The fact that severe depressive states are not simply normal reactions to distressing life events has been recognized since the time of the ancient Greeks. However, it was not until the latter half of the 20th century that the diagnoses of major depression and bipolar disorder came to be fully defined and accepted as the two most important forms of mood disorders. Most of what is known about these conditions and their treatment has been learned in the past 50 years. An increasing body of clinical research has advanced our understanding of the theoretical basis and underlying causes of these illnesses and refined our knowledge of brain function and the mechanism of action of antidepressant and antimanic medications. The treatments discovered in the past 50 years have had a tremendously beneficial impact on millions of people suffering from these devastating conditions. Further, as our knowledge continues to grow, new treatments are being explored every day. As the rapid pace of discovery continues, the future for the development of more effective and rapidly acting treatment seems bright.

However, several key questions remain as the current focus of research and will have to be answered before we can significantly improve on the best of the

Textbook of Biological Psychiatry. Edited by Jaak Panksepp Copyright © 2004 by Wiley-Liss, Inc. ISBN: 0-471-43478-7

currently available treatments. We only have a rudimentary knowledge of the genetic or biochemical factors that predispose to or cause depression or bipolar disorder. We are not sure if these different diagnostic categories represent biologically distinct entities or a spectrum of severity. We do not yet fully understand the mechanism of action of antidepressant or antimanic agents, the reason for time lag in therapeutic effects, or the reason some patients seem to respond to some treatments but not others. This chapter will provide an overview of mood disorders and the currently available medication and physical treatments for them.

Bipolar Disorder Uncovered

Bipolar Disorder Uncovered

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