Q:  What is the history of bipolar disorder?

Dr. Phelps

i am doing a paper in Bipolar and i am having a hard time finding the
history about it. Like who found it? about when was it first recorded? how
has treatment changed? what sympotms did they think it had? and things in
the same area as that if you could help me put on this i would be greatly
appereciated.

Hey Tanner -- 
Good on 'ya for looking at this topic.  Here's a brief site on ancient mental health history: Mental_Illness/history.html and from there you'll want to look closely at the work of Emil Kraepelin, if you can find some -- he's the guy that really described the condition as we now recognize it, for the first time (here's the citation:
 Kraepelin E. Manic-Depressive Insanity and Paranoia. Edinburgh, Scotland: E & S Livingstone; 1921. )

Treatment was completely limited to just trying to keep people safe and out of society's way, for hundreds of years.  One could hardly call it treatment.  All that changed, about as huge a change as you can imagine, through the work of John Cade, an Australian clinician.  Here's a teeny nutshell of this extremely important story: 

The story begins in an Australian lab in 1948 when Dr John Cade, senior medical officer in the Mental Hygiene Department of Victoria, had a hunch that urea would be effective in the treatment of bipolar. He needed an agent to help the substance dissolve in water, which turned out to be lithium. He quickly found the solution had a calming affect on guinea pigs, but further experimentation showed that it was the lithium and not the urea that was the active agent. He then tried lithium on human subjects, with eye-popping results.

 

Try pursuing some of those stories!

Good luck. 

Dr. Phelps


Published May, 2001