Customer Reviews: The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know
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on June 13, 2002
When media began publicizing the increase in diagnoses for bipolar disorder a few years ago, it was all but certain that the naysayers eventually would follow.
Bipolar? Yeah, right. That's just the latest fancy excuse for people who don't want to take responsibility for their own actions.
That backlash has already begun.
Those who doubt bipolar is real, or serious, might talk to a friend who's been diagnosed with this potentially devastating brain disorder (once better known as manic depression). It is characterized by cycles of crushing depression alternating with periods of excessive physical, mental and even spiritual energy.
Anyone who has bipolar disorder will tell you: It's real. Unlike other mental health conditions, it does seem to have an "upside" -- sometimes people in hypo-manic stages can be highly creative, gregarious and energetic -- but over time, it can be debilitating, exhausting and even fatal.
In a time of increasing public skepticism, it's nice that one of the nation's top bipolar disorder researchers has published a user-friendly guide to the disease for patients and their families.
"The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide;What You and Your Family Need to Know" by David Miklowitz, (Guilford Press; $18.95) professor of psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is an essential resource.
Time and again in his practical guide, Miklowitz reminds those with bipolar disorder that they are not imagining their disease, and even that the disease itself can make patients prone to doubting themselves.
"The absence of a definitive test (for the disease) makes it easy to forget that you have a bio-chemical imbalance and even easier to believe that you never had one in the first place," he writes. "... Many people start to believe that 'I had this illness once, but now it's under my control,' especially when they've been well for a while. But bipolar symptoms have a way of recurring when you least expect them."
The book offers a wealth of material that can help demystify the disorder. Miklowitz methodically explains the disease, its symptoms and diagnosis, moves on to cogent explanations of its possible causes ("genetics, biology and stress"), then spends most of the book offering advice on how to manage it. He even offers worksheets and logs to help people come to a better understanding of and approach to bipolar illness.
Books by academic researchers always have the potential to be bone-dry. But Miklowitz understands that accessibility is the goal here and is writing for the layperson, even peppering the text with real-life experiences of people with the illness . Reading some of these can be both illuminating and horrifying. Especially when they are in mania, people with this chemical imbalance can do some dangerous, illegal and destructive (to family, friends, self and even strangers) things.
Informative, interesting, and compassionate, "The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide" is a valuable new resource for people with the illness, and their family and friends.
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on July 13, 2003
This book is great. And very well researched.
He does a good job letting us know that there are differences in the types of medications prescibed for rapid cycling vs. "traditional" bipolar. And he gives us some accurate scales to describe the degree of mania or depression.
The case studies are very well chosen, and each person who reads this book should be able to find a bit of themselves contained therein.
Very important: The reading level is very light and it reads like a magazine. Sometimes, these bipolar books tend to go bipolar: Either they read like a medical journal, or they read like a romance novel. Miklowitz has found the happy medium.
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on May 22, 2003
This book is excellent for people who *are* bipolar or have family members that are. Unlike so many books on the disorder, this one doesn't 1. solely spit up another DSM-IV hairball to describe the complexities of the actual *bipolar experience*, or 2. present a narrow viewpoint of how symptoms may manifest themselves. It made me chuckle as I read it, because it addresses the sometimes downright *silly* defiance a person can feel towards their diagnosis, and hopefully explains some of what's really going on inside a bipolar person's head to family members or people they might live with. The section on meds is still pretty updated, which is cool, and I like the fact that they mention some of the slightly less conventional means of dealing with cycling and depression--like thyroid supplementation--that some other books leave out. It also adequately discusses (I think, anyway) Bipolar II and the soft-spectrum versions of the disorder.
This book isn't the one to read if you're strictly reading it for research purposes--you'll find more scientifically-orientated articles on medscape--but I think I'd recommend it as the first book to run out and get if you're diagnosed.
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on November 10, 2002
I found this book to be extremely helpful in dealing with and accepting my 39 year old son's ten year battle with bipolar illness. I have entered an order to buy three additional copies for family members-who sometimes are in denial that it is a real medical illness & think of it as only an excuse for not taking responsibility. I have read several books on bipolar disorder but find that this book gives one a real sense of empowerment. David Miklowitz has written a book that is clear and concise and ends much of the confusion as to dealing with the illness.
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on May 16, 2002
David J. Miklowitz brings clear, easy-to-follow plans to this guide to everything about bipolar illness. His definitions are simple and well-illustrated with real scenarios from sufferers of bipolar illness. The book is a worthwhile purchase just for the examples of mood diary cards, but it is full of all sorts of other practical advice in plain language. It is the best, most comprehensive guide I have found. Miklowittz refers to the well-known scientific and clinical studies without bogging down the text, a common problem with even the most well-respected authors of books about bipolar disorder.
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on July 6, 2002
This book talks to you, not at you. It has been helpful in seeing symptoms that I was unaware were symptoms without being pompus or talking over my head. The author keeps the flow of the text like a friend, explaning a new condition, not a life seantance, and helps find a way to build your life around the diagnoses. This is truly an uplifting and helpful format that the author has used and I recomend it to anyone, newly diagnosed, long time dealing with it, or family or friend.
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on October 19, 2005
I bought this book on a whim when it popped up while I was purchasing something else along similar lines. Thirty pages into the book, I'd guess, in one afternoon, I decided to order another copy to give to my therapist. My feeling, as well as her's, is that the book is valuable to both the layman and the health-care professional. It is very easy to read yet does not mince words about symptoms, medications, reactions and interactions with family, friends and work. It also contains many worksheets and self-analyses that are very helpful for both the bipolar individual and the therapist. I recommend this book very highly to anyone suffering from any degree of bipolar or related illnesses.
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on April 14, 2005
Recently diagnosed with bipolar I felt lost and confused. I didn't know what to expect from myself or others. This book helped me to grasp an understanding of how bipolar works and what I can expect in the future. It even helped me to understand the views of my family and friends.
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on November 20, 2004
Out of desparation, I ordered this book to help my husband and I understand a family member's disorder. I just received the book and have already learned a lot about the disorder. I am about half way through the book. The book is well written, easy to understand and very insightful. This book has already given me a much better understanding of the medical problem in treating individuals that are bipolar. I have a much better understanding of the medications that are used to treat bipolar disorder, some of the reasons why affected individuals do not take their medications and how they blame their manic and depressive episodes on their medications. I now understand the importance of the role of psychiatry, therapy, documenting an individual's behavioral patterns, moods and feelings in conjunction with the medications in order to treat the disorder. The book does an excellant job describing the bipolar individual's perceptions of the illness, family members perceptions and medical professionals perceptions. I can see how there are conflicts based on perceptions and lack of education. I recommend this book to anyone that has a family member with bipolar disorder. I can't wait to finish the book. This book has helped me understand the dynamics behind this very complicated disorder.
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on July 4, 2003
I checked this book out from the library first before ordering it here at amazon - I read in all within a couple of days - it was so informaitive I could not put it down. With all the research that I have done I realize that there is different degrees of bipolar/manic dpression and when I was first diagnoised after years of being diagnoised as having depression it was a big change for me. Then my new doctor was not really sure. So I got this book and after reading it, it finally made me sure of the original diagnosis. Although my case may be mild in some ways compared to others some of it it is not and I can definitely see myself in this book and it explains my whole entire life to me!! Thanks to this author and I look forward to a future when they will find out the cause and possible cure for this brain disorder. I found this book very informative - and thourough... it really gave so much information that I have been looking for in a well put together format. THANKS!
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