Brain Self-Help: An Incomplete List of Resources

Yesterday Andy pointed out that a list of non-going-to-therapy resources would be useful. Insurance, time, frustration with therapeutic experiences, inability to tell parents, etc, can make seeing a therapist either impossible or unappealing. Here’s a (totally incomplete) list. Please please please add other suggestions in the comments! I’ll keep updating.

Relevant disclaimer: I’m not a therapist. Most of the linked blog posts are not written by therapists. (Though most of the books are written by someone with a psych degree.)

The below are first general resources, then sorted specifically by disorder, followed by some resources if you do decide to seek therapy. If I could pick three I endorse the most, I’d say Boggle, How To Keep Moving Forward, and Don’t Tell Me To Love My Body. All three are italicized in the list.

Miscellaneous/Multi-Disorder Help & Information

DBT Workbook
This is one of many, but it’s received very positive reception from the psych community and did get an award for being evidence based. DBT is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on mindfulness and combines many principles of Zen with therapeutic techniques.

Mindfulness Course
8-week course on mindfulness, suggested by commenter kabarett.

CBT Workbook
Again, one of many, but I’ve looked through this one, and liked the formatting and set up. I’ll amend this with critiques or other suggestions if you have them. CBT is an evidence-based therapy and works for many people, but not all.

What It’s Like in a Mental Hospital

Breakup Girl
Advice and relationships. Suggested by Keith David Smeltz

Dr. Nerdlove
“dispenser of valuable love and relationship advice to nerds, geeks and neo-maxie-zoom-dweebies.”

How To Keep Moving Forward Even When Your Brain Hates You

Books Which Received the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Seal of Merit

The Bounce Back Book
Recommended by Miri–I’ve not had a chance to take a look at it.


Mood Gym

#450: How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed.

Boggle the Owl.
Boggle is an owl. And he is worried about you. Seriously, the best resource on this list.

The Secret Strength of Depression
A general self-help book, highly recommended to me.

Depression Subreddit, r/depression
Because nobody should be alone in a dark place.

I Don’t Want To Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression Have a close friend or partner who is a man with depression–or are one yourself? I don’t actually have either, but I’ve heard good reviews from friends who read this. And we really don’t examine depression in men nearly as well as we should. For instance, it often manifests in feelings of numbness, or unexplained rage–not things we normally associate with depression.


Boggle the Owl

The Take This Project
It’s dangerous to go alone. Designed by videogame developers, suggested by commenter michaeld.

Substance Abuse/Addiction

SMART Recovery

Suicidal Feelings

What to Expect When You Call a Hotline
 really like knowing how things go before I try them. This lovely little guest post from someone on the other and of those phone lines tells you what to expect in terms of conversation (you don’t have to know what to say!) confidentiality, and experience.

Samaritans Help Services

Fabulous IM styled chat where all volunteers you work with are trained in suicide prevention. Strongly recommend for people who don’t do phonecalls well or find dialing for help hard.

Befrienders Worldwide Directory of Hotlines/Help Web-Chats

Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws
Written by Kate Borenstein, this book is not teen-specific, though it’s friendly to all ages. It operates on harm reduction, which is the philosophy that less-dangerous-but-still-risky behavior is always better than more-dangerous-and-risky behavior. I really like it, and do subscribe to harm reduction (it’s supported by evidence!). You also don’t have to read Hello Cruel World from end to end–it’s very easy to just open to a page and go from there.

Eating Disorders

Beyond Body Acceptance: This blog by Pervocracy is…therapeutic. Lovely. Beautiful.

Elyse at Skepchick: Don’t Tell Me To Love My Body

Science of Eating Disorders
n my pre-therapy days (also the worst times in terms of mental health, and when I did the most work to unlearn disordered habits) I often taught myself what not to do by learning all about my disorder. For instance, if most patients with anorexia ate Small Number X calories per day, I decided I was going to eat more than that every single day. To this day, I unlearn behaviors by starting from a research perspective. Also, lots of research focuses on what treatments work and which don’t do as well, which can give you some ideas for coping strategies.

Not my flavor of help, maybe yours? I might just be picky.

If You Do Look For Therapy

Green Flags: What You Want in a Therapist

Braaaains! Being a Skeptical Mental Health Services Consumer
shameless plug]

Gaylesta: Find a member of the LGBTQ Psychotherapy Association in your area. (Your mileage may vary–I’ve not tested this IRL.)

Brain Self-Help: An Incomplete List of Resources

28 thoughts on “Brain Self-Help: An Incomplete List of Resources

  1. 7

    Would Superbetter count? It’s this website where you can set your goals and score your progress and stuff, and I find it to be generally extremely accepting and open for all kinds of issues. It’s not therapy by a longshot of course, but maybe it can help some people just a little bit?

    There’s a TedTalk by the Superbetter creator explaining how it’s supposed to work here:

  2. 9

    There are three beautiful picture books written by Matthew Johnstone.

    I Had A Black Dog – a description of Matthew’s depression, and how he lives with it.
    Info here
    Living With A Black Dog – aimed at people who live with, and/or care for, and/or love sufferers of depression.
    Info here

    Quiet The Mind – an illustrated introduction to meditation.
    Info here

    I find them a really gentle way to explore these issues and get tips on how to help. They can all be found on Amazon as books or e-books (as e-books they might be restricted to tablet format because they’re landscape and full colour – not sure)

    In general, mindfulness resources might be a good thing to add to the list. It can help with many mental health difficulties.

  3. 10

    I’ve found David Burns “Feeling Good;The New Mood Therapy” to super helpful. I keep it on my bookshelf and refer to it somewhat regularly. You just find the chapter for whatever issue you’re dealing with.

    Also, acupuncture for anxiety and depression has been super helpful. Actually, when I read the intro, this is the first thing I thought of, then I read the list of suggestions and it’s all reading. Cost can be a barrier if your insurance doesn’t cover it, but it can be an option.

    Qi gong (taught to me by my acupuncturist) has moves for specific moods. It’s best described as a means of meditation combined with gentle movement and breathing techniques.

    1. 10.1

      I’ll add the book in shortly! (I’ve been away in finals for the last few days). However, though I am familiar with both acupuncture (as well as accupressure–I was always afraid of needles) in numerous rigorous studies, acupressure, when compared to a similar, but placebo, control (such as an untrained grad student with poking with pencils) does no better than the control, and I cannot in good conscience, put it on the list. I’m really happy it’s helping you, but I’d be uncomfy suggesting it to anyone.

    2. 10.2

      I second the recommendation for David Burns’ “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.” It’s an excellent self-help application of the principles of cognitive therapy. Though written primarily for depression, it also can be useful for anxiety.

  4. 11

    Thanks for these – at a glance it looks like a lot of helpful links, have already shared with a couple of people who are on waiting lists for free counselling services!

  5. 12

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  6. 16

    I really like CrazyMeds ( run by Jerod Poore. It’s focus is largely to provide comprehensive information on various pharmacological approaches to any sort of brain-related disorder (from bipolar to epilepsy to migraines and more), or “mentally interesting” as he puts it. It’s coming from the perspective of the patients who actually experiences the symptoms and side effects and provides a lot more than what the professionals offer, as well as creating a community space with forums and so on. The information isn’t sugarcoated or obfuscated, and it offers a peer support system.

  7. 18

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  8. 20

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