East Asian Arch Psychiatry 2017;27:165

Book Review

Bipolar Disorder 2017 (Advances in Psychotherapy: Evidence Based Practice)

Authors: Robert P. Reiser, Larry W. Thompson, Sheri L. Johnson, Trisha Suppes
Hogrefe Publishing
£19.90; pp128; ISBN: 978-0-88937-410-2

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Bipolar disorder is one of the most common, devastating, and persistent psychiatric illnesses. Its variety and complexity in terms of clinical presentation have often posed challenges to clinicians over the past decades despite the advances in current evidence-based treatment. Pharmacotherapy has always been emphasised when formulating a management plan with relatively little consideration of psychosocial treatments. Since bipolar disorder is a fluctuating illness that impacts multiple areas of day-to-day life, a tailor-made and holistic management plan that includes psychosocial interventions is undoubtedly important. This book aims to present a psychosocial approach to management in addition to standard psychiatric care and pharmacotherapy. Special consideration is also given to suicide risk assessment and management, and substance abuse.

The book comprises 4 chapters: description, theories and models of bipolar disorder, diagnosis and treatment indications, and treatment. It begins by giving a comprehensive review of the basic information, e.g. terminology, epidemiology, course, and prognosis of bipolar disorder. It then introduces psychosocial approaches to treatment.

Overall this book is concise and precise. With the use of clinical vignettes, it offers a clear picture of bipolar disorder and helps consolidate readers’ existing knowledge. For example, Chapter 4 describes the phases of treatment. There is a clinical vignette about setting treatment goals, a very realistic example of a common task encountered in our clinical practice. It provides readers with a general idea about the structure and course of psychosocial management. In the same chapter, a table lists the interview skills required for hypomanic or manic patients, e.g. sit quietly, avoid any rapid movements, and speak slowly in a calm voice. At the end of the chapter, the book discusses suicide risk assessment and management. This is tremendously useful to practitioners who are starting to work with people with bipolar disorder. Nonetheless the discussion about treatment may not be comprehensive. In Chapter 3 on diagnosis and treatment indications, the decision tree to determine optimal treatment is oversimplified.

In conclusion, this book provides a clear overview of the treatment of bipolar disorder with the use of clinical vignettes and tables. It is easy to read and can help readers grasp the ideas of some basic but important clinical skills. The book also consolidates and updates readers’ knowledge. Nonetheless more seasoned professionals may find the discussion about psychosocial treatment incomplete.

Wayne Tang, MBChB
(email: waynetwk@gmail.com)
Shatin Hospital 
Hong Kong SAR China

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