Depression in teens is on the rise in America. If your teen is one of the over 3 million who struggles with depression or anxiety (or both), they can use every opportunity to give themselves a mental boost. Negative thinking from depression is hard to shake and can sap your teen’s confidence and energy.
For my teenager, we set limits on electronics and internet time because it can lead to further isolation and interfere with sleep. Sometimes it helps to take things old school. I’ve put together this list of uplifting books for your depressed teen.
They aren’t your typical self-help books. Each has fun illustrations and bite-sized motivational messages that even exhausted teens can digest.
My teenager enjoyed them, and I hope your teen will too. I’ve even looked at some of them myself when I needed a boost.
Of course these aren’t a substitute for proper medical treatment and therapy, but mental illness is a long road, and any strategies to help lift the spirits should be welcome. May these bring a little sunshine on dark days.
This post contains some affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you use them (at no cost to you). Full disclosure. Tips are based on personal experience and should not be considered medical advice. Full disclaimer.
Book Recommendations for Anxious or Depressed Teens
1. You Can Do All Things: Drawings, Affirmations and Mindfulness to Help With Anxiety and Depression
This motivational book includes tips for dealing with negative thoughts and getting through tough days. The author shares her own battle with depression in a relateable way that shows the reader they are not alone. Together with the whimsical illustrations, it’s no wonder this book is therapist recommended and has racked up so many 5-star reviews.
One reviewer writes: “The pictures are lovely, in and of themselves, but coupled with the phrases, this truly becomes a book that can help on the bad days. The phrases aren’t trite and meaningless, they don’t give platitudes like ‘Just try harder!’ or other such nonsense. It’s apparent that they were written by someone who understands the struggle but still finds the good. That makes it easier to find the goodness in yourself.”
Adorable illustrations from Chibird comics fill this book, along with positive messages, such as, “You are not a failure. You are still growing!”
The cute characters are sure to warm the heart and be a hit with teens. Flipping through the pages is like a virtual hug. It will light up the bookshelf. This one made my teenager smile, and I frequently find it in her bed.
Lin-Manuel Miranda – need I say more? Perfect for your Hamilton fan, this book captures the best of Miranda’s famous inspirational morning and evening tweets. Small poems with uplifting messages you can read again and again, such as:
“Good night now, and rest.
Today was a test.
You passed it, you’re past it.
Now breathe till unstressed.”
It reminds me of a Shel Silverstein book where joy is jumping off the page.
Cartoons from the illustrator of Introvert Doodles, this time giving a humorous look at life with anxiety. Those with mental illness know it can make such a big difference to know you’re not the only one going through these struggles. This book of supportive and encouraging cartoons is perfect for the anxious teen.
As one reviewer described, “I hugged this book when I finished it! Love love love this book! It’s like a warm hug from an understanding friend. It’s a short read, but something you can return to for comfort when you feel like no one gets it.”
Another book by Maureen Marzi Wilson that I could not resist including. Though not all teens with depression or anxiety are introverts, a good number are. This activity book teaches the introvert to embrace their inner awesomeness through fun exercises like drawing your own introvert mascot. It also gets you doing something, which can be a challenge when suffering from anxiety or depression.
6. The Depression Workbook for Teens: Tools to Improve Your Mood, Build Self-Esteem, and Stay Motivated
I’ll admit, this book requires your teen to do a little work. But if they’re willing to put in some effort, it has some helpful strategies for managing depression. The book is written by a licensed child and adolescent therapist and includes the latest strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. The exercises are designed specifically for teens.
It has positive reviews from counselors, parents, and other therapists who have all found it helpful for teens.
This book has important explanations and tips for teens on living with depressison.
One reviewer writes, “This book would be a “gift” to any teen experiencing depression. Written in a way that clearly shows respect for its readers, and in a tone that is both reassuring and empowering, it provides lots of useful information about depression, guidance about how to go about getting help, positive coping strategies, and ways to interrupt the cycle of negative thoughts, behaviors and feelings that contribute to depression. As a psychologist who works with adolescents, I look forward to sharing this very valuable resource with my clients.”
What teen doesn’t want a journal with a unicorn-narwhal-sloth on the cover? This one is designed specifically for people with mood disorders from the author of You Can Do All Things. The author knows what it’s like, because she’s been there. She feels like a trusted friend.
It is a guided journal with fun prompts that encourage the user to get messy and dig deep. It teaches you to celebrate your own uniqueness through her delightful illustrations and encouraging words.
9. You’re Strong, Smart, and You Got This: Drawings, Affirmations, and Comfort to Help with Anxiety and Depression
Is three books by Kate Allan too many for one list? I think not. I just had to include her newest release from July 2020.
I want to rip out the pages and tape them all over my walls, but it would ruin this cute little inspiring book. This one would make a wonderful companion to any of the other books on this list. I love how bite-sized and positive yet understanding it is. I think her art and words can make even the most depressed person smile just a bit.
That’s a wrap on my list of recommended books for teens with depression or anxiety.
I’d love to hear if any of them were a hit with you or your teen!