Until the early 1950s, no effective pharmacological treatment existed for bipolar affective disorder. By the early 1960s, specialty clinics were being set up to dispense lithium carbonate to bipolar patients. By the late 1980s, a new body of knowledge was influencing the perception of bipolar disorder and how the disease should be treated. The authors’ lithium clinic from 1974 has grown and evolved from a lithium blood level monitoring model into a comprehensive care model with polypharmacy, psychoeducation, rehabilitation, cognitive therapy, social rhythm therapy, and employment counseling as well as a staff of 2 part-time psychiatrists and 1 clinical psychologist. This service delivery model may benefit both treatment and research in bipolar disorder. The evolution of psychopharmacological and psychosocial knowledge in treating bipolar illness has been integrated into our clinic. Case vignettes are presented to illustrate these points. The comparative cost of this model is discussed.
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