Grunze, Heinz School of Neurology, Neurobiology, and Psychiatry, Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:March 2019
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- Course of bipolar disorder
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- What is the neurobiology behind bipolar disorder?
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A major mental disorder in which there are lifelong episodes of both mania and depression; also known as manic-depressive illness. Bipolar disorder, also termed manic-depressive illness or manic depression, is characterized by sudden and often unexplained mood swings, ranging from delirious mania to severe depression (see illustration). These mood changes are regularly accompanied by other mental and behavioral symptoms, including fluctuations of volition, activity level, and cognitive functioning. The first recognizable descriptions of mania and depression date back to the writings of Aretaeus of Cappadocia (a Greek physician who lived around 150–200 CE). The modern history of bipolar disorder begins in the mid-nineteenth century with the concept of folie circulaire (“circular insanity”), proposed by the French psychiatrist Jean-Pierre Falret. Later, around the beginning of the twentieth century, it was defined by the work of the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin. See also: Affective disorders; Depression; Mental disorders
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