes, which he calls Therapeutic Lifestyle Change. Drawing from research that modern-day hunter-gatherer groups have almost no incidence of depression, Dr. Ilardi compared their lifestyle to our modern-day lifestyle and came up with some major differences that have led to today’s epidemic of depression. He guides us through his program, which involves goal-oriented exercise, fish oil supplementation, plenty of natural sunlight, ample sleep, social connections, and participation in meaningful tasks that leave little time for negative thoughts. He may oversimplify things in his “cure,” and his suggestions might work more for people with milder depressive episodes, but it’s good advice. If you want to watch a 1 Hr. 45 Min. talk he gave on the audio book you can check it out here: Stephen Ilardi: Therapeutic Lifestyle Change for Depression.

5. Depression: What Everyone Needs to Know – This is a recent primer on depression written by Professor of Psychology Jonathan Rottenberg and published in 2021. It’s not a bestseller but I found it to be a very straightforward up-to-date introduction on the causes of depression and what to do about it.

6. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari – This very popular audiobook written and read by Johann Hari deals with depression at more of a societal level confronting the epidemic of loneliness and lost communal connections we face. It reads more like an anecdotal 9-hour TED Talk than a science-based examination of depression. Nevertheless it has some interesting ideas in it that can help us out as individuals and as a society to deal with depression.

7. My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel – Episodes of depression often come with the comorbidity of anxiety. And author Scott Stossel has had his own struggles with anxiety disorders throughout his life. Much like Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon, Scott Stossel sets out to explore the biological and cultural factors that contribute to anxiety, along with exploring the history of this affliction. If your depression comes with a hefty dose of anxiety, as mine does, then I recommend this audio book. If you wanna hear a talk about the book, then watch this YouTube video: Scott Stossel: My Age of Anxiety Book Talk.

8. Beat Depression – 50 Things You Can Do Today: An Easy Self-Help Guide by Paul Vincent – This is a short 2-hour audio book by a British fellow who suffered from depression named Paul Vincent who started a website on ways to beat depression and he’s compiled many of the things you can do in this little audio book. It’s not necessarily groundbreaking, but I found it to be practical and insightful. Some of the ideas you might find goofy, but some might be worth trying out. The weird thing about this cognitive-involved disorder known as depression is that the placebo effect often works. If you think that you feel better, then you often are better!

Best Audio Programs on Depression & Anxiety:

The Mindful Way Through Depression – This popular Sounds True audio program by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, John Teasdale, and Jon Kabat-Zinn presents Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for dealing with and preventing depression. If you’d like a free 3-hour audio introduction to some of the ideas in this audio program check out The New Psychology of Depression by Danny Penman & Mark Williams who are co-authors of the book Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. The New Psychology of Depression is offered free as a podcast from Oxford University.

Pema Chodron Audio Programs – If you’re open to Buddhist wisdom on dealing with suffering, then I can’t recommend highly enough the teachings of Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. She’s written many bestselling books that are on audio book, but I really recommend her original audio programs recorded at her retreats. When it comes to dealing with destruction emotions like fear, anger, grief, pain, guilt, anxiety, and depression, Pema Chodron is a master at conveying Buddhist wisdom on dealing with these forms of suffering. I’ve listened to almost all of her audio programs many times and a few of my favorites are Don’t Bite the Hook and Getting Unstuck. You certainly don’t have to be a practicing Buddhist to gain benefit from Pema’s teachings. Pema’s calming voice and teachings have helped me through many difficult days.

Hope and Help for Your Nerves, Pass Through Panic: Freeing Yourself From Anxiety and Fear, and Freedom from Nervous Suffering by Dr. Claire Weekes – Australian Dr. Claire Weekes wrote several books on dealing with anxiety disorders including the bestselling Hope and Help for Your Nerves (1962). While none of her actual books are on audio book, she did record these audio programs based on her books which are just as good. Even though they’re older recordings, they still ring true today with no-nonsense advice on dealing with nervous illness. These short audio programs are helpful to anyone suffering depression with anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, or generalized anxiety disorder.

Stress and Your Body Course from The Great Courses Taught by Stanford Professor Robert Sapolsky – Stress is obviously related to depression, and American neuroendocrinology researcher Robert Sapolsky is an expert on the biology of stress. He’s the author of the book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping. Sapolsky is also a very engaging lecturer and back in 2010, The Great Courses released his course Stress and Your Body which covers the effects of stress on the body and the mind. The 12-hour course contains many of the ideas from his book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, and two of the lectures cover depression and another lecture covers anxiety. If you want to get a taste of Professor Sapolsky as a lecturer, check out his popular video lecture from Stanford University: Stanford’s Sapolsky On Depression in the U.S..

Best Videos on Depression & Anxiety:

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Body Scan Meditation on YouTube – If you’ve suffered from depression and anxiety and you want to suffer less, then you’re probably gonna want to learn how to meditate. Regular meditation is a good thing to do in general, and if you’re in depression, it’s one of the easiest ways to slow down your mind and ease your constant negative thought patterns. I won’t go into all the audio programs that teach meditation (I’ve listened to dozens, and they’re not hard to find). However, I will present this guided meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. When in depression, I find it helpful to listen to guided meditations as opposed to just trying to meditate in silence. And this particular 45-minute body scan meditation works through focusing on all different parts of your body, I’ve listened to hundreds of times. It’s free on YouTube, but if you want to buy the audio program that this meditation is on along with some other meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn you can get it here: Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 1. There are thousands of other guided meditations out there, but I always return to this one. Kabat-Zinn sounds like actor Richard Gere soothingly guiding you through the most relaxing body scan of your life.

Charlie Rose Brain Series – Depression is a very complex mental illness. If you want to learn about the latest insights into it, you might as well learn about the brain as a whole and introduce yourself to the latest knowledge in neuroscience. One of the best free resources for learning about the brain on the internet is the Charlie Rose Brain Series available on streaming video through CharlieRose.com. About ten years ago Charlie Rose sat down with Nobel Prize-winning psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Eric Kandel as they explored the pioneering discoveries of neuroscience over the course of over 20 episodes. In each episode Charlie and Dr. Kandel were joined by a roundtable of leading brain scientists and researchers to explore an aspect of neuroscience. All of the episodes are worth watching but a few ones related to depression are The Mentally Ill Brain, The Anxious Brain, and their episode dedicated specifically to Depression.

For some more free audio & video resources dealing with depression check out our blog post:

Help with Depression on Free Audio & Video

I hope this blog post helps you find some good audio & video learning resources to learn more about depression and anxiety and ways you prevent and cope with this mood disorder. Obviously bibliotherapy is no substitute for talk therapy or medication when it comes to depression & anxiety. If you think you’re in an episode of depression you should talk to a healthcare professional, psychiatrist, and/or psychotherapist.

I’ll keep adding to this blog post as I find more and better audio & video resources relating to depression & anxiety!