Bipolar disorder causes mood swings ranging from manic, active states to low, depressive states that can vary widely between patients. Like most mental health disorders, there is no definitive Bipolar Disorder Test consisting of a blood test or other medical laboratory test to diagnose this condition. Lab work is often used in diagnostics to rule out other physiological causes for symptoms, but they cannot detect the disorder. Instead, doctors determine the presence of the illness through a variety of bipolar screening tests and questionnaires. Several diagnostic tools are used to help diagnose bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder (formerly referred to as manic depression) is diagnosed when a patient meets the criteria set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-IV) which is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used to appropriately diagnose mental health disorders. The Manual lists criteria for manic episodes, depressive episodes and for mixed episodes, which are times when both extremes are present nearly every day for at least a week. It also defines what is known as a hypomanic episode. In simplest terms, a hypomanic episode has the same types of behaviors or symptoms as a manic one, but they are not as severe or as long lasting as a full manic episode.
There are three types of bipolar disorder- Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder, and Cyclothymic disorder. With Bipolar I disorder, you have definitely had at least one manic or mixed episode, but not necessarily a major depressive disorder. Bipolar II disorder means you have had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but not necessarily a full manic or mixed episode. Cyclothymic disorder means you have several hypomanic episodes and several depressive periods, but not a full manic, major depressive or a mixed episode.
The first step in diagnosing bipolar disorder is usually a screening test like the one developed by Ivan Goldberg, or the Bipolar Mood Disorder Questionnaire used by many mental health professionals as a screening tool. By assessing the answers to a few simple questions, patients and doctors can begin to get a picture of whether bipolar disorder is responsible for ups and downs in life that seem to be more than just the average ebb and flow of life. A bipolar disorder quiz can also be used as a bipolar self test to help someone realize he or she should see a doctor for further evaluation.
The crux of a Bipolar Disorder Test or a Manic Depressive Test is an assessment of an overall pattern of moods and related behavior, not just a short-term period of problems.
The manic or “up” stages of the disorder are evaluated by periods of talkativeness or extreme energy, lack of sleep, impulsive behaviors such as spending too much money, risky behaviors including sexual promiscuity, among others. The depression or “down” periods of the disorder are addressed through questions about sleeping too much, feeling hopeless, restless, anxious, or suicidal as well as a prolonged sadness and loss of energy.
Although a bipolar disorder test is merely a screening tool, it is an important part of a professional diagnosis. While a questionnaire can never fully asses all situations with accuracy, they are useful when diagnosing bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions. They are best used to help you define and narrow down your symptoms and explain them to your doctor so you can get the proper help and treatment in dealing with bipolar symptoms.