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Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder

John McManamy has spent more than a decade researching and writing on depression and bipolar disorder for his website and newsletter. After years of award-winning advocacy, the former financial journalist, who has struggled with his own bipolar disorder, wrote Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You That You Need to Know for those who live with these disorders

The book combines McManamy’s expertise with the personal experiences of others to provide extensive information on mood disorders and their symptoms, treatments and coping skills, and the effects the illnesses have on relationships.

The author embraces the discoveries of researchers and physicians who have for some time identified bipolar disorder as a spectrum disorder. In other words, the symptoms of the illness range along a continuum, rather than the definitive “high” and “lows” that have long characterized a bipolar diagnosis.

“It is far more useful, instead,” he writes, “to think of depression as a beast of many faces, ranging from feeling sad to being anxious to expressing anger to out-of-character aggression. It is an illness that engages all processes of the mind and body, from not being able to think straight to throwing our eating and sleeping out of whack to setting us up for cardiac failure. It is more an illness of not being our usual self than simply being depressed, and hopefully one day the name will reflect that fact.”

McManamy emphasizes the critical importance of being a well-informed consumer of the mental health machine. “The more we know,” he says, “the better we will understand our illness and the smarter the choices we will make in its management, in partnership with our treating professionals. Patients who are motivated to build partnerships with their doctors have a better chance of achieving a successful outcome.”

Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You That You Need to Know,
by John McManamy 2006 (HarperCollins).

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