Dear Dr. Burns
I suffer from social anxiety and depression. I feel that I don’t need to see a therapist and believe that CBT will be enough to help me.
I have purchased three of your books: The Feeling Good Handbook, Ten Days to Self Esteem and Intimate Connections. This might be overkill but I really wanted to cover all the bases.
However now I am confused and don’t know where to start and how to manage the learning. Which book should I work on first and how long do you think it should take to work through any given book? I believe somewhere you suggest that the Feeling Good Handbook this should be completed within 30 days. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Dr. David’s Answer
Thank you for your question. There are no rules of the road. Ten Days to Self Esteem is the shortest and easiest book, with exercises you can complete at each of the 10 steps. Essentially, it is a 10-step program to teach you the basics of CBT and to show you how to boost your own self-esteem. The publisher has insisted on the name, Ten Days to Self Esteem, but I would prefer the name, Ten Steps to Self-Esteem, so you can complete it at your own pace.
Intimate Connections can be very helpful for loneliness and shyness–it is about the power dynamics of dating to some extent, and how to communicate, how to flirt, how to get people to chase you, how to deal with rejection, and so forth. It also shows you how to overcome the fear of being alone. It is somewhat autobiographical, too, since these are issues I struggled with when I was growing up.
The Feeling Good Handbook is a strong book with a focus on depression as well as anxiety, including shyness, and relationship conflicts as well.
I would start with any one of them and focus on it. There is considerable overlap, so once you learn the techniques they will all flow very easily for you. The key is doing the exercises while you read. The people who do the exercises are almost always the ones who benefit the most from any of my books.
It is kind of like riding a bicycle. You can’t learn to ride by reading about bicycles or watching people ride bicycles. You’ve got to get on a bicycle and give it a try. It might feel a bit shaky, or new and unfamiliar at first, but you can quickly learn to ride.
Research studies have shown that many people can use these books without a therapist and benefit tremendously. Some people with more severe or long-standing will also need the help of a skillful and compassionate therapist, of course.
I am now working on something new and extremely exciting, and will announce it as soon as possible on this website.
Thanks so much!
David Burns, M.D.
Wonderful answer; maybe many of us needed to know about it. I read Feeling Good a long time ago and it was a must; it was like having my own psychiatrist right here at home!
I used to have it beside my bed, on my night table. If I woke up with some kind of some trace of initiating panic, when I saw your face at the tap of the book, I jumped in awareness.
Thank you so much for your life. Now I am 80 years and it seems like I need it again. I’m reading your daily blogs, thank you for sending them, and I ordered When Panic Attacks from Amazon. I know it is going to be a “must” for me and my family and friends.
Thanks again. I wish a long and qualitative life!
Thank you for those kind comments, Nikki. I hope you enjoy When Panic Attacks!
And way to go–80 and still learning! I am almost 75 and still learning all the time.
My story starts with severe depression, I always searched for answers to my problems this is over a 40 year journey. I was told by many doctor’s I have bipolar depression, borderline personality disorder and so on all wasn’t true I come to find out. When I picked up your book the New Mood Therapy that was recommended by my pysciatrist. The most brilliant doctor I have met and grateful I finally found the answers I been looking for. This book changed my life forever so thank you Dr. Burns for lifelong dedication to helping people. I recommend that people with psychiatric issues read this book. My eternal gratitude to both Doctors for changing my life. I would just like to note that I do use medication and this cognitive therapy together.
Hi Laura, Thanks! Perhaps we can read your statement on a podcast, and can use just your first name, or so other name if you like. Really appreciate your thoughtful comments! david