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July 30, 2012

Book Recommendation: The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide

PCH Treatment Center would like to recommend an important resource for persons with Bipolar Disorder, as well as their families, loved ones and friends.  The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know, is written by David J. Miklowitz PhD, an expert on the treatment of Bipolar Disorder and a consultant to PCH Treatment Center. Considered to be among the best patient books on the topic, the guide is now in its second edition.

The Bipolar Disorder Survival GuideBipolar disorder, a mood disorder marked by alternating periods of heightened mood, or mania, and episodes of depression, affects over six million American adults. Taking into account that bipolar disorder is found among people — young and old — from all walks of life, The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide focuses primary on practical tips for managing moods and improving daily life, advice for recognizing and heading off mania or depression, and strategies for telling the difference between everyday ups and downs versus symptoms of bipolar.

Taking patient information one step further, Dr. Miklowitz, Professor of Psychiatry in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute, and a Senior Clinical Research Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, offers excellent, reader-friendly summaries of the underlying genetics and biology of the disorder, the pros and cons of currently available medications, and what to expect from psychotherapy. He also provides special sections on overcoming suicidal thoughts and feelings, parenting challenges for adults with bipolar, issues women diagnosed with bipolar may encounter, and how to navigate the workplace, including how to tell coworkers about your illness without endangering your career.

This book can be invaluable for those diagnosed with bipolar, but if you are in the position to support a family member with bipolar disorder, Dr. Miklowitz provides you with important tools for better understanding what your family member is going through — and what you can do to help.

As Dr. Miklowitz writes in the introduction to the book’s second edition:

I wrote this book to respond to a need voiced by virtually everyone with whom I have worked, along with their family members. People with the disorder wish for more understanding from relatives, friends, and coworkers. Their family members, in turn, want to know how best to help their bipolar relative without becoming angry, controlling, or over protective. Both ask the core question this book attempts to answer: How can people with the disorder achieve better mood stability and lead more fulfilling life, while taking medications and dealing with the realities the illness imposes?

Pullout worksheets at the end of the book include a checklist for symptoms of depression, a chart to identify support team members, trigger checklist, a chart to track progress of a behavioral action plan and a suicide prevention plan. This is followed by an extensive list of national organizations focused on bipolar disorder and a bibliography, including books of first-person accounts of those living with the mood disorder.

This guide is not meant to replace the care and advice of a practitioner, but is one more piece of the puzzle for creating a full, satisfying life. As Miklowitz puts it, understanding the facts of your disorder will help you accept it and live with it.

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