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9 Best Books On PTSD and Traumatic Experiences

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a debilitating condition that causes many sufferers to withdraw from their friends and loved ones.

It’s hard to know how to help someone with PTSD, but we are going to look at some of the best books on PTSD and traumatic experiences.

These books may not cure your friend or loved one’s PTSD, but they will provide insights into what you can do for them. 

PTSD symptoms have been a part of my life for decades and I know there is struggle, but there’s also hope.

How Can PTSD Self-Help Books Help Me?

Estimates say that around 20% of people who have experienced some kind of traumatic event will develop PTSD at some point. 

Add to that, the stat that 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one trauma in their lives, this means 7-8% of the whole population will suffer from PTSD during their lifetime. 

It is something that can affect anyone, from any background, age group, or other demographic.

I am very passionate about helping moms who, like me, have been through traumatic events, whether these were adverse childhood experiences or they happened in adult life.

The aftermath of life events such as emotional domestic abuse, domestic violence, or any type of physical violence, and sexual abuse, can prevent someone from living a normal life.

Thankfully, PTSD is not a life sentence!

We can and must combat PTSD (pun intended for awareness, since combat veterans are some of the trauma victims that commonly suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder).

While self-help books can never replace the right help from mental health professionals, they can often be a great support system. 

Helping you or a loved one to identify PTSD in themselves and move forward towards taking action can be the first step to living with the condition.

The best books on PTSD

There are many great books on PTSD but here are some of the best ones that are worth reading for yourself or to support a friend or family member through their healing process.

The Body Keeps Score

One of the most common routes to dealing with PTSD is to try a different range of standard and alternative therapies. 

In The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk combines the latest in psychology, neuroscience, and body-centered therapies to create a better understanding of trauma as well as how to treat it.

This self-help book takes the view that trauma has an impact on the subconscious that traditional treatment options cannot impact. Therefore, alternative approaches are a must.

The Complex PTSD Workbook

This important book by Dr. Arielle Schwartz isn’t one for beginners and is definitely more of an in-depth guide for people who want to work through a system. 

The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach To Regaining Emotional Control And Becoming Whole is for those suffering from complex trauma.

It includes a range of effective techniques that are best used alongside therapy.

The book does live up to its name in that it is a workbook that requires time and focus to work through. Inner work can be hard work!

The Complex PTSD Workbook offers practical advice and helps with understanding the layers of trauma and how to best recover from them.

Getting Past Your Past

Written by Francine Shapiro, this book looks at scientifically proven EMDR therapy and how it can help PTSD sufferers. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is recognized by the Department of Defense and the American Psychiatric Association as a way to help with these kinds of conditions.

Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy looks at the subconscious impact of trauma, where people are unaware of the painful experiences they have suffered. 

The aim of this book is to allow people to identify past trauma and to avoid becoming trapped by it.

Forgiving What You Can’t Forget

If you are seeking a more spiritual approach to PTSD, then this might be the book for you. 

Lysa Terkeurst creates an easy-to-read format that looks at PTSD through a spiritually-based approach. 

Her theological training creates an approach about forgiving the people behind the trauma and how to deal with lack of remorse.

While not for everyone, this approach could be ideal for people for whom religion is a big part of daily life and who prefer to bring some of that to their handling of PTSD.

Because my faith is a very important part of my life, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget Study Guide: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That’s Beautiful Again really resonates with me.

I also appreciate that Lysa Terkeurst created a study guide to accompany the book.

The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook

This book from author Glenn Schiraldi is often given as one of the best resources for trauma survivors and their families. 

The book works through a range of effective techniques, alternative treatments, and even self-help techniques.

The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth covers a wide view on PTSD that ranges from childhood trauma through to substance abuse and also for military veterans.

The PTSD Workbook

This book by psychologist and trauma expert Mary Beth Williams is based on work with many PTSD sufferers around the world and offers a series of tools to help conquer symptoms. 

The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms helps people to categorize their trauma, spot the symptoms of it, and then to use the practical guide to deal with them.

The book serves as a handbook for trauma survivors to better understand their mental health and know where to go next to improve it.

Struggle Well

This book by Ken Faulke and Josh Goldberg is great for veterans and their families. 

Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma is a very specific view on the issues around PTSD specifically for those involved with the military but this makes it very useful if you or the person you are reading for fits that description.

This book uses science-backed techniques to help achieve post-traumatic growth and cope with PTSD after war and military experiences. 

Obviously, it is no replacement for therapy but a good place to better understand this unique view on the condition.

Transformed by Trauma

This book is written by two doctors and takes a solid science-backed approach to the techniques that can help people cope with PTSD. 

While not speaking from their personal experience, the authors of Transformed by Trauma: Stories of Posttraumatic Growth talk from the view of working with many patients in their respective specialties.

The book is informative and very helpful for anyone wanting to understand how trauma affects the brain and the body. It’s really surprising!

There is also good information on positive coping skills although there are no specific exercises to work through.

Whole Again

Whole Again: Healing Your Heart and Rediscovering Your True Self After Toxic Relationships and Emotional Abuse is an informative and well-written self-help book that focuses on relationship trauma. 

This is one of the most complex types of PTSD and can have a long-lasting impact on a person’s life if it isn’t understood.

The book by Jackson Mackenzie looks at different personality disorder traits, issues such as toxic relationships, and how best to move on from these things.

Best advice and help

Even the best self-help books are not a substitute for medical advice. As with any self-help book, these best books on PTSD will help you better understand yourself or a loved one who struggles with it. 

These books can be used as a stepping stone to therapy or even alongside it to help with PTSD and all of its associated issues.

For the last decade, I’ve been studying many modalities that help in the healing of trauma – all types of trauma.

My research has helped me reframe my own painful memories and become more of my true self while finding different ways to help other moms, too.

My upcoming guidebook for moms, based on my own life, will provide stories, strategies, and steps to heal unresolved pain and break unhealthy cycles, so you can find peace, feel whole, and become a more positive mom.

Here’s to making it a New York Times bestseller!

Did I miss any of the best books on PTSD you know and love? Share your thoughts and suggestions with us below.

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Catherine Rivas

Monday 16th of August 2021

After 15 years of abuse he I am left with anxiety depression and PTSD. He not only was my husband but also my pastor

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

Tuesday 17th of August 2021

I am sad you went through this, Catherine. I know that you can overcome this and I'll be praying for you.