It seems there wasn't much bipolar disease before certain psychiatric drugs were put into use by physicians.
"Has the pharmaceutical industry become the Pied Piper of Hamelin–ridding us of lethal diseases only to turn around and “take” our children?
Would a physician from the 1950s “have identified the frenzy to treat bipolar disorders in infants that developed in twenty-first-century American as a mania?”
In his latest book, Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disease (the John Hopkins University Press) David Healy, author of Let Them Eat Prozac, looks at the historic roots of our current “medicalized distress” in which half the population is said to suffer a mental illness at some point in life and babies are diagnosed in utero as bipolar.
Bipolar disorder, once called manic depression, has been embroiled in controversy from its first descriptions in Paris in the 1850s. The pharmaceutical companies and academics behind its current popularity as a “catch-all” disease say it dates back to the ancient Greeks.
But David Healy, professor of psychiatry and the director of the North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine at Cardiff University, is not so sure.
References to the frenzied behavior of mental patients found in Hippocrates’ Epidemics books 1 and III, Plato’s Phaedrus and other early writings almost certainly referred to infective states and not what we mean by bipolar disorder
infective disorders with high fevers, hysteria, postpartum manias, catalepsies and melancholies developing into manias, he writes.
Even if the disorder existed before direct-to-consumer television advertising beamed its warning signs into living rooms, it was rare says Healy. Between 1875 and 1924 only 123 patients from North West Wales were admitted to the asylum in North Wales with what we would today call bipolar disorder from a population of a quarter of a million or 12,500,000 person years."
We suspect, too, that nutritional deficiencies have something to do with this.