Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression

Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-help Strategies to Build Strength, Resilience and Sustainable Happiness

by Miriam Akhtar

Positive psychology offers a fresh approach and an alternative to how we deal with depression. Rather than the traditional therapy approach of exploring what’s wrong, positive psychology puts the focus on growing wellbeing with practices such as learning optimism and cultivating positive emotions. Positive psychology practices have been found to reduce depression symptoms and increase wellbeing. They act as natural anti-depressants. I suffered many episodes of depression and burnout but it was only when I started trying out positive psychology practices that the episodes ceased and have never come back. An early meta-analysis reached the same conclusion that these scientifically-grounded practices significantly decrease depression symptoms and enhance wellbeing. I knew it from personal experience but here was the evidence that encouraged me to bring together these practices in Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression and show how to use positive psychology to prevent and recover from depression. A bibliotherapy study on the book, published in Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, confirms that positive psychology compares favourably to CBT as a treatment for depression.

“Miriam Akhtar’s excellent book breaks new ground, being the first self-help guide for depression that is based on Positive Psychology. It is well-written, accessible and reflects the latest research that applies Positive Psychology to helping people who are in emotional distress.” Prof Neil Frude, Clinical Psychologist. Founder of Books on Prescription

“If I was going to buy one book on positive psychology to treat depression, I’d choose an author who’d been properly trained as a positive psychologist, who knows how to write in an engaging and accessible way, and who understands, first-hand, the challenges of depression. In short, I’d choose Miriam.” Dr Phil Hammond, GP & Comedian


1:    A Positive Approach to Depression
2:    The Science of Happiness
3.    Positive Emotions: The Upward Spiral to Well-being
4.    The Attitude of Gratitude
5.    Savouring the Moment
6.    Meditation: The Mindful Approach
7.    Learning Optimism: Psychological Self-defence
8.    Resilience: The Road to Recovery
9.    Positive Connections: Other People Matter
10.  Vitality: The Body-Mind Connection
11.   From Strength to Strength: You at Your Best
12.   Positive Directions: Moving Forward

The 2nd edition was published in 2018 and, in the same year, the study comparing the book to Paul Gilbert’s classic CBT manual on Overcoming Depression. The positive psychology approach was found to be as effective as CBT in supporting people in overcoming depression and improving their wellbeing. The evidence shows that positive psychology practices really do help people suffering depression.

“For many years I have recommended “Mind Over Mood,” to my clinical psychology trainees as the psychological treatment manual of choice. Miriam Akhtar has now written a very credible depression treatment manual, based on the principles of positive psychology. I am sure that this book will go on to become one of the few other classics in this field… Highly recommended!” Prof Jerome Carson, Clinical Psychologist

“A wonderful set of ideas and techniques that can help reduce depression and build happiness. They’re simple, engaging, practical and – most importantly- they’re all based on evidence from the latest positive psychology research, so we know they really work.” Dr Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness

It gives me a deep sense of meaning to know that the book has helped people around the world, who want to try an evidence-based alternative to therapy and medication. Below are a selection of Amazon reviews and some pictures from places where the book has turned up. At a Happiness Festival and unexpectedly on Channel 4’s Derek! You can also check out the book at its publisher Watkins.

“Miriam uses the scientific findings from positive psychology to suggest strategies which can help people with depression in an insightful way. The book is extremely readable and I would recommend it for anyone interested in positive psychology, mental health, or as a handbook if you are yourself depressed.”

This is just what I needed… A book that helps me to turn my life around, is research based but has not lost its’ humanity. Superb doesn’t really cover it.”

“This is the first book I’ve read about depression that hasn’t made me feel depressed. It’s uplifting, inspiring, hopeful, often amusing and of course – positive. I urge everyone to read it, not just people who have been or are depressed. As Miriam explains, the Positive Psychology aspect of this book isn’t just about getting out of depression, it’s about moving into a positive emotional state – happiness!”

“You don’t need to be depressed to benefit from this book. It’s full of realistic techniques to help you flourish and reach your potential in life, whatever your emotional starting point.”

“Hello Miriam, I’ve just finished re-reading your book about Positive Psychology and overcoming depression. Thank you so much for your work. More than anything else in the last twenty years this has given me hope again. I’m seeing real progress.”

Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression is also available in these and other languages.

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