Recommended Reads

Books are a great resource for answering questions about mental illness. But in a crunch, it can be difficult to sift through and to find the right one fast. With that said, we have done all the leg work! Below is a recommended reading list of our favorite books on depression for both parents and teens.  Our hope is that a book on this list may help you find some answers, provide support, but most importantly, let you know there is hope and you are not alone.

For Parents

The Parent Handbook on Childhood and Adolescent Depression (Free PDF)

The Parent Handbook on Childhood and Adolescent Depression (

The Parent Handbook on Childhood and Adolescent Depression (Audio book)
By: Erika’s Lighthouse

This is a practical guide, written by parents for parents, with information and ideas on what to do if a child is suffering from depression. Many parents don’t know the signs of depression or where to turn for help. Understanding what’s going on with a child, finding the right treatment, dealing with the schools, negotiating insurance issues – challenges that parents face when their child is suffering from depression, dealt with in a frank and understanding way, in an easy-to-read format.

Adolescent Depression and Suicide: A Comprehensive Empirical Intervention for Prevention and Treatment
By: John S. Wodarski, Lois Ann Wodarski, Catherine N. Dulmus

An in-depth exploration of the relationship of depression to substance abuse and suicide that presents a solid case for early identification. Includes a 6-week coping curriculum, and family intervention strategies.

Rescuing Your Teenager from Depression
By: Norman T. Berlinger, M.D., Ph.D.

This book offers ten parental partnering strategies to help parents help their teen with depression.

Understanding Teenage Depression – A Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Management
By: Maureen Empfield. M.D. and Nicholas Bakalar

A straight forward book that discusses depression, its diagnosis, types, risks, drugs, hospitalization and the effect the disease has on other teenage issues.

The Disappearing Girl – Learning the Language of Teenage Depression
By: Dr. Lisa Machoian

A wonderful book for anyone who lives with or works with adolescent girls. Real stories illustrate how girls can learn to think critically about the messages and rules of today’s adolescence. A practical guide to help girls cope with the pressures they encounter.

Darkness Visible – A Memoir of Madness
By: William Styron

A personal memoir from the author of Sophie’s Choice. The Chicago Sun-Times said it’s “A chilling yet hopeful report from a mental wilderness into which one in ten Americans disappears… enlightening… fascinating.”

Reviving Ophelia -Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls
By: Mary Piher, PhD

The now classic must-read book for every parent; the author has worked with teenagers for decades. In spite of the Women’s Movement, girls are still facing a tougher time than ever in the areas of violence and sexism. This can lead to suicide attempts, depression, dropping out of school or eating disorders. We live in a media-saturated culture with emphasis on looks and materialism, which is “girl-destroying.” Their math scores plummet and depression soars as they enter junior high. The author discusses how our culture got here and what the reader can do to empower our adolescent girls.

The Difference – Growing Up Female in America
By: Judy Mann

What are the problems in our culture that cause boys to feel a sense of entitlement while girls learn to feel submissive? Can we help girls climb the ladder to adulthood without being silenced and submerged into male culture? Written by a columnist for The Washington Post, the author investigates these questions and makes suggestion to parents of BOTH girls AND boys about how we can raise our children differently.

Real Boys – Rescuing our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood
By: William Pollack, PhD

Based on the author’s groundbreaking research at Harvard Medical School, this book explores why so many boys are sad, lonely and confused. Our culture encourages us to raise boys as “little men” which “toughens” them and encourages them to drive their true emotions underground. The reader will get suggestions on how to help boys develop self confidence and emotional intelligence to deal with issues such as depression, violence, drugs, alcohol, sexuality and love.

The Courage to Raise Good Men
By: Olga Silverstein

The author is one of the founding members of the Family Therapy movement here and abroad. She offers a new way to think about male and female roles, and how to transform the mother-son relationship to end the division between the sexes. Our culture tends to perpetuate the concept that girls must “relate” and boys must “achieve.” It also perpetuates the myth that boys must “reject” their mothers and bond only with their fathers in the long run to become real “men.” The author’s goal is to help parents raise “whole” men.

Raising Depression-Free Children – A Parent’s Guide to Prevention and Early Intervention
By: Kathleen Panula Hockey

A thoughtful and practical resource for parents, teachers, and other adults who work with children to help them learn to live optimistically.

Little Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On
By: Mark A. Reinecke, Ph.D.

A pocket-sized book readers can turn to in the very moment they are experiencing anxiety. An “on-the-spot emergency kit for calming worries and fears,” this book features twenty short but helpful lessons and techniques for understanding and calming anxiety.


For Teens

When Nothing Matters Anymore – A Survival Guide for Depressed Teens
By: Bev Cobain, R.N.C.

A survival guide for depressed teens, this book is written with personal stories from teens struggling with mental health issues. Topics include identifying depression, the connection between the illness, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, getting the appropriate help, coping strategies, staying well and the truth behind the stigma.

Conquering the Beast Within – How I Fought Depression and Won…And How You Can, Too
By: Cait Irwin

Cait struggled with depression at 13. She wrote and illustrated this book herself. It is very informative and easy to read. Be sure to read the letters in the back of the book from her family to see various responses to this illness.

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