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Living Without Depression and Manic DepressionReview - Living Without Depression and Manic Depression
A Workbook for Maintaining Mood Stability
by Mary Ellen Copeland, M.S.
New Harbinger, 1994
Review by JMG
Feb 24th 2001 (Volume 5, Issue 8)

A followup to her largely successful and hands-on workbook, The Depression Workbook, this book helps a persona maintain the gains they make in grappling with these disorders. Hundreds of exercises challenge people to use practical suggestions and advice in overcoming the unhelpful thoughts and depressive feelings associated with both depression and manic depression. I feel this is a "must-have" book for anyone who wants help in coping with these disorders.

This workbook full of exercises is divided into 18 chapters in four parts. With titles like, "Creating a Support Network," "Fine-Tuning Your Lifestyle," "Minimizing Negative Influences From the Past," and "Making the Most of Counseling," you can tell the pro-active approach the author is expecting from the reader. They need to actively think and be open to changing their way of thinking and feeling in order for this book to effect change in their life.

This may seem like an obvious statement, but is the crux of most self-help books. A lot of people buy them expecting that simply by doing the exercises, that alone will make them change. Of course it doesn't work like that. The exercises are meant to help guide a person along to change, but the change must ultimately come from within.

A lot of the exercises are focused on helping you identify your skillsets. Similar to her first book, but with a more focused approach on specific issues and skills (rather than feelings), the book is oriented toward the "living with" part rather than the "treating" of depression and manic depression. A large part of change involves first explicitly identifying the problems. The author helps you do that with extensive checklists and free-form, open-ended questions. I find that most people find lots of exercises in each chapter to be helpful to them; exercises can be easily skipped if they aren't relevant to the reader.

The author, Mary Ellen Copeland, has battled her own depression on and off for years. Her books are written largely from that point of view, not that of a distant professional. Her writing benefits from this perspective, making the workbook easy to digest and make it one's own. This is the kind of book that should be begun at the start of anyone's psychotherapy, as it is such a vital tool to help in the recovery of depression.


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