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 Marcia Purse

Why "Manic Depression" Became "Bipolar Disorder"

By October 15, 2012

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Manic - Bipolar - Depression"Manic" comes from the ancient Greek word "mania" meaning madness - simple enough. "Depression" comes from the Latin "to press down" and, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, was first used to describe a mood of dejection in the 15th century. Though the manic depressive condition was described millennia ago, the actual term "manic depression" came into being relatively recently, and "bipolar disorder" was suggested just 50 years later.

The change in name was an important step forward for both patients and those who treat them. Take a look at what happened:

Why Did Manic Depression Become Bipolar Disorder?

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January 29, 2013 at 6:19 pm
(1) Kathleen Brannon says:

Okay, I understand how the term “bipolar” came about and replaced the ancient “manic depression.” Basically, psychiatrists came up with “bipolar” to fit the diagnostic categories they had established, and then made sure everyone used it. I see its usefulness to the practice of psychiatry, and even that it’s seen as a less stigmatized term than “manic depression.” But I prefer “manic depression.” (I’d prefer even more a literal translation of “la folie circulaire” as that hits the nail on the head exactly and is not a loaded term either.) Why? Because by itself “bipolar” is meaningless. Having two poles, like our planet? Huh? With no context, it communicates nothing about the illness. It does not indicate that it is a disorder of mood. It does not suggest the extreme alternation between mood states, or that it can be so severe as to be psychotic. It basically conveys nothing. And have you noticed? “Bipolar” is just as loaded and stigmatized and frightening and misunderstood now as “manic depression” used to be. At least the latter directly described some features of the disorder for the layman.

February 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm
(2) Lenett says:

I understand your point but if you are not Bipolar it is confusing. I am Bipolar & Manicdepresseive. I take meds. everyday for this & yes it is inherited my Dad had it. I am not ashamed to tell people this. I do just fine. Thank you, Lenett

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