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Open AccessReview

A History of the Pharmacological Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Faculty of Health Sciences, University Camilo José Cela, C/Castillo de Alarcón 49, 28692 Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, Hospital 12 de Octubre Research Institute (i+12), Avda. Córdoba, s/n, 28041 Madrid, Spain
Portucalense Institute of Neuropsychology and Cognitive and Behavioural Neurosciences (INPP), Portucalense University, R. Dr. António Bernardino de Almeida 541, 4200-072 Porto, Portugal
Thematic Network for Cooperative Health Research (RETICS), Addictive Disorders Network, Health Institute Carlos III, MICINN and FEDER, 28029 Madrid, Spain
Departments of Psychiatry, Wan Fang Medical Center and School of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, 111 Hsin Long Road Section 3, Taipei 116, Taiwan
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Valencia, Avda. Vicente Andrés, s/n, 46100 Burjassot, Valencia, Spain
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Complutense University, Avda. Puerta de Hierro, s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Department of Biomedical Sciences (Pharmacology Area), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Alcalá, Crta. de Madrid-Barcelona, Km. 33,600, 28871 Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(7), 2143;
Received: 4 June 2018 / Revised: 12 July 2018 / Accepted: 13 July 2018 / Published: 23 July 2018
PDF [7731 KB, uploaded 23 July 2018]


In this paper, the authors review the history of the pharmacological treatment of bipolar disorder, from the first nonspecific sedative agents introduced in the 19th and early 20th century, such as solanaceae alkaloids, bromides and barbiturates, to John Cade’s experiments with lithium and the beginning of the so-called “Psychopharmacological Revolution” in the 1950s. We also describe the clinical studies and development processes, enabling the therapeutic introduction of pharmacological agents currently available for the treatment of bipolar disorder in its different phases and manifestations. Those drugs include lithium salts, valproic acid, carbamazepine, new antiepileptic drugs, basically lamotrigine and atypical antipsychotic agents (olanzapine, risperidone, quetiapine, ziprasidone, aripiprazole, asenapine, cariprazine and lurasidone). Finally, the socio-sanitary implications derived from the clinical introduction of these drugs are also discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: bipolar disorder; pharmacological treatment; mood stabilizer drugs; lithium; antiepileptic drugs; antipsychotic drugs bipolar disorder; pharmacological treatment; mood stabilizer drugs; lithium; antiepileptic drugs; antipsychotic drugs

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López-Muñoz, F.; Shen, W.W.; D’Ocon, P.; Romero, A.; Álamo, C. A History of the Pharmacological Treatment of Bipolar Disorder. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19, 2143.

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