10 Christian Books on Depression

Whether you're in the middle of a depressing season or comforting a family member with depression, these Christian books on depression are an excellent resource.

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Updated Mar 21, 2023
10 Christian Books on Depression

Some of us grew up in churches where we were taught real Christians don’t have depression. Others were told that depression was always a spiritual maturity problem. While spiritual struggles often play a role in depression, many pastors have recognized for centuries that depression is complicated. Thankfully, many Christian leaders have written about comfort and help for those who struggle with depression. These 10 books use various perspectives and methods to help many kinds of readers dealing with depression.

Disclaimer: these books are not intended as a substitute for mental health treatment or advice. Readers who struggle with depression are advised to consult mental health professionals.

1. Depression, Anxiety, and Other Things We Don’t Want to Talk About by Ryan Casey Waller.

Sometimes the thing people struggling with depression need most is to hear they’re not the only one. Waller describes his battle with depression and other mental health issues and his slow realization that his attempts to self-medicate the pain weren’t helping. He then outlines hard-won lessons about recognizing one’s condition, having conversations about mental health with other people, and cultivating healthy choices for a stabler life.

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2. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.

First published under a pseudonym, A Grief Observed deals with a particular kind of depression. Lewis’ wife, Joy Davidman, passed away in 1960, four years after they were legally married. Their story—Lewis initially marrying her in a civil union to give her British citizenship, marrying her in an Anglican ceremony after realizing he loved her—has become famous through the movie Shadowlands. A Grief Observed shows Lewis in the aftermath, grieving and wondering what he believes about God’s goodness. Lewis doesn’t mince words as he describes his pain, but his honesty makes this book comforting for anyone who has wondered whether their depression discredits their faith.

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3. In the Middle of the Mess: Strength for This Beautiful, Broken Life by Sheila Walsh.

Sheila Walsh has become famous for her music and Christian books, but it hasn’t been an easy journey. As she has discussed in several books (particularly her 1992 book Honestly), she has a family history of mental illness and has struggled with depression for decades. This book combines her story with lessons about learning to trust God with ongoing struggles while seeking peace and resilience. She directs her insights to Christian women and gives lessons that apply beyond just depression but with great honesty about mental health, making this more than the average inspiring Christian living book.

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4. On Getting Out of Bed: On the Gift and Burden of Living by Alan Noble.

Noble considers a dilemma that every person suffering from depression or anxiety must face: everyone has to live life. Intensive treatment may be necessary, and medication may help, but everyone has to get out of bed every morning. Noble helps readers see that they can only find meaning for their lives once they recognize each person is beloved by God and born with a duty to live well. When people understand life itself as a calling, something to use well, they find the strength to live each day. Noble’s approach goes against the grain of many self-improvement thinkers, arguing that life should be lived well regardless of whether people “find their dream” or become great. However, his advice will refresh anyone who has realized self-help only goes so far, and that life still has to be lived when its promises fail.

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5. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society by Henri Nouwen.

While the other books on this list are written about suffering from depression, Nouwen looks at it from a broader perspective. He helps ministers see how modern life has created a broad form of depression. As religious belief becomes less common and people struggle to find overarching narratives that give their lives meaning, to keep on living often seems senseless. Nouwen outlines how ministers can help people not by giving easy answers but by recognizing they have similar wounds. In recognizing their brokenness, ministers find the means to provide empathetic care. A refreshingly honest look at how religious leaders can help congregants and friends with their burdens.

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6. Companions in the Darkness: Seven Saints Who Struggled with Depression and Doubt by Diana Gruver.

While many Christian groups have avoided discussing depression, many Christian leaders—even famous ones—have struggled with despair and discouragement. Diana Gruver looks at seven leaders—Martin Luther, Hannah Allen, David Brainerd, William Cowper, Charles Spurgeon, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr. She considers how each person’s experience with depression informed their career or theology. She then shows what each person wrote about finding the strength to face each day.

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7. Encouragement for the Depressed by Charles Spurgeon.

Charles Spurgeon’s spiritual depth amid his battle with depression has helped many Christians see that mental illness doesn’t mean God can’t use people. His 1915 sermon “Encouragement for the Depressed” looks at one of the Bible’s more poignant stories of despair: Israelites returning to Jerusalem and mourning that while they are home again, their new temple is nothing like the glorious previous one. Spurgeon uses this story to encourage Christians who struggle with faith or strength to see that while doubt may be understandable and God’s work often starts small, God can use “the day of small things.”

The book also makes for great reading alongside The Silent Shades of Sorrows, Zack Eswine’s anthology collecting insights on depression from across Spurgeon’s work.

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8. Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

In this classic collection of sermons, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones considers “spiritual depression,” the struggle that one of the Psalmists faces when they write about their souls being “disquieted within me” (Psalm 43:5). Lloyd-Jones observes how often this depressive feeling—feeling unrested or unhappy, struggling to trust God—appears in the Bible and some of its causes. He argues that doubt seems to be at the root of the feeling and analyzes the problem as spiritual warfare (listening to voices other than God) and as a need to be filled (by Holy Spirit-given joy). Less-educated preachers have misused some of Lloyd-Jones’ ideas to shame people who struggle with depression. However, in context, his insights in context are sobering and encouraging. He shows how the first step to dealing with depression can be considering what voices someone is listening to and seeking the voice that provides ultimate security.

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9. When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God—and Joy by John Piper.

Originally part of his book When I Don’t Desire God, Piper gives a primer on how Christians can face their despair and help others struggling. He draws on Puritan pastors like Richard Baxter, highlighting how these writers were often very aware that many factors could cause depression and didn’t find it surprising that Christians should be depressed. Building on their advice, Piper argues that Christians discover joy in Christ when they realize Christ alone justifies them, nothing they do, so their joy in salvation can transcend circumstances. He then provides some practical tips—expressing gratitude to God even when people don’t feel like rejoicing, sharing faith with others—for remembering and reflecting on this joy. Piper takes a similar approach to Lloyd-Jones by emphasizing the need to be filled with Holy Spirit-based joy, but showcases how understanding salvation as an undeserved God frees Christians to access that joy.

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10. Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer from Depression by Zack Eswine.

Here, Eswine takes a different approach to Spurgeon and depression than he used in the anthology The Silent Shades of Sorrow. Instead of giving a collection of Spurgeon’s words, Eswine shows the principles behind Spurgeon’s teachings about depression. He talks about “harmful help” (people who try to offer comfort and condescend). He talks about the need to admit struggling with depression (Spurgeon spoke about it frequently, even from the pulpit). These principles show that while a lot has changed since Spurgeon’s ministry days, his perspective on mental health still has good things to teach us today.

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Further Reading:

5 Encouraging Christian Books on Anxiety

30 Top Christian Books about Faith and Community

100 Good Christian Books You Should Read Soon

50 Best Christian Books for Deeper Learning

Photo Credit: Getty Images/globalmoments

Connor SalterG. Connor Salter is a writer and editor, with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing from Taylor University. In 2020, he won First Prize for Best Feature Story in a regional contest by the Colorado Press Association Network. He has contributed over 1,200 articles to various publications, including interviews for Christian Communicator and book reviews for The Evangelical Church Library Association. Find out more about his work here.


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