*Bipolar disorder has been seen throughout the years. As early as 300 to 500 AD persons with bipolar were euthanized. These ill individuals were seen as crazy and were said to be possessed by the devil. They were restrained, chained, and their blood was ‘let out’. It was not until the 18th and 19th centuries that a healthier approach to mental disorders was adopted. (Stephens; 2007) In fact, the term mania and melancholia were coined by the ancient Greeks and Romans. In order to treat agitated or euphoric patients they even used waters of northern Italian spas and even believed that lithium salts would aid in treatment. The term manic-depressive psychosis was termed in 1875 due to the work of Jean-Pierre Falret.
In Italy, as well as elsewhere in the world, patients suffering from bipolar disorder do not normally attend the clinic of their primary care physician during euphoric periods. They usually see these periods to be more of a phase of well-being or depressive remission. This social stigma makes it extremely difficult for health care professionals to accurately diagnose bipolar disease. (Carta et al; 2011)
Proven throughout the medical community is the fact that the response of the use of antidepressants is often unsatisfactory. However, a preliminary study performed in Italy found that approximately 20% of bipolar patients were receiving only traditional antidepressants as treatment. These cultural and medical factors severely decrease the effectiveness of treatment of bipolar disorder in Italy. It was also discovered that 21.3% of patients in Italy who had been prescribed an antidepressant for depression actually had bipolar disorder. (Hirschfeld et al; 2005)
As bipolar patients are more likely to seek medical attention during a depressive state than a euphoric one, it is offered that physicians should always consider bipolar disorder for patients presenting with depression. (Carta et al; 2011) Patients suffering from bipolar disorder are also turning to alternative and complementary medicines for treatments, a few of which include omega-3 fatty acids, St. John’s wort, and acupuncture. Researchers are greatly advising that people be informed of the possible risks of alternative treatments. (bphope.com 2007) REAC-lithium (a radioelectric asymmetric brain stimulation device with lithium) is also being tested as a possible treatment for bipolar disorder; it has shown impressive results. (Mannu et al; 2011)
*Emily Martin is an anthropologist that wrote about and has experience with bipolar disorder. She argues that “mania and depression have a cultural life outside the confines diagnosis, that the experiences of people living with bipolar disorder belong fully to the human condition, and that even the most so-called rational everyday practices are intertwined with irrational ones.” (Martin; 2009) Martin pulls a lot of her knowledge on bipolar disorder from her own experiences with it.
Carta, Mauro; et al. The Lifetime prevalence fo bipolar disorders and the use of antidepressant drugs in bipolar depression in Italy. October 24, 2011. http://za2uf4ps7f.search.serialssolutions.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/directLink?&atitle=The+lifetime+prevalence+of+bipolar+disorders+and+the+use+of+antidepressant+drugs+in+bipolar+depression+in+Italy.&author=Carta%2C+Mauro+Giovanni%3BAguglia%2C+Eugenio%3BBalestrieri%2C+Matteo%3BCalabrese%2C+Joseph+R.%3BCaraci%2C+Filippo%3BDell%27Osso%2C+Liliana%3BDi+Sciascio%2C+Guido%3BDrago%2C+Filippo%3BFaravelli%2C+Carlo%3BLecca%2C+Maria+Efisia%3BMoro%2C+Maria+Francesca%3BNardini%2C+Marcello%3BPalumbo%2C+Gabriella%3BHardoy%2C+Maria+Carolina&issn=01650327&title=Journal+of+Affective+Disorders&volume=136&issue=3&date=2012-02-01&spage=775&id=doi:10.1016%2Fj.jad.2011.09.041&sid=ProQ_ss&genre=article. Accessed August 10, 2012.
Caution urged on bp alternative treatments. 2007. www.bphope.com/Item.aspx/443/researchline 2007. Accessed August 10, 2012.
Hirschfeld, Robert; et al. Screening for Bipolar Disorder in Patients Treated for Depression in a Family Medicine Clinic. August 2005. http://www.jabfm.com/content/18/4/233.full.pdf+html accessed August 10, 2012.
Mannu, Piero; et al. Long-term treatment of bipolar disorder with a radioelectric asymmetric conveyor. June 2011. http://www.dovepress.com/long-term-treatment-of-bipolar-disorder-with-a-radioelectric-asymmetri-peer-reviewed-article-NDT-MVP. Accessed August 10, 2012.
Martin, Emily. Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture. 2009. http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8502.html. Accessed August 10, 2012.
Stephens, Stephanie. Through the ages, it’s been there. 2007-2012 http://www.bphope.com/Item.aspx/162/through-the-ages-its-been-there. Accessed August 10, 2012.