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With summer in full swing, we hope you've added the latest issue of bp Magazine to your list of warm-weather reading. The summer edition is full of probing articles, the latest news and  research, and helpful, inspirational advice. You'll want to check out our cover story, a straightforward look at hospital stays, complete with interviews from people who've been there. We also feature a profile of an especially courageous couple who are trying to get their second-oldest son the help he needs against imposing odds.

Another must-read is writer Donna Jackel's piece Someone to Lean On, which looks at the invaluable support that friends and family can provide us.

Someone To Lean On

By Donna Jackel

When it comes to having a supportive environment to help deal with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the latest scientific research confirms what our intuition already tells us: Consistent love and support can speed recovery from depression or mania and can lengthen periods of stability as well.bp Magazine Summer 2008 cover image

"Generally, people with bipolar disorder do much better over time with a good support system," says David J. Miklowitz, PhD, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Colorado, who has extensively studied how family relationships can affect the course of bipolar disorder. 

Conversely, he says, a person who lives in a stressful household may be more vulnerable to subsequent episodes. Over the past decade, several studies have found that patients with bipolar who are released from psychiatric hospitals are more apt to have a relapse if they return home to a critical, unsupportive or negativistic family.

"There is no easy solution, but educating family members about the illness, and how it affects the person, will help them to be more compassionate," says Miklowitz, author of The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know (Guilford Press, 2002). By gaining knowledge about the illness, relatives and friends will also feel less "personally attacked," should their loved one become irritable or angry, he adds.

Even so, families are complex. A parent may feel guilt that he or she has passed the illness along to a child, anger at the extra demands placed upon them, or disappointment that their loved one is no longer the same.

Click here to read the full article.

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