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Doctors Create a List of "Mood Boosting" Books to Help Patients Beat Anxiety and Depression

Update Date: Feb 01, 2013 03:13 PM EST

Why eat pills for depression when you can get the same effects from reading books? According to the Daily Mail, British doctors are prescribing a list of page-turners to help people with mental illness.

UK's Department of Health has lent its support to Reading Well Books on Prescription, a list of "mood boosting" novels doctors believe could help those with depression, anxiety and stress.

The book list, which was created by the Reading Agency, consists of books like Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic The Secret Garden and Cider with Rosie, written by Laurie Lee in 1959.

The agency hopes that people with "mild to moderate" mental health conditions will try reading some of the books on the list before turning to prescription medication, which often have nasty side effects.

"Readers chose books which they thought had qualities that promote well-being," director of research at the Reading Agency Debbie Hicks said, according to Daily Mail. "We have funny and humorous titles and you also get books that have quite breath-taking experiences in them."

"Reading is a really good stress-buster. It can help you escape to another world and get out of your everyday life," Hicks added.  "There's lots of evidence that reading can really help you relax and escape and this is a good strategy for dealing with stress and anxiety."

Recent studies by Mindlab International found that out of a variety of relaxing activities, reading reduced stress the most by an overwhelming 67 percent.

"The scheme aims to bring reading's healing benefits to the six million people with anxiety and depression. There is growing evidence showing that self-help reading can help people with certain mental health conditions get better," Reading Agency said on its website. "Reading Well Books on Prescription will enable GPs and mental health professionals to prescribe patients cognitive behavioral therapy through a visit to the library."

However, experts are warning that the reading list is intended as a supplement and not a cure or replacement for traditional treatment.

Some of the books recommended are listed below:

The Beach Café: Lucy Diamond

The Big Over Easy: Jasper Fforde

Cider with Rosie: Laurie Lee

Haroun and the Sea of Stories: Salman Rushdie

The Pursuit of Love: Nancy Mitford

The Secret Garden: Frances Hodgson Burnett

Smoke and Mirrors: Neil Gaiman

Takes of the City: Armistead Maupin

To the Moon and Back: Jill Mansell

Trouble on the Heath: Terry Jones

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