Historical underpinnings of bipolar disorder diagnostic criteria

Brittany L. Mason, E. Sherwood Brown, Paul E. Croarkin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Mood is the changing expression of emotion and can be described as a spectrum. The outermost ends of this spectrum highlight two states, the lowest low, melancholia, and the highest high, mania. These mood extremes have been documented repeatedly in human history, being first systematically described by Hippocrates. Nineteenth century contemporaries Falret and Baillarger described two forms of an extreme mood disorder, with the validity and accuracy of both debated. Regardless, the concept of a cycling mood disease was accepted before the end of the 19th century. Kraepelin then described "manic depressive insanity" and presented his description of a full spectrum of mood dysfunction which could be exhibited through single episodes of mania or depression or a complement of many episodes of each. It was this concept which was incorporated into the first DSM and carried out until DSM-III, in which the description of episodic mood dysfunction was used to build a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Criticism of this approach is explored through discussion of the bipolar spectrum concept and some recent examinations of the clinical validity of these DSM diagnoses are presented. The concept of bipolar disorder in children is also explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2016


  • Bipolar disorder
  • DSM
  • Depression
  • Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders
  • Diagnostic criteria
  • History of bipolar disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Manic depression
  • Mood disorder
  • Research domain criteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Genetics
  • Development


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