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The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood's Most Misunderstood Disorder

by Demitri Papolos, M.D., and Janice Papolos


Book Review by Peg Nichols, NAMI Staff

Broadway Books, 2000. 320 pages. Cloth $25.00

Too many books claim to be the "definitive guide" in their respective field. But in the case of The Bipolar Child, a new book by Demitri Papolos, M.D., and his wife Janice Papolos, this statement rings true. Parents of children with bipolar disorder will rejoice that, at last, someone has painted a true picture of their heartbreaking lives and crowned them-and their children-shining heroes in the process.

Written clearly, concisely, and compassionately, The Bipolar Child walks readers through the minefield of early onset bipolar, step by step, detail by detail, to an end that is both realistic and highly encouraging. Organized into four sections-Diagnosis and Treatment, Inside the Brain and Mind, Living and Coping with Bipolar Disorder, and Life Goes On-readers learn about the complexities of the disorder, why it so often is mistaken for ADHD, how to find an appropriate doctor, and how to carry forth at home, in school, and in the larger community.

And the book contains much more than that. Bolstered with cutting-edge data and research, it also shows readers methods for ensuring appropriate school services, navigating the insurance maze, handling a psychiatric hospitalization, and helping other family members-particularly young siblings-cope with the hardships of early onset bipolar.

But perhaps the book's greatest strength lies in its passionate depictions of families. We feel the tantrums and rages. We understand the urgency of protecting other family members. We wince at the strain upon marriages. Most important, we get to know the child with bipolar disorder for what he or she really is, a delightful, beautiful, and vibrant individual imprisoned by a devastating brain disorder, but deserving of a life filled with hope and fulfillment. This book tells it like is and does so vibrantly. Those who read it will cry and cheer-for raising a child with bipolar disorder indeed requires great heart.

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