The psychiatric disorder formerly called manic depression has been recognized for hundreds of years. Referred to as bipolar disorder since 1980, it is a serious, chronic disorder that usually begins after puberty. The disorder is characterized by episodes of significant depression and its seeming antithesis, mania, usually sustained for weeks to months. If depression is sadness, underactivity, and unwarranted pessimism, mania is expansiveness, greatly increased energy, and undeserved optimism and grandiosity. An irritable, labile mood often characterizes both mood states. Medications to treat mania and depression as well as prevent future episodes have provided an incentive to better recognize the condition and its nuances, with the hope that treatment will diminish its morbidity and mortality.
Carlson GA. Pediatric Bipolar Disorder: A Global Perspective. JAMA. 2009;301(21):2272–2273. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.789
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