The History of Bipolar Disorder

Over 2,400 years ago, Greek physician Hippocrates first detailed symptoms of “opposite” mood states – what we now understand as mania and depression. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the modern era, vivid descriptions of melancholy and euphoria continued to surface, drawing focus to a set of distinct symptoms that appeared to occur in cycles.

In this special talkBD episode, psychiatrist Dr. Manuel Sánchez de Carmona dives through centuries of evidence to uncover the fascinating story of manic-depression – and how we’ve come to know the condition today as “bipolar disorder”.

Hosted by Dr. Erin Michalak.

Chapters & Timestamps

00:00 Introduction
01:54 Virginia Woolf Knew She Was Ill
03:58 Ancient Greece & Rome
09:22 19th Century France & Germany
14:18 The Circular Pattern of Bipolar Disorder
18:52 The Modern Era
21:00 The Bipolar Spectrum
24:14 The DSM & History of Mixed Features
27:04 Today: Key Figures, Advocacy, World Bipolar Day
31:50 The Term “Bipolar Disorder” Is Inaccurate?
35:20 King George III & Life Charting
41:49 Learning from Your History

People referenced
Ancient & Classical: Hippocrates, Aristotle, Aretaeus of Cappadocia, Posidonius
19th Century: Jean-Pierre Falret, Jules Baillarger, Karl Kahlbaum, Emil Kraepelin, Vincent van Gogh, King George III
Modern Era: Virginia Woolf, Karl Leonhard, Jules Angst, David Kupfer, Ellen Frank
Today: Kurt Cobain, Carrie Fisher, Kanye West, Britney Spears

Dr. Manuel Sanchez de Carmona - TalkBD Bipolar Disorder Podcast
Dr. Manuel Sanchez de Carmona

Dr. Manuel Sanchez de Carmona is a member of the ISBD Board of Directors and works as an associate professor of Clinical Psychiatry for the Anahuac University in Mexico City, Mexico. He began his involvement with ISBD in 2008 as the founder of the ISBD Mexican Chapter and since then in key leadership roles: first as ISBD Secretary Treasurer and then as ISBD President, serving for two consecutive terms from March 2014 to December 2017. He was able to actively promote the Society and generate local chapters in several countries of Latin America, Asia, and Europe. He is passionate about providing education on bipolar disorders and using the Society as a game-changer in public mental health services. Since World Bipolar Day’s inception, he has been involved in its global promotion and making connections with experts with the lived experience to generate community awareness and fight stigma. Dr. Sanchez de Carmona has more than 30 years of clinical experience treating mood disorders and is interested in diagnosis, early detection, and providing quality of life to patients.


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Questions and comments?

  • This is one of the most insightful interview on Bipolar Disorder ever. As a person living with Bipolar Type 1 for the last 12 years, I recommended this to persons with lived experience and their loved ones.

    Key learning points to me include:

    1.having a life chart highlighting positive and negative aspects,

    2. empowering patient and their loved ones to play an active role in decision making,

    3.raising awareness during world bipolar day- Thanks for highlighting WBD event by Bipolar Heroes Foundation in Kenya

    4.sharing our stories as experts by lived experience is a double edged sword that needs to be used well.

    5. There are so many other insights on understanding the history of bipolar disorder

    This is a must watch clip for persons with lived experience, clinicians and the loved ones.It is worth sparing your 40 min to learn from it.

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