Bipolar disorder is a recurring mental health condition that often starts in young adulthood, but in some cases, can occur in childhood and adolescence. The extreme mood swings associated with the disorder make it a challenge to experience first-hand or to handle as a caregiver. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help you manage the task, whichever position you find yourself in.
The following books about bipolar disorder serve as guides, educational tools, and sources of comfort for people who have been diagnosed (or are seeking diagnosis), as well as their loved ones. These resources may assist conversations about the symptoms of bipolar disorder, treatment options, and day-to-day life with a mental health disorder.
Self-Help Books For Those With Bipolar Disorder
1. The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide
In this guide by Dr. David J. Miklowitz, you will find straightforward information on everything from the mechanics of bipolar disorder and how to manage it in its various forms, to how to handle comorbid conditions like anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Miklowitz —a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Semel Institute, UCLA School of Medicine —recognizes that while living with bipolar can feel like a roller coaster, knowledge is power. His book gives readers the skills they need to cope with symptoms, reduce number and frequency of recurrences, resolve related familial conflict, and navigate the confusing world of medication management for bipolar disorder.
2. The Bipolar II Disorder Workbook: Managing Recurring Depression, Hypomania, and Anxiety
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is typically marked by alternating periods of deep depression and intense manic episodes. However, bipolar II is different than bipolar I in that people may never experience a full-on manic episode. Instead, they are familiar with stages of high energy and increased impulsiveness (hypomania) along with anxiety and depression.
This workbook is specifically designed as a resource for people dealing with bipolar II disorder. It is written by a team of experts to help readers cope with and manage the distinct symptoms of their condition. This book includes structured exercises based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and mindfulness-based research. Ultimately, it takes a practical approach, and simplifies a complex disorder.
3. The Bipolar Workbook: Tools for Controlling Your Mood Swings
For anyone who personally experiences bipolar disorder —as well as loved ones who wish to better understand its effects — this book functions as a working tool to instil empathy and a sense of empowerment. Its goal is to give control and ownership back to the people who might be feeling powerless against their disorder.
Clinical psychologist, Monica Ramirez Basco writes with conviction that knowing your own triggers, vulnerabilities, and strengths, is the key to combating life-altering bouts of mania and depression. In addition to step-by-step written exercises for managing stress and making healthy choices, Basco also provides the context you need to confidently put your new skills to good use. She promotes medication stability, hands-on self-care, and a proactive approach to going into remission.
4. New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder: Your Friendly, Authoritative Guide to the Latest Traditional and Complementary Solutions
This self-help workbook differs from the typical formula used by many of its counterparts in that it’s written from the perspective of a full-treatment team — a psychiatrist, Dr. Jan Fawcett; a psychologist, Dr. Bernard Golden; and a patient, Nancy Rosenfeld. It aims to provide basic guidance on the following subjects: Why do some patients get worse when taking antidepressants? What’s the story on atypical antipsychotic medications? Is there any kind of new genetic research out there? And how exactly do you decide whether and how to disclose your illness to others?
Overall, it functions as a good “first step” for anyone trying to enlighten and educate themselves on the impacts of bipolar disorder.
5. The War Within My Mind
John Poehler, creator of the award-winning blog Bipolar Battle,and an expert in managing his own bipolar disorder, provides readers with a kind of road map or game plan to tackling their approach to treatment. He recognizes that chaos in life, and certainly in bipolar disorder, can feel unavoidable, but if you start to re-imagine yourself as a warrior with coping tools for weapons, you can take back control of your fight.
6. Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bipolar but Were Too Freaked Out to Ask
The target audience for this humorous approach to self-help is young people in their 20s who are experiencing the impact of their mental health disorder for the very first time. It takes an honest in the trenches approach to bipolar education, full of on-target insights and heart-achingly brave anecdotes.
Author Hilary Smith asks the hard but deeply relatable questions like: “Am I still me if I take mind-altering medications?” and “Will people judge me if I tell them I’m bipolar?” Reviewers say it’s a pleasant departure to read a book that puts words to their actual thoughts, and doesn’t just address the black-and-white topics. It embraces the idea that mental health is rarely simple, and sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it.
7. Surviving Manic Depression: A Manual on Bipolar Disorder for Patients, Families, and Providers
Another comprehensive, informative guide that focuses on manic depression, one of the staple symptoms of bipolar disorder. This guide also includes symptom descriptions from patients with bipolar, making it especially useful for those who want to hear from others with the diagnosis.
Books to Better Understand Bipolar Disorder
8. Owning Bipolar: How Patients and Families Can Take Control of Bipolar Disorder
This book by Michael G. Pipich illustrates how people can detect bipolar mood swings and differentiate between the symptoms of bipolar and other
mental health disorders, which can overlap. He takes highly complex ideas and presents them in a three-phase approach that is easy for readers to digest. Throughout, he punctuates vast amounts of information with relatable first-person accounts from people who have dealt with bipolar. This pattern serves as a method of helping people absorb and recall what they’ve read.
Additionally, Pipich confronts the denial that can accompany bipolar disorder and encourages the pursuit of specific, collaborative treatments and therapies. He recognizes that there is not only stigma attached to mental health disorders but also to the treatment of mental health disorders; a stigma he exposes and firmly rejects.
9. Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for You and Your Loved Ones
Dr. Mondimore’s first edition in 1999 broke new ground for understanding and treating bipolar personality disorder. Today, the updated version remains a comprehensive and impactful guide to living with bipolar, including managing symptoms and bipolar cycles, extensive new research, and more.
10. Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar
Award-winning writer Natasha Tracy uses her own experiences as context to describe the extreme highs and lows of bipolar disorder. Reviewers have found this book to be an extremely helpful tool in helping loved ones understand their disorder on a deeper level.
As a cross between self-help and memoir, it describes a complicated issue through narrative, helping readers put themselves directly into the shoes of someone with bipolar disorder. It helps readers understand the effects of intense mood swings, feelings of helplessness, and cognitive distortions. It also tackles the difficult subject of suicide and suicide attempts, and how to approach the topic from a place of wisdom and empathy.
11. Understanding Bipolar Disorder: The Essential Family Guide
Understanding your loved one’s bipolar diagnosis can be difficult and straining; with so much information out there, how do you ensure you’re supporting your loved one in healthy and engaging ways?
This guide provides anecdotes, family activities, and insights to ensure your family thrives together. You can also read about treatment expectations, community support, and more.
Best Books for Partners of People With Bipolar Disorder
12. When Your Partner Has Bipolar Disorder: Helping You and Your Partner Build a Balanced and Healthy Relationship
A bipolar diagnosis can put a strain on any relationship, significant others included. Learn to establish healthy communication and utilize calming techniques like journaling, mindfulness, and conversation prompts in this new guide designed specifically for couples.
13. Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner
Authors John Preston and Julie Fast like to say that maintaining a healthy relationship is already difficult without the added challenge of understanding your partner’s bipolar disorder symptoms. However, they also understand that while difficult, any relationship worth having requires effort. As such, they’ve put together a compendium of advice for witnessing and helping your partner through intense mood swings and bouts of impulsive action, as well as monitoring the adverse effects of their medications.
At the end of the day, any relationship needs balance, and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder not only encourages support of the person with the condition but also of the caregiver, by encouraging them to take good care of themselves.
Best Memoirs by People With Bipolar Disorder
14. Madness: A Bipolar Life
Following the success of her first book,Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, Marya Hornbacher’s Madness is an impactful look into the mind of a woman struggling with a complex mental health disorder. The memoir follows her from age 4 to present, noting when she was first diagnosed with type I rapid-cycle bipolar disorder at age 24. Horbacher’s work is intense, raw, and sometimes, painful to read.
Readers should be warned that the book includes descriptions of self-harm, which may be triggering to some, but ultimately, its power lies in its unflinching honesty. Most importantly, she reveals that she is not alone in her struggle, and that millions of Americans struggle with some form of mental disorder that is masking or disguising their bipolar disorder.
15. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir
In a departure from the average book about bipolar disorder, cartoonist Ellen Forney crafts a graphic novel that explores the connection between creativity and mental health, specifically bipolar. Intermixed with her own personal anecdotes about her fear of losing her artistic gifts once placed on medication, she weaves stories of famous artists and writers with bipolar disorder like Vincent van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Forney is able to convey both raw emotion and clinical information through her illustrations, including the pros and cons of different treatments and medications for bipolar disorder, resonating in a way that only art can. This darkly humorous and visually stunning depiction of bipolar is relatable to anyone who has ever feared that gaining mental stability would rob or “cure” them of their creativity.
16. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
Kay Redfield Jamison is both a medical authority on bipolar disorder and someone who has experienced it first-hand. She started to experience the effects of her disorder while she was pursuing a career in medicine, which took her off track for years, leading to mania, violence, extreme spending sprees, and even attempted suicide. Today, she is an acclaimed writer and a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and she uses her dual perspectives — that of the caregiver and patient — to reveal the terrors of bipolar disorder, shedding light in order to make the unknown known.
17. Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love
Gorilla and the Bird follows the odyssey of Zack McDermott, a public defender in New York City who spirals into psychosis at 26 years old and ends up back in his childhood home. He tells his story in the context of his relationship with his mother, nicknamed the Bird, whose love and support guides him through frightening periods of mania and depression. While it begins by detailing his downward spiral, this book on bipolar disorder is ultimately a testament to the ways in which mental health disorders are manageable, and how the people that suffer from them can lead happy, fulfilling lives.
Book for Parents of Bipolar Children
18. The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood’s Most Misunderstood Disorder
Bipolar disorder in children is often misdiagnosed and can be mistreated in a way that exacerbates symptoms. This misunderstanding is partly due to the fact that the condition presents differently in children than in adults. Also, there is substantially more overlap with symptoms of other psychiatric conditions in children including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. So, how can parents work with their children and doctors to get to the root cause of the issue?
Demitri and Janice Papolo lay everything out in this book, including advice on how to advocate for your children in school and beyond. It also covers the importance of neuropsychological testing, tackles the daunting subject of insurance coverage, contains crucial details about hospitalization, and looks ahead to promising new treatment on the horizon. The Papolos have compiled an irreplaceable resource for parents, siblings, and children themselves, as well as for the professionals who treat them.
19. What Works for Bipolar Kids: Help and Hope for Parents
Expert clinician and renowned researcher Mani Pavuluri draws on decades of experience to share specific strategies with parents of bipolar children. Some of the subjects she covers are methods to reduce issues with mania, aggression, sleep disturbances, and depression. She understands that it can sometimes feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle, but is adamant that kids with bipolar can lead stable lives.
The book also covers practical solutions to conflict that can arise at home, in school, or in extracurriculars. Pavuluri knows that as a parent of a child with bipolar disorder, you face special stressors, and she motivates you to cultivate a community of friends, family, and medical professionals to support you through your journey as a lifelong advocate for your child.
20. The Bipolar Teen: What You Can Do to Help Your Child and Your Family
Elizabeth George and Dr. David Miklowitz — who also wrote The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide mentioned at the beginning of this list — use this book to distill 20 years of research, helping parents come face-to-face with the task of raising a bipolar teenager, as well as how to distinguish between normal teen behavior and indicators of manic depression.
If you have a teen who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, George and Miklowitz provide the tools you require to cut through the chaos, make home life manageable, and respond to early signs of an episode. If you’re grappling with questions and fear of the unknown, you’ll find all the key facts in this book along with advice on how to set realistic expectations and pursue meaningful treatment options.
Children’s Books on Bipolar Disorder
21. The Bipolar Bear Family: When a Parent Has Bipolar Disorder
The story of The Bipolar Bear Family is an engaging way to teach children of bipolar parents about this particular disorder. It follows a young bear cub who is trying to understand his mother’s confusing behavior and diagnosis, and it tackles difficult questions such as: “Is it my fault?” “Can I fix it?” and “Can I catch it like a cold?” This compassionate resource for children’s education is an age-appropriate way to address a tough subject for young kids.