The Mindful Way Through Depression – Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness – Book Review

mind way through depression book review

Title: The Mindful Way Through Depression – Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness

Authors: Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal & Jon Kabat-Zinn

Published: 2007

Publisher: Guilford

Pages: 273

Price:  £15.99 (paperback) 20% discount for UK readers using MINDKMS13 code (Valid from 1st August – 30th September) Click HERE

Other parts of the world : $21.95 (RRP) Click HERE

Genre: Self Help


Winner of the Association for Behavioural and 

Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Self-Help Seal of Merit!

Over 160,000 in print!

When you have depression or are suffering from any kind of mental health issue like anxiety, a self-help book is often to be taken with a pinch of salt. I have been a big self-help book reader for over 14 years and have developed an inner sceptic about books being of any use to me, especially on the subject of depression and anxiety. And since beginning to practice mindfulness I have been keen to understand more and to see if any book actually does what it says on the cover, and makes those changes that many self-help books proclaim to do.


The Mindful Way Through Depression does what it says on the cover.

I say this in all seriousness. Never has a book gotten to the core of what it feels like to be depressed or suffer from anxiety for me, more than this one. Instead of useless exercises used as a filler in a self-help book, which most people bypass, as they are of very little use in day-to-day life, this book offers instructions and guidance that can have long lasting and profound effects on one’s state of mind and personal freedom.

“If we have been depressed before, a low mood can become easier and easier to trigger over time, because each time it returns, the thoughts, feelings , body sensations, and behaviours that accompany it form stronger and stronger connections to each other. Eventually, any one element can trigger depression by itself.”  (The Mindful Way Through Depression)


So What Is So Good About This Book?

It’s real. It doesn’t sugar-coat your experience. There are no positive thinking antidotes; no gratitude lists to write; no inauthentic exercises. The writers of this book have managed to offer, step-by-step, a way through depression; a way to be with the feelings that come, and a way to not only manage depression and anxiety, but to finally, at long last, make friends with what is a debilitating condition. I have been reading this book for a little over 2 weeks now, following what the authors say to do, using the CD that accompanies it, and I am really noticing a difference in my state of mind. I am feeling a greater sense of inner peace and freedom and do not feel controlled by my feelings or thoughts any more. 

Clinically Proven Methods

The methods used include feeling the feelings, relating to the body in a whole new way, embracing ‘what is’ instead of distracting or pushing through, and using the senses. It seems simple, but takes practice, and this mindfulness practice has worked for many many people to experience a greater relief from symptoms like depression and anxiety.

It includes meditations but is not for any specific religion. It’s for everyone and is very simple to do. 
The methods shown give examples of real people with genuine experiences of depression doing the practice, and real tools for using these in every day life. The key with this book is it encourages you to embrace what you learn in your normal routine. It’s not about sitting on a meditation cushion and that is that; it’s about utilising proven methods whilst in the midst of a challenging mood swing or a despairing moment. It brings a sense of no longer feeling powerless when confronted by our emotions and thoughts.

This Is Not About Thinking Your Way Out Of A Bad Mood

Other books may instruct you to think your way out of a bad mood. People (who’ve never been there) may say “Snap out of it”, but this book does the opposite. You feel your way through your experience. I love how this book changed my view of my own thoughts and feelings. The CD, spoken by best-selling author Jon Kabat-Zinn is as graceful as the book to listen to and he speaks in a way that you can’t get this practice wrong; you can’t get any of it wrong, it’s so beautifully explained and expressed.

“Our reactions to unhappiness can transform what might otherwise be a brief, passing sadness into persistent dissatisfaction and unhappiness.”  (The Mindful Way Through Depression).


What Does ‘The Mindful Way Through Depression’ Cover?

The chapters are separated in sequence so that as you move through the book it feels a gentle graceful shift into a new way of experiencing feelings and thoughts.
The book includes:
Introduction: Tired of Feeling So Bad for So Long
I. Mind, Body, and Emotion
1. “Oh, No, Here I Go Again”: Why Unhappiness Won’t Let Go
2. The Healing Power of Awareness: Making a Shift to Freedom
II. Moment by Moment
3. Cultivating Mindfulness: A First Taste
4. The Breath: Gateway to Awareness
5. A Different Kind of Knowing: Sidestepping the Ruminative Mind
III. Transforming Unhappiness
6. Reconnecting with Our Feelings—Those We Like, Those We Don’t Like, and Those We Don’t Know We Have
7. Befriending our Feelings
8. Seeing Thoughts as Creations of the Mind
9. Mindfulness in Everyday Life: Taking a Breathing Space
IV. Reclaiming Your Life
10. From Being Unhappy to Being Fully Alive
11. The Mindfulness Program and Your Life: Bringing It All Together
The CD that accompanies the book includes:
Audio CD Tracks (click below for samples):
1. Introduction (3:01)
2. Body Scan (29:02)
3. Mindful Standing Yoga (10:58)
4. Mindfulness of the Breath (10:38)
5. Mindfulness of the Breath and Body (9:24)
6. Mindfulness of Sounds and Thoughts (10:34)
Total Running Time: 77:25

Who Would Benefit From This Book?

  • Anyone with depression.
  • Anyone with anxiety.
  • Anyone wanting to become more mindful in life.
  • Anyone wanting to embrace the present moment.
  •  Anyone with a pulse.


Accessible to all. Very easy to read. It flows perfectly through each chapter. No jargon. Written by authors who really know what they are talking about. Not confusing. Useful and worthwhile. A book that really does what it says on the cover. The CD complements the book brilliantly and is perfect for anyone struggling with depression and needing help on what to do to view the experience differently.
Absolutely no critique. I am sorry, but I cannot find anything wrong with this book.
*Post Disclaimer: I received ‘The Mindful Way Through Depression’  from Guilford Press in the UK for review. All opinions are my own.  

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Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin, author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ is a dedicated writer and blogger who fearlessly explores life’s deepest questions. Faced with a decade of profound anxiety and grief following the loss of her father and her best friend Michael, Kelly embarked on a transformative journey guided by mindfulness, and she hasn’t looked back since. Through her insightful writing, engaging podcasts, and inspiring You Tube channel Kelly empowers others to unearth the hidden treasures within their pain, embracing the profound truth that they are ‘enough’ exactly as they are.

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  1. Andy Bowker
    August 12, 2013 / 7:51 pm

    Sounds an interesting book 🙂 I have never been seriously depressed since I recovered from the worst time of the life .. well, maybe it was quite bad when I was unemployed but that was a bit different. But like you, I've never been able to fully 'shake off' the so called bad stuff. I am just about to put on the CD now. Listened to a bit of it but not all of it – will let you know what I think. Did you get any 'aha' insights from the book?

  2. August 13, 2013 / 8:22 am

    Hi Andy, one thing I will say about this book it is not just for people that are depressed, anyone wanting to live in the present moment, and wants real working tools to make that change, this book does just that. I may experience anxiety but I can see how when in low moods this supports me greatly. This book helps you make friends with 'the bad stuff'.

    The main aha moments were both labelling my thoughts and discovering I use aversion tactics by getting in touch with my body. This has been amazing for me. I am now beginning to finally discover I am not my thoughts and I had been wondering for a long time how to do this. There was not just one aha moment it was a one big aha moment from the beginning to the end.

  3. Andy Bowker
    August 13, 2013 / 6:53 pm

    sounds ace .. Eckhart Tolle talks about this subject but doesn't really say how to do things. Might just have to get my hands on the book 🙂

  4. August 13, 2013 / 7:01 pm

    As I said above, it was no joke, this is a good book for everyone. It just gives you ways to integrate being mindful and present into every day life.

  5. August 20, 2013 / 4:25 pm

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