Book Review: The Depression Toolkit

Gook cover: The Depression Toolkit by William J. Knaus et al.

The Depression Toolkit by William Knaus, Alex Korb, Patricia J. Robinson, Lisa M. Schab, and Kirk D. Strosahl offers a combination of evidence-based tools to help readers with depression feel better.

It contains 46 activities divided into 5 sections: find refuge from negative thoughts, get unstuck when you’re down, beat hopelessness and low motivation, make easy habit changes that you’ll thank yourself for later, and deal with the tough stuff. Each activity begins with a “what to know” section followed by “what to do.” Most activities are 2-3 pages, so the book is short and easy to read.

There’s a strong cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) element. The book addresses topics like sleep, mindfulness, physical activity, avoidance, and accumulating positives. It’s quite practical and action-oriented, with various examples given of ways to implement the different strategies.

Something I’ve noticed in other CBT books, and in this book to some extent, is an air of certainty that the strategies described will always work without fail. I find that to be a bit of a turnoff, as nothing is guaranteed to work for everyone. There’s no mention of the possibility of needing to consider meds, managing suicidal thoughts, or what to do if the strategies in the book aren’t cutting it, so I think the book is probably aimed at the lower end of the depression severity spectrum.

On a personal note, I was really not doing well when I was reading this book. To be honest, reading it felt yucky, and there were a fair number of swear words in my internal reactions. None of the example scenarios resonated with me; they involved far more functional human beings than I am. I don’t think my reaction is reflective of how people in general will react to this book, but I suspect that the more impaired you are by your illness, the less likely you are to feel like this is a book that speaks to you.

If the book’s subtitle, Quick Relief to Improve Mood, Increase Motivation & Feel Better Now, sounds somewhat within reach for you, I can see this being a really good book. If you’re in the boat where that subtitle makes you think yeah, no, been there, done that, and it doesn’t work that way, then it’s probably not the right book for you.

The Depression Toolkit is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.

You can find my other reviews on the MH@H book review index or on Goodreads.

15 thoughts on “Book Review: The Depression Toolkit”

  1. I wish a book would be written about conditions that involve a tumultuous combination of high sensitivity, adverse childhood experience trauma and/or autism spectrum disorder (the latter which, I’ve found, has some symptoms similar to high sensitivity).

    Though it may be clinically labelled as some other disorder, I have a self-diagnosed condition involving ACE trauma, ASD and high sensitivity — which I freely refer to as a perfect storm of train wrecks. It’s one with which I greatly struggle(d) while unaware, until I was a half-century old, that its component dysfunctions had official names. [I also deal daily with formidable clinical depression and hyper anxiety.]

    Such a book (or books) could also include the concept of high school curriculum that teaches the science of the basics of young children’s developing brains and therefore healthy/unhealthy methods of parental/guardian rearing of children who are highly sensitive.

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