Bipolar, Not So Much: Understanding Your Mood Swings and Depression

Bipolar, Not So Much: Understanding Your Mood Swings and Depression

by Chris Aiken MD, James Phelps MD


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Approaching depression as a complex disorder with many different facets rather than all-or-nothing.

Depression confuses the mind, strips away hope, and causes people to blame themselves for an illness they never asked for. This book presents a revolutionary new understanding of the concept of depression and offers readers skills and strategies to manage it.

No longer is this a one-size-fits-all diagnosis, and antidepressants are no longer the one-size-fits-all treatment. Mood disorders are now seen to form a spectrum of problems, from common depression on one end to full bipolar disorder on the other. In between these extremes are multitudes of people who are on the middle of the mood spectrum, and this book is for them.

The first part of the book helps readers answer the question, “Where am I on the mood spectrum?” By laying the foundation for understanding this spectrum, Aiken and Phelps highlight the key distinctions that define unipolarity, bipolarity, hypomania, mania, and depression. Readers will be able to discern which definition best fits their experience, and use this understanding to learn which treatment methods will work best.

The authors also empower readers to look beyond antidepressants. They walk readers through new medications for the mood spectrum, and offer a guide to non-medication treatments that anyone can use on their own, from diet and lifestyle changes to natural supplements. The book also discusses other innovative technologies that can aid in recovery, including dawn simulators, mood apps, and blue-light filters.

This thoughtful and beneficial book will offer readers skills and strategies, as well as hope, in the face of debilitating mental challenges.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393711745
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/17/2017
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 266,990
Product dimensions: 9.40(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Chris Aiken, MD, is the director of the Mood Treatment Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and an instructor at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He is active in medical research and has published on the treatment and diagnosis of mood disorders. Dr. Aiken began his career as a research assistant at the National Institute of Mental Health and completed his medical training at Yale, Cornell and Duke University Medical Centers.

James Phelps, MD, is director of the Mood Disorders program at Samaritan Mental Health in Corvallis, Oregon,
which serves a five-hospital system.Prior to joining Samaritan Mental Health, Dr. Phelps held a private practice in Corvallis while writing an internationally known website,, and teaching across the U.S. He is recognized as a national expert on the topic of bipolar disorder, and has published more than 15 books and journal articles pertaining to mental health.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

Part 1 What Type of Depression Do You Have? 1

1 Understanding the Mood Spectrum 2

2 The Down Side: Depression 7

3 The Up Side: From Hypomania to Mania, and Everything In-Between 14

4 The Mixed-Up Side: When Mania and Depression Collide 34

5 A Little Bipolar? How Much? 42

6 About Your Diagnosis 54

7 Is It All in the Genes? 64

8 The Living Side: Finding Normal 72

Part 2 A Healing Lifestyle 77

9 Daily Rhythms 80

10 Light and Dark 85

11 Managing Insomnia 93

12 Getting Active 101

13 Exercise? How About Just Walking 106

14 Diet 116

15 Managing Substances 126

16 Coming Soon: Bipolar and Technology 133

Part 3 Treatment 139

17 The Right Stuff: How to Find Good Care 140

18 Medications: Our Top Choices 149

19 Mood-Lifting Stabilizers: The Full Details 153

20 Antidepressants and Other Mood Destabilizers 171

21 Medications for Breakthrough Episodes 181

22 Anxiety, Concentration, and Sleep: The Other Poles of Bipolar 188

23 Natural Healers 204

24 Knowing When to Stop Medications 220

25 Live Long and Minimize Side Effects 225

26 Beyond Medication: Electricity, Magnets, and Depression 238

27 Good Therapy 242

Part 4 Reclaiming Your Life 251

28 Relationships 252

29 Work and School 260

30 For Friends and Family 267

Appendix 281

Appendix A Medication Glossary 282

Appendix B Hypomania in 900 Words 285

Appendix C 150 Things to Try When You're Depressed 290

Appendix D Online Resources 295

Appendix E Further Reading 298

Appendix F Support Groups 299

References 300

Index 325

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