When you’ve got depression, you may need to come up with lots of different strategies to try to overcome it, or at least make it easier to live with. Your doctor may prescribe medication or refer you for counselling, and there’s evidence exercise and a healthy diet can help ease symptoms.
Now there’s a theory that what you read can have an impact on how you feel. British GPs are launching a Books On Prescription programme, which, as well as recommending self-help books, will involve cheerful and uplifting books intended to help boost the moods of people with mild to moderate depression.
The researchers behind the scheme say reading is a great way of dealing with anxiety because it can help you to relax. It can also allow you to escape your world and difficulties you’re experiencing, even briefly.
One study found that reading reduced stress by around 67%, making it the most effective stress-busting activity among a range of pastimes. But mental-health experts warn that reading should only be used to supplement other treatments and not replace them.
Books also need to be carefully chosen as some can have the opposite effect. In the UK, a list of suitable books has been compiled and the titles on it will be distributed to hospitals and workplaces.
The recommended books include:
- The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
- Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
- Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
- Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
- A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich
- Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
- Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
- The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
- A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
- Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
- To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell
- A Winter Book by Tove Jansson
The Weekly did a poll and came up with these ideas:
- Anything by Marian Keyes, Maeve Binchy, Janet Evanovich, Fannie Flagg or Sophie Kinsella.
- The Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkien
- Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.