Last updated: May 05, 2008

Some British doctors are prescribing self-help books instead of drugs or traditional talk therapy for patients who are suffering from mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Under the program, patients take prescriptions to local libraries where they check out therapist-approved titles, such as Helen Kennerley's Overcoming Anxiety: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques and The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, MD.


Known as bibliotherapy, the practice is not for every patient, and it's only as effective as the book that's being read and the individual's willingness to use it. In the United States, therapists practice bibliotherapy informally. But American psychologist Christine Padesky, PhD, whose best-selling book Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think is among the titles prescribed in Britain, says relapse rates for depression and anxiety would be significantly lower if more physicians prescribed "not just pills, but skills."