About Pediatric Bipolar Disorder (Timeline) - English

A brief timeline

400 B.C. - Mania and melancholia described as separate illnesses by Hippocratic physicians.

150 AD - First written account of bipolar disorder in adolescence is described by Aretauus of Cappadocia: "...in those periods of life with which much heat and blood are associated, persons are most given to mania, namely, those about puberty, young men, and such as possess general vigor."

1817 - Lithium, element No. 3 on the periodic table, is discovered in a Swedish iron mine.

Late 1800s - British physician Sir Alfred Garrod describes lithium as therapeutic for gout and mood disorders, caused by "gout retroceding to the head."

Mid 19th to the early 20th century - Reports of childhood-onset "circular insanity" or "mania and melancholia" are common in European psychiatric literature.

1913 - Krapelin establishes the modern concept of manic-depressive illness as separate from schizophrenia ("dementia praecox"), and includes the more common form of recurrent severe depression as well as the less common form of alternating periods of mania and depression.

1930s - The Freudian psychodynamic approach to the mind becomes predominant in the United States. The psychoanalytic theory asserts that a classical depressive syndrome could not occur in children before puberty. Doctors characterize such children as suffering from "dysfunctional superego."

1946 - National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is established by President Truman in response to large numbers of military discharges and servicemen with psychiatric problems after World War II.

1949 - Australian researcher John Cade reports the benefits of lithium to treat 10 patients with mania.

1952 - The American Psychiatric Association publishes the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which includes the diagnosis "manic-depressive reaction." J.D. Campbell reports on 18 cases of pediatric onset of psychotic mania with strong family history of affective disorders in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders. Barton Hall, M.D., in a retrospective review of 2,200 children aged 5-17 seen clinically over many years, announces that manic depression was found in only two, both over age 13.

1969 - A Swedish psychiatrist, Dr. Anna-Lise Linell, reports success treating manic depression with lithium in children as young as 6.

1960s - A handful of articles in the medical literature observe that many adult bipolar patients have been ill since adolescence. Leading psychiatrists insist that to diagnose manic-depression in children, they must meet adult criteria. Young patients are routinely diagnosed as schizophrenic 'until proven otherwise.'

1970 -"Emotionally disturbed" children are excluded by law from public schools in many states. Children with emotional disabilities are often institutionalized.

1970 - Lithium is approved by the FDA to treat mania.

1970s - Doctors in Sweden and the U.S. begin using lithium to treat children as young as five with good results. An increasing number of case reports and medical journal articles describe children as young as age three with a continuous pattern of behavior and mood disorder, often in families with history of bipolar illness, whose symptoms improve greatly when treated with lithium.

1973 - First use of anticonvulsants in treatment of bipolar disorder.

1975 - The National Institute of Mental Health Conference on Depression in Childhood officially recognizes depression in children. Congress enacts the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)) giving all children with disabilities a federally protected civil right to a free appropriate public education that meets their education and related services needs in the least restrictive environment.

l979 - National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) founded.

1980 - Bipolar disorder replaces manic-depressive disorder as a diagnostic term in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-III).

1980 - Oppositional Defiant Disorder included as a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

1980s - Researchers establish differences between adult and early-onset bipolar disorder, but most psychiatrists continue to maintain that pre-pubertal children cannot have the disorder.

1986 - National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (National DMDA) founded.

1992 - Parent Tomie Burke starts on-line support network BPParents.

1994 - Childhood mood disorders are included in the DSM IV.

1995 - Trudy Carlson publishes first account of a child's life with bipolar disorder as The Suicide of My Son.

1995 - Leading scientists at Harvard (Ross Baldessarini, M.D.) , Yale (Deborah Lipschitz, M.D.), Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Gianni Faedda, M.D.), University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School (Trisha Suppes, M.D., Ph.D.,), and the Institute of Clinical Psychiatry in Italy (Leonardo Tondo, M.D.) publish "Pediatric-Onset Bipolar Disorder: A Neglected Clinical and Public Health Problem," in Harvard Review of Psychiatry,Vol 3, No. 4, 171-195.

1997 - The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry publishes "Child and Adolescent Bipolar Disorder: A Review of the Past 10 Years" by Barbara Geller, M.D. and Joan Luby, M.D., and "Practice Parameters for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Bipolar Disorder" by Jon McClellan, M.D., and John Werry, M.D.

1998 - Danielle Steel's book His Bright Light, about her son Nick Traina's struggle with bipolar disorder, becomes a national best-seller.

1999 - Parents with children diagnosed with early-onset bipolar disorder swell support networks on the Internet and flood the telephone lines of national mental health organizations. A steering committee of parents who met in the on-line support networks establish The Balanced Mind Parent Network; Bipolar Disorders medical journal founded; International Society for Bipolar Disorders founded.

Late 1990s - Multi-site treatment studies and longitudinal studies following early-onset children are funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Stanley Foundation. More psychiatrists begin to diagnose and treat the disorder successfully in children.

2000 - The Bipolar Child by Demitri Papolos M.D. and Janice Papolos is published; ABC News airs a segment of 20/20 on early-onset bipolar disorder; and The Balanced Mind Parent Network interactive web site (www.thebalancedmind.org) is launched.

2005 - Treatment Guidelines for Children and Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder published (written by a consensus conference of experts convened by The Balanced Mind Parent Network

Last revised: 3/13/06


Last updated: January 7, 2010


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