Book Review: Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Julie Fast and John Preston have written a ground breaking book for couples who want to prevent manic depressive disorder from hijacking their relationship. Fast, a health writer diagnosed with bipolar illness and clinical psychologist Preston are ideal companions. Their innovative ideas will be welcomed by exhausted partners of "bipolar individuals"--whose illness can cause them to alternate between manic and depressed behavior.

Once medication has been prescribed, the key is studying the specific ways your partner is effected. This allows couples to develop pro-active strategies for treating and stabilizing mood swings and symptoms, before they develop into full-blown crises. The techniques emphasize prevention, rather than putting out fires. These include understanding the difference between the person and the disease (know when "the bipolar disorder is talking") listing your partner's specific symptoms, identifying the triggers that lead to these symptoms and transforming the "bipolar conversation"

The goal of all the tools is to pinpoint early warning signs of a manic or depressive episode and be prepared with a holistic treatment plan. Other segments of the book deal with the work (checkered resumes) and financial problems (spending sprees) created by this illness. The author's ideas are engaging, compassionate and realistic--an oasis of relief and hope. --Barbara Mackoff