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Ask the Author: Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder

An interview with John McManamy, Expert Patient and author of a book about coping successfully with bipolar disorder and depression.

Expert patient John McManamy, who has battled bipolar disorder, is taking his voice to a new level. His informative and provocative book, Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You . . . That You Need to Know, published by HarperCollins, was recently released and is available at all major book stores and on Amazon. Below, he tells us a bit about his new book.

Why don’t we start at the very beginning? What do you say to a patient who has just been diagnosed?

JOHN MCMANAMY: You are not alone. This is a treatable illness. You are amongst friends. You are entitled to lead a full, rewarding, and productive life, even if you have to change some of your expectations. I won’t sugar-coat it. There may be heartbreak and frustration ahead of you. The meds will only get you part way to recovery, but the good news is you can take an active part in your own recovery through the choices you make.

What are some of those choices?

JOHN MCMANAMY: These include important lifestyle regimens such as proper diet, exercise, and sleep, maintaining a regular schedule, avoiding stress and managing the stress you can’t avoid, developing a support network, picking up new coping skills, and being vigilant about subtle changes in mood and behavior and energy.

And patients can ask their doctors about all this?

JOHN MCMANAMY: That’s the point. Doctors and psychiatrists don’t have time. They tend to send patients out the door with nothing more than a prescription and then act amazed that the meds don’t work or that the patient has gone off his or her meds. Then they blame the patient, which is a cruel double blow.

So doctors aren’t doing their jobs …

JOHN MCMANAMY: To be fair to the medical profession, they are medications experts. They’re the ones to go to for diagnostic advice and medications treatment. Managed care – or mangled care – won’t let them be anything else. Nor do they have the time during a typical office visit. Talking therapists can pick up the slack and so can nutritionists and other professionals, but not everyone can afford this type of professional care, especially when managed care doesn’t pick up the tab.

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