Every now and then I get a bundle of books sent my way from a publisher to read and review with my opinion.  Yes, sometimes I also wonder if they were thinking clearly when they gave me the power to read a book and give my opinion to thousands of people! lol… JUST KIDDING!   I absolutely love to read and if you give me a book to read by either an author I love or on a topic or subject I love, then I’m going to read it for sure!!!!  You know the movie Where The Heart Is with Natalie Portman, she lives and has her baby in the Walmart?  Well, I would be the girl that lives in the bookstore.  (No babies though! lol)

Since this is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I said that I was going to be giving you guys all my favorite tools, resources, people, etc. in helping me make it day to day with this illness, I thought it was the perfect time for this book review because this book is an INCREDIBLE resource for someone who is just diagnosed with bipolar disorder or for friends and family members to browse through to get some really good and extremely helpful facts, tips, and tools to help everyone adjust to the new diagnosis in the room.  The book is called Bipolar Disorder, A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by Janelle M. Caponigro, MA, Erica H. Lee, MA, Sheri L. Johnson, PhD, and Ann M. Kring, PhD.

The book begins with a chapter on understanding bipolar disorder.  For someone who has had little to no information or exposure to bipolar disorder, except what they gather off of tv, this section is a must read as it defines and details every aspect of the illness such as: manic episodes, the individual mania symptoms, hypomanic episodes, depressive episodes, the individual depression symptoms, and the different types of bipolar (bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymia).  One section of this chapter that I found incredibly helpful was the discussion of the biology of bipolar disorder.  They discuss not just the typical “brain chemistry is off” material but go further in depth and discuss the genetics of the disorder.  The chapter also mentions other medical conditions and mental illnesses that have the potential to coexist with bipolar disorder and discusses a few myths about the illness to give the reader a full picture of all aspects of bipolar disorder.

The next chapter of the book discuss the different types of therapists and the types of therapy they are offered in treating bipolar disorder.  For example, the difference between a psychiatrist, therapist, psychologist, and social worker are discussed and that can be quite helpful to someone just beginning treatment when trying to determine who to schedule an appointment with and what services will be provided.  If someone was looking to use medication as part of their treatment, after reading this section, they would know that if they saw a therapist or psychologist, they would not get any medication.  They would have to make an appointment with a psychiatrist.  Not only do they address the differences in the doctors, but offer some tips on questions to ask while at their first session.

Medications and the different therapy techniques are discussed in the following chapters.  The authors go into great detail differentiating between the different types of medications, what they are used for, and give specific medication names as examples.  After medications are discussed, the authors continue to describe the different treatments for bipolar disorder by explaining the different psychosocial treatment models (i.e. cognitive behavioral therapy) and how support groups, spirituality and religion, and diet and exercise can aid in the treatment plan of someone with bipolar.

The authors continue the book by giving the reader detailed information about triggers, warning signs, and risks for mania and depression.  They recommend and explain mood charts and journals and then provide strategies for how to respond to the triggers and warning signs.  The strategies provided are detailed and quite easy to do.  I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in 2006 and having read this book  almost 7 years after my diagnosis, these strategies are simple, yet would still be effective, even for me, in reacting when the mania or depression has hit or is about to.

The last two sections are just as important as all the pages that are preceeding.  If, or how, to tell others about your illness tends to be a tough decision and takes a lot of thought and planning in some instances.  The book does an excellent job in guiding the individual through telling other by laying out the benefits and downsides to sharing and recommends making out disclosure scripts to use when they decide to divulge their condition.

After discussing the pros and cons and how to carry out the decision to disclose the illness, the authors remind us of some of the positive sides of bipolar disorder and how to stay well by setting wellness goals.  This book is by far one of the most thorough books I have read and definitely provides a wealth of information focused on the major areas to be addressed by someone who is newly diagnosed.  The book is written and worded in such a way that it does not come across as “medical handbook” like, so it reads easily.  The medical terminology used is pertinent to the illness and defined clearly so the reader is able to learn the terms and still follow the book without becoming overwhelmed.

I would definitely recommend this book to any of my followers or to their friends or family members that wanted to know more about bipolar disorder in a broad overview or as an introduction to the illness.

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