Lithium for bipolar disorder: the John Cade story


Prior to the Second World War mental illness was largely untreatable, but all that changed when an Australian doctor and recently returned prisoner of war, John Cade, made the monumental discovery that lithium could serve as an effective treatment for manic depression, now bipolar disorder. In this podcast, Dr Raj Persaud interviews Professor Greg de Moore about the life and work of John Cade, discussing his remarkable – but often overlooked – contribution to the history of mental health treatment.


Date published: 1 July 2019 

Presenter: Dr Raj Persaud

Interviewee: Professor Greg de Moore

Audio running time: 58 minutes

Credits: 0.5


Learning outcomes


By the end of this podcast, we hope you will have gained an understanding of:


  • some of the practices employed in asylums prior to the discovery of lithium


  • when and how lithium was first discovered as a treatment for 'manic depression'


  • how lithium was first administered, and some of the controversies surrounding its use


  • the importance of John Cade's discovery to our understanding of bipolar disorder treatment today.



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If you like this podcast, you may also be interested in the following:


Podcast The inflamed mind: a radical new approach to depression with Professor Edward Bullmore


Module Safe lithium prescribing: initiation and monitoring by Dr Ekta Sharma, Dr Tayeem Pathan and Dr Dhanya Shinith

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